Foley's Friday Mailbag: January 12, 2018

The council of college football coaches announced this week that they are investigating rules which will allow redshirt freshman players to compete in a total of four regular season games without jeopardizing their redshirt.

There are plenty of reasons why football coaches and administrators would want redshirt athletes on the field: increased learning experience, preservation of eligibility and increased competitiveness. For many of these reasons (and a few more) wrestling would also significantly benefit from redshirt rules which allow some varsity competition.

Over the past few years there has been an increase in the number of forfeits at the collegiate level. Backups are willing to wrestle, but coaches don't want to risk a year of eligibility plugging a freshman redshirt in for a single match. In fact, that all-or-nothing attitude is the crux of the redshirt issue for football, wrestling and many other sports. The NCAA needs to allow for more leniency around redshirting, since giving kids a wider berth on using eligibility allows for a better environment for college athletes to mature, while also giving college sports fan the very best product available.

The college football coaches were unanimous in their support of the rule change, and it's likely that if adopted by the Gods of the Gridiron, wrestling could soon adopt a similar rule change.

Here's to hoping.

To your questions …

Jason Tsirtsis wrestling Iowa's Brandon Sorensen in the Midlands semifinals (Photo/Mark Lundy,

Q: Is there any chance Jason Tsirtsis will win the NCAA title? At the Midlands, Tsirtsis was still wrestling in reactive mode. Too willing to win by a point or two. Don't you think he needs to be more aggressive?
-- @German663

Foley: It's arguably every American wrestler's dream to win an NCAA title, and Tsirtsis has accomplished that goal. Although Tsirtsis' early performance would indicate that he's a perennial threat, his career trajectory was adversely affected by well-documented adversity off the mat. In my opinion, Tsirtsis' perseverance in continuing his wrestling career and the competitiveness he's shown after having major time off is impressive. I'm hopeful that we will see Tsirtsis in Cleveland and with any luck holding some hardware.

Q: In 2017 the last chance qualifier for World Team Trials was May 18. This year Jordan Oliver is suspended until April 29, and notably there is no last chance qualifier scheduled. A few thoughts on this:

Was this just a clickbait article from Flo? They word it "As of now, there is no last chance qualifier in place for the 2018 WTT." Does this just mean that they did not schedule the last chance qualifier yet? Or does this mean they do not plan on holding one? If they do not plan on holding one I have no choice but to cry CORRUPTION! COLLUSION! CAEL IS BEHIND THIS! BIG CAEL IS BAD FOR WRESTLING!!!

OK, my Big Cael conspiracy theory could be a bit of a reach. However, not allowing JO to compete for a spot on the World Team after serving his one-year suspension would be a gross injustice. #FreeJO
-- Jake O.

Foley: Sorry, but none of the changes to the qualification procedures were led by Cael. (Could you imagine if something similar happened between international federations? Wrestling Twitter would FREAK.)

USA Wrestling is looking to overhaul their qualification procedures to help increase the visibility of the nation's top freestyle wrestlers during team selection for 2018. Though one of the top wrestlers in the nation at any weight between 61 kilograms and 70 kilograms, USA Wrestling did not intentionally accommodate Oliver.

This is a good thing. USA Wrestling is making a decision based on many factors, but the date by which an athlete has cleared suspension was not one of them. That might leave Oliver out in 2018, but it is some proof that there is little or no internal manipulations being made in order to accommodate the personal schedules of the athletes looking to make a world team (outside the accepted norms).

USA Wrestling didn't take Cael or JO into account when deciding to create this series. The larger aim seems to increase the visibility of the events and give more individual attention to the wrestlers in the finals.

Oh, and I like the new system. I think it's much fairer to athletes who have to wrestle in a qualification tournament.

Q: Any predictions on Oklahoma State-Iowa on Sunday? I'm especially looking forward to the Nick Piccininni-Spencer Lee match.
-- Mike C.

Foley: Nick Piccininni is coming off a tough loss to Sean Fausz of NC State at last week's dual in Italy. I'm not sure where Spencer Lee's fitness is at right now, but it bodes well for the freshman that his first major test is in Carver-Hawkeye against a top-five opponent with a recent loss. Lots of fur flying that night, too, as the Hawkeyes look to rebound from their bad 24-11 loss in January of 2017.


Mom Week in Amateur Wrestling

Q: After watching some of the Midlands and Scuffle, I agree with those who think that we need to do more to encourage action and discourage stalling. However, as a former referee, I can tell you that this is easier said than done (but it still needs to be done). It probably requires that the secondary referee have responsibility for calling stalling, to let the primary referee focus on his job of calling the match.

