Overall, the story is still developing and there is some reason to be hopeful about the direction the school will take in the wake of the backlash, but the message for the wrestling community is once again clear; to preserve the number of programs at the collegiate level the involvement by alumni, fans and friends of the program can't self-limit investment to successful years and successful programs. The nature of NCAA athletics and financials of schools demands our community to consider a wider and more generous distribution of funds (by a method TBD) to support programs who are not doing as well as other programs.
(Side note: The profit-share method is why professional baseball has maintained 30-plus teams for 20-plus years.)
For wrestling to succeed with an average of 80-plus programs for the next 20-plus years, our methods need to ensure that. What are some ways we can passively support these programs, or ways in which we can create financial incentives that no school could afford to ignore?
One way that international wrestling supports smaller programs is to have them host events. Could some derivation of that method work for the NCAA? The NWCA All-Star Classic has tried to develop regions through their programs, but maybe something like a regional wrestling tournament held bi-annually would kick off a lot of money. Could youth tournaments help save some of these at-risk programs by providing additional financial capital and access to "friendraising" while athletes, families and friends are in attendance?
Another consideration is the finances of distribution. Does the amount of money charged for a streaming service of matches need to be increased across the board in order to ensure that the schools are becoming more solvent? Do other lawyer-drive measures need to be taken to ensure that state-funded institutions don't change the sports provided to a student body without first having their input?
There are a lot of ways to cut this problem and a variety of potential solutions. For now, sign the petitions and make sure to cause a social media stir, but always keep in mind the longer-term solutions to provide solvency to at-risk programs.
To your questions …
Clarissa Chun wrestling at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
Q: What do you think of Clarissa Chun as the next women's assistant coach at USA Wrestling? And who will USA Wrestling hire as a developmental coach for the men's team now that Brent Metcalf is at Iowa State?
-- Ryan O.
Foley: Clarissa is a fantastic choice for the women's team! There are only a handful of women with her on-the-mat success and international travel experience, but what sets Clarissa apart is her ability to relate to the current team members. It's vital that someone on any team (international, college, high school) can bridge the gap between the head coach and the athlete, and I think that Clarissa can do that with respect of the team and completing whatever needs to be done at the administration level.
On the level of personal interaction Clarissa is also one of the friendliest people in the sport with a passion for learning and coaching. Really excited for her!
As for the men's developmental coach I'd imagine the hiring process will be done within the next few weeks. The developmental coach is a tricky position to fill since it requires a bunch of travel, relocation to Colorado Springs and the idea that they want to be a high level international coach. I can't speak for any one coach's intention, but I think a guy like Jamill Kelly would be a fantastic choice for many of the same reasons that Clarissa is a good assistant fit for the women's side: successful, well-traveled, passionate and able to relate. Remember that the developmental coach will need to coordinate the activities for incoming high school wrestlers and help with international prep camps. It's a big job, but I think that USA Wrestling has shown a history of hiring well-regarded coaches, and this should be no different.
Q: What are your thoughts on the host sites choices for the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships from 2019-2022?
-- Mike C.
Foley: Pittsburgh is an excellent choice. Will be raucous and exciting and packed and … look, that's a great choice.
What irks me are the selections of Detroit and St. Louis. Detroit just didn't work in 2007. Not a great wrestling city and wasn't the perfect situation for fans who wanted walking options for food and booze. Likewise, St. Louis is uninspired. We can all choose to have St. Louis be the forever site of the NCAA Championships or we can cut bait, but visiting once or twice every ten years feels desperate.
Minneapolis? Meh. Sure. Could be cool … or freezing.
Q: Can you educate us on the differences between an RTC (regional training center) and a college wrestling club? This question is due to the clear emphasis at ISU on forming an RTC. What did they have before? How were they limited? What do they now gain? Why doesn't everyone have an RTC?
-- Derek N.
