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Foley's Friday Mailbag: February 17, 2017

The United States rocketed off to an impressive 2-0 start yesterday at the 2017 Freestyle World Cup in Kermanshah, leading to a lot of positive vibes heading into this morning's matchup with Azerbaijan, who is also 2-0. The winner will face Iran in the gold-medal final.

By the time you read this entry the United States will have already won or lost their match, but regardless of the outcome some real signposts for the future have been planted.

The first major takeaway is that the team is well-coached. The American system for training can be a bit detached, with local coaches assuming much of the day-to-day training and the national team coaches left to prepare for individual matchups. The science of preparation for individual opponents seems to be at an all-time high with Coach Bill Zadick, a fact that either drives, or compliments the team's innate confidence. Down early? Down late? No problem, Team USA seems to always have an answer.

Maybe this takeaway will be muted Friday, but when tallying these early Freestyle World Cup results with the performance at the 2016 World Championships, the future of USA Wrestling has never looked brighter.

To your questions …

David Taylor defeated Jake Herbert at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)

Q: David Taylor has looked awfully good at the Freestyle World Cup. Are you taking Taylor, J'den Cox or someone else as Team USA's representative at 86 kilograms at this year's World Championships?
-- Mike C.


Foley: Taylor had a tremendous opening day at the 2017 Freestyle World Cup. Without Kyle Dake in the 86-kilogram bracket I think that we could see a very real battle between Taylor and J'den Cox for the World Team spot (followed closely by Richard Perry).

While Cox has been floating around the college scene all year it would be a mistake to look at DT's gains and not balance them with similar maturity on the part of Cox. He can wrestle anywhere and find his way to the podium and with only a handful of losses in his first season of senior level freestyle I still like Cox's chance to hold the spot.

Proposal for NCAA rule changes
By David F.


This proposal is to make collegiate wrestling more exciting and align to Olympic/freestyle wrestling.

  • Enforce out of bounds and the pushout rule
    If a wrestler walks backwards (intentionally or unintentionally) out of bounds, is pushed out of bounds or fleas the mat, then it is 1 point for the wrestler who stayed in bounds.

  • Award back-exposure points in scramble positions
    I'm all for a good scrambles in college wrestling, but things are getting a bit out of hand, especially with how good these kids are getting at scrambling. If a wrestler in a scramble position exposes his/her back (intentionally or unintentionally) for longer than a referee three count, whether from neutral position or the starting referee position, then the other wrestler is awarded 2 points. Similar to exposure rules in freestyle wrestling.

  • Break up the scoring and overall concept of riding time
    I'm guessing that not many like to watch the snore ride or the aggressive cuddling that has become riding time in college wrestling. To enhance our product we need wrestling to align with freestyle and have wrestlers trying to score from their feet or the top position.

    I propose that if a wrestler is taken down, then the top wrestler has 30 seconds to turn the bottom wrestler. If no exposure or pinning move is in effect at the end of 30 seconds, then the referee will stand both wrestlers back up, as if it was a stalemate. Logistically speaking the second referee would be in charge of clock awareness with the scorer's table.

    If the bottom wrestler is put on their back within the 30-second ride (by cradle, tilt, arm-bar, etc.) and gets back to his base (breaks the hold of the offensive wrestler, belly's out & is not pinned), then both wrestlers will be put back on their feet to continue from the neutral position.

    The bottom wrestler will still be awarded a 1-point escape if actively pursuing to get back to the neutral position and freeing themselves from top control within the 30-second rideouts. Also, reversal would still be 2 points, then that top wrestler would have 30 seconds to turn the bottom wrestler.

    The biggest change to riding time that I would make is if the top/offensive wrestler has two (full) 30-second rideouts, then they would be awarded a point. This would be the case for either wrestler that had top control for a full minute (two 30-second rideouts) and would rid the idea of "erasing" riding time and the technicalities of clock maintenance for riding time. Also, if a wrestler were to score two additional takedowns and another two (full) 30-second rideouts, after already being awarded 1 point, they would be given an additional point. Hence, every 1 minute of full riding = 1 point.