But here's a simple change that is easily enforced that would make NCAA matches more interesting: every time action goes out of bounds, you restart in the neutral position (with no escape awarded if one wrestler was on bottom when they went out of bounds). This prevents a wrestler from earning riding time by taking his opponent out of bounds five times. You'd still need to call fleeing the mat (so the top wrestler doesn't just take his opponent out of bounds to avoid giving up one point on the escape), but I think it's worth the risk to try this out and see how much "gaming" of the system ensues.
-- Irv O.

Foley: I like where you are heading with this logic, but I wonder if just getting rid of the riding time point would solve most of these problems. Why is it considered so dominant to lay atop your opponent? If being there provides you no more incentive I think you'd see a dramatic shift in the sport to something with more action on the feet, where coincidentally referees have shown increased consistency in controlling penalties for traipsing out of bounds.

The problem in college wrestling is there is way too much time spent with general inaction. While I understand the sport's roots as a control-focused form of wrestling, the data overwhelming shows that fans lose significant interest in grappling sports once the action hits the ground. Sports that are forced to be on the ground often (jiu-jitsu, judo, sambo) all have submissions which help encourage defensive actions.

College wrestling needs to realize that while control on the ground is important, that fans will continue turning off their TVs and logging off their computers if the sport looks like a modified version of human rodeo.

Q: With the best high school kids seemingly becoming even more elite every year, and more than holding their own on the freestyle/Greco scene, do you think we will ever see a return to letting high schoolers compete against college kids at open style tournaments?
-- Jared W.

Foley: The most successful high school wrestler on the college scene was Cary Kolat, who famously finished third at the Midlands while still in high school. However, we do still see some high school wrestlers competing at the college level with some consistency. You might remember that Gable Steveson competed and won an open tournament earlier in the season. Patrick McKee (Minnesota signee) and Alex Lloyd (SDSU signee) have also competed this year while still only in high school.

As for being invited to Midlands … that has yet to be determined. There might be some insurance circumstances precluding their invitation. The last wrestler I know to have entered was Jason Welch.

Adam Coon at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational (Photo/Tony Rotundo,

Q: Kyle Snyder is arguably the best wrestler in the world. Many think he's surpassed Jordan Burroughs and is the face of American wrestling. However, he's giving up size to a very talented Adam Coon. Sure, Snyder is the favorite, but don't you think Coon has a good chance to upset the Olympic and world champ?
-- Tim R.

Foley: Lord, no. While Coon is arguably the second-best heavyweight in the nation, I don't think there is much opportunity for him to upset Snyder. The difference in skill level is significant, but where many legends fail is in mental preparation, or taking their task seriously enough and eventually falling behind in the match. I don't see that as an issue for Snyder. Also, I assume that with Ohio State locked in a point battle with Penn State, Snyder's Cleveland performance will be his best ever behind Paris in 2017.

Q: I know Cleveland hosted the NCAAs in 1998, but how do you think Cleveland will do as a host city for the NCAAs this year? What are you hearing?
-- Mike C.

Foley: Host cities do take on a pretty major responsibility when hosting events, but their efforts typically only impact the coaches and wrestlers. The fan experience tends to be controlled by the NCAA, who ensures flow of the program and that all their major bullet points are being realized. That's to say that the organizers have a large, detailed book from which to pull guidance on all aspects of the championship.

One place where Cleveland will be challenged is in local hospitality. I've been to the area a few times and each experience has been acceptable. The (sober) people are as friendly as you'd want, while the (not sober) bar patrons tend to be a little, let's say, standoffish.

Overall, I think that it'll be an enjoyable weekend for the sport to celebrate its championship and provide a backdrop for catching up with old friends.