Foley: The regional training center is a designation applied for by an NCAA wrestling program in conjunction with their local or collegiate club. The RTC designation was put in place to help international wrestlers get more mat time without having to be in violation of the NCAA rule set against too many coaches in the room. The rule has been very helpful in allowing all levels of wrestlers with international aspirations to develop more of their skills, but it also has assisted the collegiate programs in getting a few more coaches in the room.
I'm not sure why there wasn't an RTC at Iowa State in the first place. Could have been from a lack of interest, or even a lack of funding which would then justify the designation. There are a lot of little administrative boxes to check in order to maintain your status, but the biggest hindrance is money. For a program to be successful there needs to be a number of wrestlers on site and those wrestlers need to have sponsor money to move forward.
Best of luck to the Iowa State program and all their new momentum. Should be fun to see the in-state rivalry heat up once again.
Mark Cody (Photo/SoonerSports.com)
Q: Who is the most likely to return to college coaching: Drew Pariano, Mark Cody, Jason Peters or Troy Letters?
-- Mike C.
Foley: Word is Mark Cody was recently interviewing for top coaching positions, and missed on at least Davidson. How? I'm not sure, but with news that Andy Lausier has taken the head position at Davidson, I'm happy to see the job go to a good man.
Also, I'd love to see Troy Letters back in the game!
Q: What did you think of the new recommendations by the NCAA Wrestling Rules Committee?
-- Mike C.
Foley: I love the new direction in regards to scrambling. There will be a significant decrease in the number wrestlers who scramble to their backs as a form of finding a stalemate off of someone else's aggressive action. There will be some issues to hearing the referee start the verbal three count.
The new removal of headgear! I'm in a constant running-man of excitement over this absolutely intelligent move. Do you realize that this is the most progressive thing that wrestling has done … ever? We took the logic of the headgear, analyzed its proposed benefits (lack of cauliflower ear and reduction of concussions) and compared it to science … and then instead of rejecting it we said, "Yeah. This is a net negative!"
Bravo. Bravo 10x. Makes me proud to be a wrestler.
Also, beards will SIGNIFICANTLY reduce the transmission of skin diseases like impetigo and herpes, which are made worse by the micro abrasions which come with shaving.
Q: I tend to see wrestlers from the West Coast ride their opponent more and wrestle on the mat, and wrestlers from the East Coast standing and using a hand-to-hand style of wrestling. What is the better style of wrestling in your opinion? Or is it better to be more well-rounded?
-- Gregg Y.
Foley: I'm not sure that I agree with the overarching premise, but I'll entertain.
There are certainly regional styles, which are often a result of last generation's successful wrestlers becoming the next generation's successful coaches. This adds an element of history and tradition to an area, which is something I agree is persistent and visible. For example, Young Guns wrestlers in Pennsylvania all wrestle with heavy hands, which is very like the style we saw from the late 90's Iowa wrestlers. This makes sense when you consider Jody Strittmatter was on those teams and is the head guy at Young Guns.
The West Coast has always been a little more creative and avant-garde with their approach to the sport. In the 90's it was Fresno State's approach to funk wrestling that helped change the way the sport is wrestled at the collegiate and high school level. They were risk takers with a high level of technique, speed and flash.
I can see those elements in wrestlers from both coasts and I appreciate the history. As to what is more effective? I think that whatever works for you will always be the best style, but overall fundamentals will always deliver the most victories and best base for growth as a wrestler.
RANT OF THE WEEK
I am very distressed by Boise State's announcement to drop wrestling. It now appears they hired a lesser known coach in preparation for this move. This was a solid program that has recent history of being a consistent top-tier finisher with All Americans. Baseball is not exactly the most popular sport in that region and wrestling does pretty well there. I have been told before this is not USA Wrestling's domain. Is it too late for the NCWA and USA Wrestling to fight for this to not happen? Surely raising a million dollars prior to next season is doable. This is a bad sign for the sport and particularly the western region. Boise State is not a small school and if they are getting cut more will likely follow. I hope that there is a serious effort made to save them!