    I think these changes would bring more excitement to the college mat without completely altering the current product of college wrestling. Also, I believe these rules could be easier explained to the newcomer or casual fan of our sport (let's face it, it's never easy to explain riding time to a noob), as points are being awarded to the aggressor and it's a closer model to freestyle wrestling.

    Proposal for NWCA Division I National Duals
    By Mike M.


    A large part of the NCAA wrestling discussions this week surround the NWCA Division I National Duals matchups, what rules or lack of allowed those matchups and the format in general.

    I believe it's obvious the only way everyone is going to buy in currently is if it makes sense from a financial perspective. What would the magic number be for a minimal payout for a school to, for lack of a better term, be forced to participate?

    Here would be my proposal for a format change. But from a fiscal perspective, I don't know if there is enough incentive to get everyone to buy in with this type of format.

  • Championship Committee handles team rankings. The rankings initial release is the first week of December and is updated weekly.

  • Dual Championships will be held in one location on one day. Early session for Round 1 matches, late session for championship match. No third-place match.

  • Dual Championship will be held on the last Saturday of January to give more of a buffer before conference tournaments.

  • Four teams are invited based on the final rankings that will be posted two weeks prior to the National Duals date.

  • No more than two teams from any one conference will be allowed to participate.

  • At least three conferences must be represented.

  • The initial seeding it based on ranking.

  • If two teams from the same conference have wrestled each other already in the current season, they will not be matched up in the opening round regardless of seed.

  • The only way two teams from the same conference would be matched up in the first round is if they haven't wrestled yet met in the current season and the other two teams have already wrestled each other in the current season.

  • Participating schools will split a percentage of the gate, with the finalist receiving a slight bump (finalists 15% of gate, other two schools 10%). Possibly a percent of the sale of the TV rights as well.

  • Host the NWCA open tournament with a Journeymen type round-robin format on the same day or prior/following day in a location at or near the venue hosting the National Duals. This will allow schools to leave that date open and have travel arrangements already in place.

    Q: I'm really interested in your thoughts on what that magic number is to make it financially worth it for a program to participate in the Division I National Duals. Until everyone participates the prestige of being crowned the champion isn't going to establish itself. Once the prestige establishes itself it would seem the financial incentive would be less of a deciding factor.
    -- David M.


    Foley: First I love the ideas here. It's the type of thinking the NCAA and NWCA could use, though I imagine politics would be played out behind the scenes.

    To financially incentivize you would need to move to a cash prize system, but based in the way that the NCAA operates a direct financial payout for a victory on the field would NEVER be kosher. In a parallel universe it would be $100,000, $50,000 and $25,000 for the top three teams. Maybe you could get a one-time TV and streaming deal, but I'd be interested to see how that was brokered.

    Q: I'm a little frustrated that we're not seeing Iowa and Virginia Tech wrestle at the NWCA Division I National Duals. It seems like Tom Brands wants nothing to do with wrestling Virginia Tech. I don't think Iowa is afraid of Virginia Tech, but it seems like it's related to what happened over a decade ago with Brent Metcalf, Jay Borschel and others. Any thoughts on this?
    -- Mike C.


    Foley: I don't think that Tom Brands and Kevin Dresser get along super well. I don't think there is significant incentive for Iowa to compete against Virginia Tech without at least a semblance of the national title at stake. I don't think Brands is scared of Virginia Tech.

    This is very clearly not a black and white matter of principle. This is a collection of matters that has built up over the years between the NWCA, NCAA and some personal gruff. The end result is that two teams -- who control their schedule -- are choosing to not wrestle. While I'd love to see these two take the mats against each other this season, I'm not super upset at Iowa for not taking the matchup.

    If you're an Iowa guy, where's the upside?

    Q: What's the latest with Aaron Pico? Will he be wrestling for a spot on the World Team? I thought I read somewhere that he will be making his Bellator debut this year, but I could be wrong.
    -- Mike C.


    Foley: You read correctly. He is expected to make his Bellator debut in July.

    Q: As it stands today, which teams do you think will produce the most All-Americans in St. Louis? Penn State and Oklahoma State will most likely have their fair share of NCAA placers, but what other teams do you think will have an impressive showing at the NCAAs?
    -- Sean M.