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Merris (1) about 1 year ago
I would prefer to see some of NCAA Div. 3's best at the Midlands than high school wrestlers. There were apparently no D3 invites this year which was a disappointment in my opinion.
CoachC (1) about 1 year ago
Regarding stalling, the former ref commenting seems to have forgotten that he was in charge during the matches and had the obligation to call stalling. If you are in charge, be in charge and set the tone early by hitting stalling. Remember, refs are in charge, so if you are in charge, be in charge. Do not wuss out and say it is difficult to call because 98% of all involved wrestling fans know exactly what it looks like. In my home state, high school coaches used to vote, and maybe still do, on the refs they believe should work the state tournament. Those that did not make the cut were pretty bad, but if you want to make the cut, you won't make the calls that are tough due to the coaches voting. If that is how NCAA refs are chosen, no wonder most appear really incompetent and or scared to make calls. I have been to three of the last six NCAA's and two of the last four Big Tens and it is really frustrating to see a stall call in the last ten seconds on someone who stalled a lot more than that. To review, the refs are in charge, so they should be in charge and be involved in the match. "Let them wrestle, ref" is usually called from the stands by those attached to the wrestlers that are stalling and get hit with it late. Riding time needs to go unless you actually turn someone. No backs, no riding time.
dbestsport (2) about 1 year ago
Your comments about fans losing interest when "The sport hits the ground" is partially true. I have a lot of friends who are peripheral wrestling fans - not a devoted hard core fan like me - and they complain about one guy laying across another guys back, or a guy in a spiral ride. However, they love to watch a guy (like Zain Retherford) who forces a guy to his back and many times gets the pin. That action is as popular to them as wrestling on their feet (they also get bored when guys are tied up ear-to-ear). Folk style wrestling is still the best style, but it would be so much better if we removed the "Riding" mentality and encouraged "Top" wrestlers to be more offensive. The four point near fall was good for guys that are good on top, but it didn't do anything to stop the "Riders". I suggested years ago that a riding time point should only be rewarded if the top man is able to get a turn (back points) while riding his opponent for a minute or more. Definitely a subject that needs more discussion. Thanks.
cradleman (1) about 1 year ago
Andrewmah......Great post!!!!!!!! Sick of hearing about the poor athlete and the Coaches whining about their facilities and treatment. Most college athletes are taken care of. And they also should be taking care of themselves. Sports are easy out of control. Wrestling , for the most part, gets the short end of the stick. We have lost touch with what is actually important. At Alabama there are 10-12 football players who get a chance every year but there are around 100 others who will never sniff the field beyond college. College is supposed to give you an opportunity to gain technical skills thathelpyou acquire employment. And the fall is still supreme. It is only on a rare occasion that a tech fall would be exciting. If you can score that ma ny points , work for the fall.
usmc230 (2) about 1 year ago
That Jake O. guy has a point.
JO is effectively being banned for 2 years, he already sat out last years trials!
#FreeJO, no to Carl!
djhart69 (1) about 1 year ago
So basically football coaches want 4.33 years of eligibility rather than 4? Why not just make it 5? It takes most students more than 4 years to graduate and the ones who are on athletic scholarships are on scholarship for 5 years already.
Or, have the redshirt rule only for injuries, not because an athlete is "not ready". I've always thought redshirting in all college sports is stupid. Why pay for a scholarship athlete to sit?
kanownik (1) about 1 year ago
@Andrewmah - I would argue that sports are big business and you can learn more about your sport in college and your degree to lead a productive life outside of college. We often forget that the most numerous group of wrestling coaches are youth wrestling coaches. These are the parents working full time jobs and coaching 2-3 days a week. Wrestling clubs across the nation always struggle to find enough coaches in their youth programs. Any opportunities to increase college experience in athletics and success in obtaining your degree should at least be analyzed. Look at how Adam Coon just used his redshirt year, to focus on his Aerospace Engineering Degree. Then on to the point of Sports Business. Athletes that are majoring in business, marketing, graphic design and any other business related major and have elite experience in their sport make for great candidates to work for Under Armor, Nike, etc OR create their own start ups....
josefsmoe (1) about 1 year ago
Trump: "Haiti is a **it hole", oh my God, racist, worst imaginable POTUS. Foley: "Half the people of Cleveland are drunk, inhospitable pieces of **it" Carry on, nothing to see here.
clevo (1) about 1 year ago
You been to Cleveland lately? It's neither a Republican majority, nor is it a large cohort of sober sports consumers.
jammen (2) about 1 year ago
All this whining about riding time and yet no complaining about how dreadful bad wrestlers are on bottom. The good wrestlers do escape because they have worked on it. They are not one-dimensional athletes.
Most hs wrestlers spend all their practice time on their feet drilling tds. It's no wonder that they are a fish out of water floundering on bottom when they hit college.
dbestsport (1) about 1 year ago
But they don't get rewarded with a point.
Krtzota (1) about 1 year ago
Lord no huh?? Foley, I'll take that bet. If anyone has a chance of beating Snyder it is Coon. The guy is simply a beast and Snyder will be giving up close to 60lbs against that talent.

