That's exactly why Ohio State's athletic director Gene Smith deserved every penny of the $18,000 he was awarded for Stieber's victory.
Non sequitur? Exactly.
Logan Stieber's NCAA title put $18k in Gene Smith's pocket (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)Stiebergate gained notoriety in the mainstream media largely because all of the NCAA's lecherous business practices are under increased scrutiny across the country. Northwestern football players are unionizing, Ed O'Bannon has cracked the NCAA's grip on images and rights, and the fabric and old-timey mysticism of amateurism is fraying at the edges. Meanwhile a young wrestler with battered ears and missing a tooth wins an NCAA title, but only the AD gets a pay bump?
I agree with the argument that the athletic director of a Division I institution is in charge of making mega-moves that influence the wins and losses of a team. The job of the athletic director is to hire the correct coach, create an "environment that breeds success" and raise some tax-free dollars from well-to-do suburban alumni.
That's their job, and like the CEO of a major company the AD is only judged by output. In the case of the CEO that's stock price and profit, and for the AD that's wins, losses and number of NCAA sanctions levied in a single year. The only real difference between the CEO and the AD is that the CEO must pay his employees for their labor before he can ever benefit from his strategy. The AD just employees their overseers.
Stiebergate struck a funny-bone with fans because it corrupted the suspended reality many fans and supporters had created when analyzing the NCAA and its arguments for the validity of amateurism. Until Stieber the popular belief was that Coach is God and that he can replace any one unit and get the same results. If the AD is worth his chedda' then he hires good coaches who in turn recruit good players. "Remember, Son! No one athlete is bigger than the team!"
Coach Tom Ryan might've been instrumental in Stieber's success, but his leadership then should have guided the team to an NCAA title. If the Buckeyes win the 2015 NCAA title you can see how Smith would be incentivized. He was GENIUS for keeping Tom Ryan, right? But is he responsible for the actions of a single wrestler? What did Smith have to do with anything that happened Saturday night? Nada. Zip. Zilch. The direct actions of an unpaid 23-year-old earned a professional man an $18,000 bump in pay. It's filthy, and I need to shower.
Logan Stieber is an individual athlete who has bled for his three NCAA titles. He has stood up in the middle of 20,000 people wearing nothing but a thin piece of gray, shiny lycra and asked the nation to throw out their best. He's been triumphant three times, and yet it was Smith, tucked away somewhere watching basketball who checked his bank account's mobile app and noticed the window.
Direct Deposit: NCAA Championship, Logan Stieber, $18,000.00
Wonder if Smith ever looked into using their transfer function on his Chase account? I'm sure Logan wouldn't mind replacing the tooth he lost in pursuit of Smith's blood money with some more substantial. But then again, you can't buy a bagel for a kid who's lost his father so looks like it's one less tooth until graduation.
To your questions ...
Q: 1. Instant replay is used way too much.
2. Overtime needs to change. Rideouts are no fun and I don't necessarily see riding a guy for 11 seconds versus 9 seconds as a victory.
3. Stalling is getting out of hand. It's not one person or one team. Everybody does it. They need to start hitting guys for stalling and doing it right away.
Am I just exaggerating these problems or does everybody notice them? What do you think?
-- Ryan R.
Foley: These are concerns that I'm hearing again and again and again, by fans, wrestlers and coaches.
Instant replay was bad last year, but reached a new level of momentum-crushing terribleness this past weekend in OKC. There were three, yes THREE, reviews issued in the first two minutes of the 125-pound match between Jesse Delgado and Nahshon Garrett. Yes, there was rolling around, but at no time was there evidence that Delgado did anything but fight his normal fight.
The logic of the Cornell coaching staff seemed to be that if they had the challenges they might as well use them early. A single takedown could mean the momentum and the match. The only problem is that they used two and with the additional referee challenge in a three-minute first period which suddenly gobbled up 10 minutes of real world time. It feels like the older brother who pushes the RESET button every time you scored first in Super Tecmo Bowl. The review system is supposed to not interfere with the pace of the wrestling, but in this situation it completely changed the composition of the match.
Other coaches this past weekend seemed to use the challenge as an injury timeout without the consequences. Some even used it at the end of the match when a call was clear, hoping that somewhere in the video replay will be something that could cause sufficient doubt. It's a Hail Mary, but wrestlers aren't known for quitting. We're still fighting Title IX, aren't we?
Maybe the coaches should recognize that the tournament success rate was only 8.5 percent, or 4 out of 47 challenges issued. Those are terrible odds, and odds that make me think there should be fewer and an in-match limitation on the number of calls allowed to be challenged. New rules need to reflect the increase in calls or else next year we can suspect more challenges and more in-match dithering.