    Foley: Penn State with seven All-Americans. Oklahoma State and Virginia Tech each with six All-Americans. Iowa with five and Ohio State with four.

    Q: Johny Hendricks has had a successful MMA career, but has struggled a lot with his weight and is on the back side of his career. He fights Hector Lombard this weekend. Any predictions on that fight?
    -- Mike C.


    Foley: This is a fascinating matchup. Both men are large one-punch fighters with platinum grappling credentials. Johny will find Hector to be a handful on the cage, but if he can weather an early storm of haymakers and overhooks he can tire out the Cuban judoka-turned Aussie fighter. If he fails to prepare for Hector's right hand, or was deficient in his strength training leading up to this weight class move, then Johny could face a very short, very painful night in the Octagon.

    COMMENT OF THE WEEK
    By Joe S.


    Every season there is a lot of hand-wringing about the number of forfeits in dual meets, the ducking of opponents to protect seeds or to avoid additional opportunities for tactical adjustment, the scheduling of weak opponents, the skipping of tough tournaments, etc. It seems to me that these problems are really symptoms of a simple, core truth that isn't being addressed: wrestling is a physically demanding combat sport for which a heavy load of competitions is not in the best interest of the athlete. David Taylor candidly remarked recently that his current great form is the result of a training formula that is supplemented by about 25-30 matches annually, and of course in freestyle that might mean just one tournament every other month. To do more competitions has the negatives of greater risk of injury, fatigue, inability to peak, not to mention the problems of making weight more often.

    Maybe by accepting this fact and reconstructing the NCAA season accordingly we could have healthier participants and offer a better product of major and minor events (chosen during the season to meet the athlete's needs) culminating in the NCAA tournament.
  • Comments

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    gentinolaw (1) about 5 months ago
    Iowa would win 7 of 10 against VT (all but 174,197,Hwt). VT deprived fans a year of watching Metcalf, Borschel, Slaton, and LeClere compete. Despite a strong program, VT does not deserve to host the Hawkeyes to draw needed fans. Karma.
    mzendars (2) about 5 months ago
    What about one vs two this weekend. I see PSU 28-12 in a walk over OK ST.
    trescuit11 (1) about 5 months ago
    gentinolaw, you're forgetting that VT paid for these kids to redshirt for a year and that brands crippled the VT program by leaving after 2 years with half the team joining him.

    on a side note, i agree with some of David F's proposed rules, except the pushout rule. if both wrestlers are wrestling it works. however, if you have a style like Iowa's, then the kid will just try to sumo you out of bounds
    rmarch63 (1) about 5 months ago
    The one problem I see with Mike M's proposal is that most of this year the B1G had three of the top 4 rankings. If you were to get rid of those teams it would not be a "true" championship based on rankings. You need more than 4 teams.
    djhart69 (3) about 5 months ago
    Proposed folkstyle rule changes? Haven't we seen the exact same or very similar rule change proposals in the mailbag a few times already, even recently? Get over it! Folkstyle is fine the way it is, don't ruin it by making more like freestyle, the styles are different with different rules. Please, keep it that way!
    mzendars (2) about 5 months ago
    US just lose a close one to Iran at worlds. Taylor ran through the field. I think Cox (question above) will have a hard time getting pass him now. I don't believe NCAA matches help him or Snyder. Stay at the top level.
    jammen (2) about 5 months ago
    djhart69, remember that Foley is paid by the UWW to promote their product. If the NCAA hired Foley he would promote Folkstyle rules.
    ellascott (1) about 5 months ago
    "...The end result is that two teams -- who control their schedule -- are choosing to not wrestle."

    I think it would be more accurate to say that Iowa is choosing not to wrestle VT, which is certainly their right. From everything I have read or heard, VT is willing to wrestle Iowa.
    footestomper (4) about 5 months ago
    Wow, a lot going on in wrestling right now!
    1. Rule proposal: Any wrestler who "fleas the mat" should be exterminated!!!
    2. USA defeats Azerbaijan, 4-4 (criteria). USA vs IRAN for all the marbles. Winners were Logan Stieber, James Green (10-0), Jordan Burroughs (DQ), and David Taylor (12-2 vs 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist). Close losses by Ramos (3-2), Gwiz (3-1), and Snyder (5-4). All the details here:
    www.teamusa.org/USA-Wrestling/Features/2017/February/17/US-advances-to-World-Cup-final-with-4-4-win-over-Azerbaijan
    4. Looking forward to PSU vs Okie St. Have my tickets and will be traveling to Stillwater.
    5. For the third time . . . I have always respected the Intermat rankings . . . but lately the individual weight rankings are not consistent with the team rankings (or vice-versa). The Dual Team rankings are looking more and more like FOOTBALL rankings (i.e. lacking in credibility). Let's start with the assumption that the weight class rankings are valid. The Intermat stance stated on 01/29/17 was:

    "Oklahoma State started the season ranked No. 1 and has gone undefeated, beating several ranked teams, including Iowa, Cornell, Minnesota, Oklahoma and South Dakota State. The Cowboys have not done anything to surrender their No. 1 ranking. Penn State started the season ranked No. 4. The Nittany Lions have continued to climb the rankings based on their dual meet results … and now sit at No. 2. While Penn State may be favored in more matches against Oklahoma State -- and may win on paper -- Oklahoma State remains No. 1 based on where they started the season and their season results. After the season begins, InterMat's dual meet rankings are based on dual meet results, not which team wins on paper.

    If the rankings hold, Oklahoma and Penn State will meet in the NWCA Division I National Duals finals. Obviously, if Penn State wins they become the No. 1 dual meet team. However, until Oklahoma State does something to surrender their No. 1 ranking, they will remain No. 1.

    Penn State moved to No. 1 in the tournament rankings, which is based on the rankings of their individual wrestlers."

    This is crazy. The initial rankings were published on 10/18/17, fully FOUR MONTHS ago. While it is true that Okie St hasn't done anything to surrender that ranking, it is also true that a lot HAS happened to make the "committee" reassess their rankings. For example, there have been major changes in the individual rankings of PSU wrestlers since OCTOBER: Suriano was initially ranked 10th, now is #2. Nevills was ranked 14th, now at #3. The initial 165 wrestler was ranked 18th, now Hall is #7. The 197 weight class was unranked, now McCutcheon is #9. On the other hand, the biggest changes at Oklahoma State were the following: Piccininni was #15, now #11. And, initially OSU has nobody ranked at HWT until 11/29/17 when Shafer entered the ranking at #12, and is currently #6. The rest of the team had "minor" changes (i.e. no more than a difference of 3 ranking spots): Brock +3, Collica +2, Smith -3, Rogers -3, Crutchmer -3, Boyd +1, Weigel -1.

    Head-to-head, based on the individual weight rankings, PSU took the advantage on 12/20/16. Based on these rankings PSU would win 6-4. The rankings remained to reflect this until 01/24/17 (Hall entered the rankings), and the PSU advantage went to 7-3, AND has remained that way for the rankings on 01/31/17, 02/07/17, and 02/14/17. NO amount of bonus points by a team winning 3 matches can overcome a team that wins 7 matches. The closest possible outcome is 3 pins vs 7 decisions, an 18-21 loss.

    IF you stand behind your individual weight rankings, THEN you must rank PSU ahead of OSU.

    Oh, wait, "InterMat's dual meet rankings are based on dual meet results." Really? (The following based on Intermat's current Dual Team rankings). H: Home, A: Away.

    OSU dual meet victories: #3 Iowa (H), 24-11. #8 Cornell (H), 23-19. #11 Mizzou (A), 20-16. Also, wins over #13 Minny, #14 SDSU, #18 OU (twice), #23 Edinboro, and #25 Pitt.

    PSU dual meet victories: #3 Iowa (A), 26-11. #4 tOSU (A), 32-12. #6 Nebraska (A), 27-14. #10 Rutgers (H), 37-6. #12 Lehigh (H), 30-10. Also, wins over #13 Minny, #20 Wisconsin, and #21 Stanford.

    How does the "committee" ignore the close wins by OSU over #8 (23-19), and #11 (20-16)? How does the committee ignore wins by PSU over #3 Iowa (AT Iowa), #4 tOSU (AT tOSU), and #6 Nebraska (AT Nebraska)?

    Luckily, and I mean that is the truest sense of the word, these two teams meet each other on Sunday.