Also, you didn't answer the question. Pich or Lee. Make a decision and answer the question, otherwise don't post the question. Geeze Foley.. what a weak response.
AFurnas (2) about 1 year ago
Did Snyder and Coon wrestle two years ago? I thought they did, with Snyder winning, but maybe I'm thinking of another "bigger" opponent that Snyder handled.
ddb191 (1) about 1 year ago
I would love to see Tsirtsis make it back on the podium in March. From everything I’ve seen he’s a great kid, great wrestler and has had some very tough adversity. I’ll be rooting for him to finish where he belongs, as an AA at nationals.
clevo (1) about 1 year ago
As a guy from Cleveland, Foley has a point. The locals are verbally-aggressive, but usually genuinely nice people. Considerate and welcoming at first glance? Probably not. Opinionated? you bet. Loud? Especially when inebriated.
clevo (1) about 1 year ago
And...doping should be a 2-4 year ban. Give people something to lose more than warm-ups for the trials. It's so internationally prevalent in so many sports that we can't take track and field, weightlifting, marathon, etc. seriously anymore. When a whole nation is doping (e.g. Russia), we should extend blanket bans to entire national sanctioning bodies for entire sports when doping is found in more than isolated cases in international competition (like the Olympics). These are sports, not science experiments.
josefsmoe (1) about 1 year ago
Clevo have you been to Haiti lately. As to you comment about Cleveland they don't seem to be exclusive traits of Cleveland. Fill in Cleveland with another city name. My point was no reason for him to be a d*ck and insult the people of a proud hard working city. I am well travelled and live in Cleveland and can assure you that the percentage of jerks and drunks is not exceptional in Cleveland.
clevo (1) about 1 year ago
Josefsmoe - I'm sorry for your loss. I'm from Collinwood with family in Euclid. My parents were public school teachers at Cleveland South, Collinwood Computech, Margaret Spellacy, and Nathan Hale for decades. I know Cleveland. What suburb are you from that you refer to as "Cleveland?" Let me guess, you go downtown from Bay Village for an Indians game a few times a year? Maybe work in Solon? A well-traveled Clevelander generally means you go to Florida for a week each year and maybe a bi-annual trip with some buddies to Vegas.'s a great place to be from, but not a good place to be. And, having been to Haiti, it's friendlier.
soycoach (2) about 1 year ago
Stalling is the interest killer of a fan, as a retired teacher/coach I always emphasized going for the pin. Stalling should not be that difficult to call, riding on top without attempting to pin an opponent is stalling. The crap ride is not a pinning combo. It is a stall ride. A wrestler on bottom who is under control of the top wrestler and can not move, it is the top wrestler that is stalling. If standing, the wrestler's first move is to back up, he is stalling. Come on officials call the matches like the ruls are written.
2xTCAA (1) about 1 year ago
How can T-shirts win the NCAA's this year when he cant make the team? Maruca and Shields keep him off the mat. He's JV at this point. Sounds like wishful thinking on Foley's part.
FredHall (1) about 1 year ago
A couple comments on different subjects. First, and this is a question, but in response to coach C about how referees are chosen. I know a few years back the NCAA used 20 officials at the championships, the coaches had a vote on their top few and at the end the top 12 vote getters came back. The next 4 were invited back on an up or out basis the next year, and the bottom 4 were not invited back and had to work their way back up the ladder. Is that system still being used? . Secondly, in response to comments about stalling, and from being on a score table for 20+ years, the fans and myself do know stalling when we see it, and not just from the visiting team.. Officials are slow to call it and consistently so. If neither is doing anything, at least call a stalemate and start over and do not use lack of action on the top as an out by saying he's doing nothing either. I hate double stall calls, but call it if you see both doing nothing. Do not finally make the first call with 10 seconds remaining in a match. Why bother, when everyone knows the official won't call it again in such a short time frame. Case in point: Wilps vs Kokesh a few years back. Wilps gets an early takedown and avoids wrestling, finally getting a stall call inside 15 seconds.
learnedhand (1) about 1 year ago
Dear Mr, Foley, this was an excellent mail bag. Complete with a grandmotherly busha looking after her son or grandson in that wrestling match. As someone from Cleveland, I grew up in a neighborhood of babushka wearing women, bless their late souls. Cleveland should do well as a host city for the NCAAs., It hosted a bang up Republican convention in 2016. The police presence was such that the troublemakers left. I much liked your talk about riding. But, isn;t the purpose of mat wrestling be a preparation for turning your opponent. Harold Nichols at Iowa State taught that. OK State seemed to take them down, let them up which seems to negate the reason for turning.
DannyClarke (1) about 1 year ago
Foley you clearly weren't a top wrestler...

"Why is it considered so dominant to lay atop your opponent?"

Yeah cause it's so easy to keep D1 wrestler down.. all you have to do is just "lay atop of them"

Merris (1) about 11 months ago
Care to reconsider your response to the Coon v Snyder question?