Like the NFL, a simple rule has been mutated to the point where more rules need to be implemented in order to avoid corruption. Maybe it's better to simply eliminate the review?
As you pointed out the ride-time criteria has changed the entire ethos of wrestling. What was once a battle for domination has become the ability to get up by a fraction of differential and then try to game the referees into not being able to call stalling. It's not as much fun for the wrestlers or the fans.
Q: You often suggest takedown-only tournaments as an exciting alternative that will drive fan demand. Based on the NCAA Championships I'm not so sure. Isn't there just as much of a possibility that the fans are turned off by wrestlers who never engage their opponents and only respond with counters and funk (e.g. Delgado)? I think the solution has to involve awarding points for initiating offense. Obviously, it introduces subjectivity but it's clearly what the fans want to see. Thoughts?
-- Bryan R.
Foley: I don't see takedown-only events as taking the place of American folkstyle, freestyle or even Greco-Roman. In my grand vision I think takedown-only tournaments would be an addition to our current offering that would allow higher levels of participation and increase the fun-quotient among part-time competitors. Also, the rules would be based in the touching of either the elbow, knee or hip to the ground -- all of which would eliminate the new jiu-jitsu scrambles that popped up this year.
Takedown-only should be part of a fair-like experience that welcomes any and all takers. There could be a national champion and with work a nice little subculture of athletes could emerge. There are a million places to take this variety of the sport, but it'll take hard work and some solid salesmanship.
The real question is whether or not AD Gene Smith would agree to help us manage the project. For a fee, of course, it's always about that skrilla!
Q: I heard Columbia endowed their second assistant position and now their entire staff is funded (genius, btw). Upon learning the news that Boston had an endowment, were any additional safeguards put in place there?
-- Frank C.
Foley: The safeguard is that they've raised a $6 million endowment and bring in more than $100k a year. When it comes down to it they don't cost Columbia a dime and with a coach like Carl Fronhofer and freakazoids like Steve Santos they are doing enough on the mat to keep the administration happy.
No word on if the AD gets paid for every endowment the program raises, but I bet Super AD Smith gets a 20 percent finder's fee!
Q: Lots of fan response to your last mailbag bemoaning the lack of offense. Last year, FILA finally woke up after the IOC tried to drop wrestling from the Olympics. FILA changed the freestyle and Greco-Roman rules to make the sport more exciting for the spectators. Thank you, Nenad Lalovic!
Who in college wrestling is going to stand up and be the one to lead the charge to make the college sport more exciting for its spectators and save it from extinction?
Foley: The problem with NCAA wrestling is that there is no centralized body to make all these changes, whereas with FILA, for better or worse, there is an executive committee and a bureau to help make decisions.
We know about the NCAA committee that makes recommendations and the referees who influence the manner in which rules are interpreted, but the flow of information between those committees and the leadership needed to direct change is fairly opaque. I have no idea who comes up with a full rule change and who directs when calls need to be improved. There are guesses, but I'm mostly left wondering who holds the power (outside of the ADs of course).
The NCAA wrestling tournament was a bit more exciting than I expected, but there were still some awfully boring matches. Much of that can be blamed on the rideouts, which have incentivized wrestlers to slow the pace and play for overtime. Referees haven't been calling stalling nearly enough and the four-point stance is about to kill the sport, or I'm about to kill the four-point stance.
Though the committee has proven as susceptible to criticism as AD Smith, it's the referees who also NEED to call more stalling from top and possibly even appeal to have the riding time point eliminated altogether. To be clear, the riding time point was established as a passive means for an in-match tiebreaker and prevent extra overtimes. Then, in 2002, guys like Jesse Jantzen started with the half-ride tilts, which eventually morphed into aggressive SADDLING like we saw with J.P. O'Connor. Soon the ride-time point wasn't a difference maker in a high-scoring match. It was a third of all points in a low-scoring snoozefest.
I also think we should ask AD Smith if he has any ideas. It's possible we'll have to pay for that type of gold-assured input, but my god it's worth it. He's led Logan Stieber to three NCAA championships!
No more #snoreride. #instalegend
Q: With all the recent complaints regarding the rideout and the Delgado-style wrestling (see last week's mailbag), how's this proposal? Folkstyle adopts the one-point pushout. I think you'd see a lot less overtime, a lot less double overtime, and a lot less stalling. For example, under the current rules, in the Big Ten finals Delgado ran to the edge of the mat in the third overtime. Megaludis pushes him out; give Mega a point. Match over. This doesn't solve riding or stalling, but I think limits stalling and overtime. Thoughts?
-- Mark K.