    4. NO dual meet arrangement can exceed the excitement of the NCAA tournament for one simple reason: EVERY wrestler is wrestling to WIN. You won't find a wrestler at the tournament trying to lose by "only a decision" or trying to keep the match to "only a major decision." At the tournament it's WIN or go to the consolation bracket. Then, it's WIN or go home. My vote is to keep the NCAA tournament alone. It is, by far, the most exciting 3 days of college wrestling, year after year.

    6. I'd like to apply for the position of "ranking committee" at Intermat.
    johnmac47 (1) about 5 months ago
    I certainly think you have the requisite "common and analytical sense" to be on the ranking committee at Intermat!
    footestomper (1) about 5 months ago
    mzendars: thanks for the update. just read the blog on FLO. Wow, what a tournament for David Taylor! From the pics it looks like he has spent some time in the weight room! Techs the 2012 Olympic Gold medalist, and then pins the 2016 Rio Gold medalist. Also, a win over an Olympic Bronze medalist.
    footestomper (1) about 5 months ago
    Sorry to post again, but you must see: www.flowrestling.org/article/52104-iranian-fans-shower-team-usa-with-love
    So great that Iran lifted the ban and allowed USA to come to the tournament. And, watch the videos attached to the article. WOW, what GREAT WRESTLING FANS there are in Iran!!! And, of course, great wrestlers! And, super sportsmanship. Very impressive.
    dbestsport (3) about 5 months ago
    I do not agree with the "Back-exposure" rule. That aspect of free style is inferior to folk style.

    To gentinolaw...I am guessing you said the same thing last year when Iowa hosted NC State. Of course it didn't quite work out that way.
    DannyClarke (1) about 5 months ago
    Really glad David F isn't charge of anything important. Awful rule changes.

    Foley, every other mailbag is proposed rule changes. Change it up a bit.

    @gentinolaw... uhhh very real possibility Dance would beat Gilman.
    d2farmer77 (1) about 5 months ago
    DannyClarke I'm guessing you're the kind of a guy who gets off yelling "stalling" at every match and just loves the idea of 3 minute + riding time matches, where it's a final score of 2-1. Creep. I hate to see what you're idea of fun on the weekend is. Stick to being stuck in the mud buddy. Change is coming and you'll probably sulk and cry when you can't watch the dry hump anymre.
    johnmac47 (1) about 5 months ago
    footestomper - thanks for the analysis. I also looked at the comparison between Penn State and Oklahoma State and, of course, came to the same conclusion that Penn State should be ranked ahead of Oklahoma State in the Dual Meet standings.

    mzendars I also agree with your forecast of Penn State beating Oklahoma State 28-12 (but I do think Penn State will get more than 28 - we will see).
    wrstlr2504 (2) about 5 months ago
    Ohio State has Tomasello, Micah and Bo Jordan, Martin, Moore, and Snyder, with Pletcher having an outside shot. Who out of those are you picking not to AA since you only predict them to have 4?
    DannyClarke (2) about 5 months ago
    Aw, D2Farmer / David F don't get so bent out of shape that people don't like your rule changes! For the record, I don't yell Stalling every 5 seconds (not an Iowa fan). I'm not even an old guy! (relatively speaking) and I'm not stuck in the mud BUT let me breakdown the biggest gripes I have with your rules.

    1. Enforce out of bounds and the pushout rule
    If a wrestler walks backwards (intentionally or unintentionally) out of bounds, is pushed out of bounds or fleas the mat, then it is 1 point for the wrestler who stayed in bounds.

    -Actually this one isn't THAT bad^ but it's a subjective call like fleeing the mat which isn't always called correctly now but whatever the rule works in freestyle since its valued less than a takedown. Probably going to see a lot of Iowa guys who already try to win the hand-fight just pushing people out for push out points. They already do this and call for stalling. (Again, I'm not one of those guys for the record). Probably gonna be abused and see more pushouts less takedowns in close big matches but sure why not. It could be implemented.

    'Award back-exposure points in scramble positions
    I'm all for a good scrambles in college wrestling, but things are getting a bit out of hand, especially with how good these kids are getting at scrambling. If a wrestler in a scramble position exposes his/her back (intentionally or unintentionally) for longer than a referee three count, whether from neutral position or the starting referee position, then the other wrestler is awarded 2 points. Similar to exposure rules in freestyle wrestling"
    ---- 3 count is awfully quick to award Wrestler1 for not having any control while Wrestler2 is passing W1s leg and then ends up getting the takedown. Now its a 3-2 exchange for W1 who never had control over W2 AND gave up a takedown? okay....

    "I propose that if a wrestler is taken down, then the top wrestler has 30 seconds to turn the bottom wrestler. If no exposure or pinning move is in effect at the end of 30 seconds, then the referee will stand both wrestlers back up, as if it was a stalemate. Logistically speaking the second referee would be in charge of clock awareness with the scorer's table.

    If the bottom wrestler is put on their back within the 30-second ride (by cradle, tilt, arm-bar, etc.) and gets back to his base (breaks the hold of the offensive wrestler, belly's out & is not pinned), then both wrestlers will be put back on their feet to continue from the neutral position."
    ---- My biggest issue with your rules^... W1 gets a takedown, performs a tilt, gets points... W1 has to break the hold to pick up another set of back points. Just cause W2 gets back to his base they get to go back to neutral? HELL no. W1 gets a leg in and gets a turn. W2 merely gets off his belly and you stand them up? B.S.! If you don't want to get turned... get better at bottom. Maybe enforce the rules we already have like working up the body.

    ^Your rules push for freestyle changes like pushouts / exposure and are against riding time... but they're also just bad for top wrestling and turning/pinning in general.
    ___________________________________
    "Aggressive Cuddling" ... "Dry humping" ..
    Sounds like you are projecting. You should reflect on that. It's 2017 it's okay if you're gay, pal.

    P.S. - You can hate me all you want but I'm right when I say no one is implementing YOUR rule changes... If they were you'd be having this conversation with people on the NCAA committee not submitting your ideas to Foleys Mailbag.

    Have a great weekend!
    ResiliteMarine (1) about 5 months ago
    There's been lots of Chatter regarding the lack of 'network' coverage of the PSU @ OSU match. Here in State College, PA, three restaurants are now showing it and other venues are looking into it, including a Fire Hall. Anyone else seeing this in your communities?
    jmantom (1) about 5 months ago
    I've seen rumors today that VT coach Dresser is the leading candidate, likely to take the job, at Iowa St. If Brands is ducking him, it won't last much longer.
    lesman67 (1) about 5 months ago
    I think you may be off by a couple with AAs for tOSU. Tomesello, M. Jordan, B. Jordan, M. Martin, K. Moore, and of course, K. Snyder all have great chances to become AAs. Also, I can see Penn St. placing 8 on the podium. 125, 141, 149, 157, 165, 174, 184, hwy. Iowa does get five, 125, 133, 149, 157, 184
    mzendars (2) about 5 months ago
    PSU 27-13 over OK ST. I predicted 26-12. If Suraino does get injury it would have been 30-7. Not one OK ST wrestlers were better then their rankings. PSU to run away with NCAA
    johnmac47 (1) about 5 months ago
    In total agreement mzendars - total agreement!
    footestomper (2) about 5 months ago
    1. mzendars: yes, the score could have been worse . . . The Suriano default was big. I believe Suriano was on his way to a major, we will never know. Hope he is OK. Apparently he was carried out for the team picture by Jake Varner. Then, I think Jimmy pinned Heil FOUR times. The news reports seem to agree on twice. But, I was there, had a perfect view of Heil completely FLAT to the mat. NO question. The third time (by my count) it had to be for 3 full seconds! Can't wait to watch the replay!!! Nolf is crazy good, and Bo is just a monster. Great third period by McCutcheon.
    2. Intermat: Come on man! Is this enough to move PSU up to #1 in your dual team rankings? Now, don't rush to judgment on this . . . Take a moment . . . Ahhhhh, yes . . . . Yes it is.
    footestomper (2) about 5 months ago
    3. ALL of the Oklahoma State fans we met were extremely nice, and show great sportsmanship. Gallagher-Iba Arena is a super venue for wrestling. Really enjoyed our first trip to Stillwater.