Foley: I love the pushout rule. Again, college wrestling's mysterious overseers did get together to try and solve the lack of scoring. Their solutions have been the flash takedown and an increase to the size of the mat. The idea was that the action never stops, but if there is a boundary that lacks consequence it will always be a matter of getting to the edge. As they could before, defensive wrestlers can force action to the edge of the mat and wait to shoot or defend, only now they can score from ridiculous positions like front head cradles.
Pushouts make sense to common fans and wrestle-heads alike. Instead of everything is in, making everything out and award points for getting your opponent to breach that zone. There are sure to be plenty of consequences, but I guarantee there would be less backpedaling at the end of match and way, way fewer ties. The matches would also go faster because wrestling would happen in the middle of the mat with the clock running.
For those of you who think this is just like sumo, it's not. But if it were ... AWESOME. Have you seen sumo? It's the biggest sport of the world's second-largest economy! Still, lighter weight wrestlers in 30-foot circles shouldn't let someone push them around the mat. They should be able to stand their ground. And when someone is pushing in too hard they are met with pass-bys and shucks. For every move there is a countermove, for every offensive strategy, a better defense.
The new mats are too big and the risks are too high. Too many heavyweights are going to double overtime and too many small guys are in their three-point stances. Incentivize action. Don't try to democratize the sport by making every surface imaginable up for competition. Limit the competition surface and make the guys do what they've been training to do since their AD inspired them to greatness: wrestle.
They might be out-of-touch with their stance on amateurism, but this is one heck of a video. Well done, Oz.
Fun 26-minute episode of Wrestling TV that recaps the action from the Men's Freestyle World Cup and gives the full Iran vs. Russia match.
To quote every college girl in America, "I just can't handle ..."
Q: This is for those who did not watch the World Cup. You missed out. A lot of fuss has been made lately about the lack of action at the college level (rightly so). If you're sick of boring matches then you better have tuned in to the World Cup. There were many great matches (not just those the good ol USA wrestled) and I was on the edge of my seat for the Iran vs. USA dual. The skill level and the increased action has made the international style a great product. Time to buy in folks.
-- Erik B.
Foley: Exactly. See the above video for confirmation!
Q: What's your opinion on Mike Evans' possible defensive fall against Chris Perry in the NCAA semifinals? Regardless, how can refs catch the defensive falls more effectively (for example, the refs blew the call when Matt Brown had, in my opinion, a defensive fall against Chris Perry in the PSU-OSU dual)?
-- Mark K.
Was it a fall?Foley: I think that it's as much about calling it evenly as it is "catching" the defensive fall. Was Perry stuck? Almost certainly. Was he OK to not get called? Sure. That's the nature of a defensive fall, there has to be another extra heartbeat for the referee to call it in any match, much less one of that magnitude.
To be more effective there needs to be a better technical understanding of what is and is not control from the funk position. We've gotten way too lost in our interpretations of the rules. Things like dropping to a single leg need to be called immediate escapes. When someone rolls around overtop and they get caught for more than a few swipes of the leg it's time to start calling backpoints and looking for the fall. What's going on out there is as much jiu-jitsu as it is wrestling, and when the ankles and knees start getting locked up the idea of control is lost.
Let me check with Gene Smith and get back to you with some ideas. You don't happen to have a few extra buck(eyes) laying around do you?
COMMENT(S) OF THE WEEK
By Jeff N.
I am sure some of this is already on your mind or you've already ran it down. My thoughts on the effect of seeding out to 16 vs. only seeding 12. Many predicted that there would be less unseeded guys to place.
Double check my math but only comparing to last year:
2013: 8 unseeded All-Americans
2014: 6 unseeded All-Americans
13-16 seeds that placed in 2014: 6
In theory if they hadn't seeded out to 16, there would've been 12 unseeded All-Americans.
My take: it is irrelevant. The fact that the seeding "system" is not only inconsistent but arbitrary makes all the nonsense revolving around it "much ado about nothing."
It affects matchups only. If you can't beat them all then you shouldn't be crowned the champ. If you need a select path to win it, then you really don't deserve to win. Bottom line is champions get it done and All-Americans earn their spots as well.
By Dave C.
I've been following wrestling for years. At the Big Tens I was very disappointed in the amount of stalling I saw in most all the matches. My opinion? It's killing the sport. I thought the officials were going to be more aggressive than during the dual meet season but there was only a slight dial-up in warnings. I don't recall any stalling points being handed out. Maybe there were one or two cases. I think it would really improve the sport if they instituted two changes. Like international competition, they should have pushouts be one point to the aggressor. And officials absolutely have to hand out more stalling calls, not just warnings but awarding points to the aggressor, and if necessary in the waning seconds of a match. When fans are literally screaming at officials, it's frustrating that in many cases the fans see what the referees apparently don't. What are your thoughts on this? Also, fleeing the mat to avoid a takedown should not be a warning, it should be a point awarded to the opponent.