Foley's Friday Mailbag: June 8, 2018

The first of three Final X events goes down Saturday night in Lincoln, Neb. Headlining the evening is four-time world champion and 2012 Olympic champion Jordan Burroughs in a best-of-three series against Isaiah Martinez at 74 kilograms. That's a new opponent for JB, but few expect a different outcome.

While the hometown and national press will follow along as Burroughs tussles toward another U.S. World Team, there are a number of other compelling matchups, namely Nebraska's James Green vs. Jason Chamberlain at 70 kilograms and Daton Fix vs. Thomas Gilman at 57 kilograms.

For fans the Fix vs. Gilman matchup is made by their opposing collegiate loyalties and personality differences. But for fans of the international scene it's an important battle that could forecast Team USA's ability to defend their team gold in 2018 and help determine a trajectory for Tokyo 2020.

Gilman, who earned silver at the 2017 World Championships in Paris, is the highest lightweight placewinner since Henry Cejudo in 2008. Before that Sammie Henson took bronze at 55 kilograms and Mike Zadick took silver at 60 kilograms in 2006. That's a solid finish, but after a pair of losses at the World Cup in Iowa City the Gilman style might be exposed to the international community, which could affect future outcomes.

At 57 kilograms that matters. For those who've been tuning into the early season freestyle action across the world, there is a definitive dearth of talent at the lightest freestyle weight class. The world's top talent has either gone up a weight class in response to same day weigh-ins, or simply aged out. That leaves a talent vacuum that the USA -- with a proven track record of same day weigh-ins -- could capitalize upon with their new lightweight talent.

That's not to say nobody remains. Yuki Takahashi of Japan is worthy of praise, but the separation between Takahashi and Fix/Gilman isn't as great as say the separation the USA felt in 2016 when Dan Dennis represented the USA and Vladimer Khinchegashvili won the gold for Georgia.

To that point, Olympic bronze medalists Haji Aliyev (Azerbaijan) and Hassan Rahimi (Iran) have both since vacated the weight and were replaced in 2017 by bronze medalists Andrey Yatsenko (Ukraine) and Bekhbayar Erdenebatyn (Mongolia). Both are talented, but nowhere near the talent pool of 2016 and before.

So it's the opportunity for world gold that really makes the Fix/Gilman match special. Who wins there has a higher chance of placing in Budapest than all but Snyder, Burroughs and Green. The winner will be in the driver's seat leading into the 2018 World Championships and set the trajectory heading into Tokyo 2020.

To your questions …

Adam Coon will attempt to make the World Team in both freestyle and Greco-Roman (Photo/Tony Rotundo,

Q: So Adam Coon is wrestling at the Greco World Team Trials in Oklahoma then has to turn around and wrestle in the Final X in Pennsylvania the next night. This seems like a tall task. I love it when wrestlers go ironman. How much will this travel and competition hinder Coon in his match with Nick Gwiazdowski?
-- Robert W.

Foley: Yeesh. It's a short flight, but anytime you are asked to compete two days in a row there would be an expectation that performance would be impacted. Coon is about the most self-confident competitor in the nation and I'm sure Coach Bormet has him primed for the challenge, but you have to expect that time spent traveling to and from airports and jamming into seats made for men half your size will affect the big man's energy level.

Unless Coon's flying private, in which case he's Bruce Wayne and totally fine to pull back-to-back matches for a spot on the national team.

Q: Now that the U23 freestyle team is set, rank the medal chances from most likely to least likely.
-- Mike C.

61 kilograms: Vitali Arujau
92 kilograms: Michael Macchiavello
70 kilograms: Hayden Hidlay
86 kilograms: Myles Martin
97 kilograms: Kollin Moore
65 kilograms: Mitchell McKee
57 kilograms: Jack Mueller
74 kilograms: Alex Smythe
79 kilograms: David McFadden
125 kilograms: Youssif Hemida

I really can't tell how they'll fair overall until I see who else is competing at the U23 World Championships. However, remember that we are still several months away from this tournament and these guys are only going to improve in that time, with most traveling to Colorado Springs and other RTC's for selective training. They'll also have some collegiate training to keep them warm.

Q: What is stopping more Division I guys from going Greco?
-- R.M.

Foley: More than 90 percent of current NCAA wrestlers don't train any Greco-Roman throughout the season. It's too far removed from folkstyle, which is where most American wrestlers choose to focus their time and efforts.

For guys to get good at Greco-Roman takes more than just self-determination, too. Training partners, coaching staff and a budget to train with other top-level athletes would also need to be in place should any college athlete want to make the move to Greco. That structure is part of the reason Northern Michigan has a Greco-only program and that USA Wrestling is working hard to get the best Greco prospects tracked from an earlier age.

Q: Do you expect Yoel Romero to get revenge this weekend against Robert Whittaker? Or is Whittaker just a bad matchup for him? Romero is 41 years old, so I'm not sure how many more years he has left.
-- Mike C.

Yoel Romero
Foley: Expect revenge? No. Wishing Yoel wins? Yes

I think Yoel has the opportunity to put Whittaker away early, but that largely comes down to his game plan and willingness to execute. Yoel tends to put people away in the third round. They're exhausted and battered, while he's still peaking. But with Whittaker it won't be as easy since the Kiwi showed a willingness to go the final ten minutes full hearted -- something that affected Yoel's output as much as physical conditioning.

No matter the outcome I will always love Yoel. Incredible wrestler and he did the world a favor when he smacked down wackadoodledoo Tim Kennedy.


Romero vs. Kennedy

Q: What are your thoughts on the growth of wrestling in South Carolina since we found out this week Lander University is adding a men's Division II team and Presbyterian College with the first Division I women's wrestling team added this past year? There were only two in 1998 when I graduated from high school. Now we have seven.
-- @hillcrestwrst

Foley: More wrestling opportunities in South Carolina is wonderful. Good luck to those schools and future wrestlers.

That said, a word of caution ...

While the growth is encouraging we should all recognize that wrestling didn't suddenly become one of the fastest growing sports for Division II, III, NAIA and the community college circuit by the force of the sport's merits. In large part the growth has been driven by enrollment-based schools who offer the sport as an incentive for attendance. With the government ensuring loans for any student looking to attend college, the risk to the college is minimal. In essence the colleges are enticing students to attend, get paid up front and then leave students to carry the debt. Student loan debt in American is now larger than credit card debt.

I don't have an objection to wrestling being part of that model, but we need to look at the issues of student loans and ask ourselves what is and is not the right path forward for our youngsters.

Q: RUDIS keeps teasing their soon-to-be-released shoes on social media. It's exciting to see a new company in the wrestling shoe market. I know Kyle Snyder will have his own shoe. Do you think Isaiah Martinez will too?
-- Mike C.

Foley: Designing and producing one shoe (from scratch) is probably enough of a financial risk for RUDIS. Imar represents the brand's desire to work with wrestlers they trust who have a good brand to sell. I think we'll see T-shirts and the rest with some Imar branding, but mostly he'll just be a RUDIS-sponsored wrestler who reps the brand's major gear, maybe even Kyle Snyder's shoe.

Q: How are college volunteer assistants paid and what is the pay range for the job?
-- @jlstock_james

Foley: Volunteer assistants are in an interesting spot. As the name implies the school can't pay for their services, so they are usually paid a salary by the adjoining club. For the upper echelon of NCAA programs the volunteer assistant gig could mean $80,000 with the expectation that you are full-time employee who also runs the local club practices.

Most volunteer coaches make far less than $80,000, with many not expected to work a full 40-hour week for the program. They might get extra income from camps, be in school, or even use tuition remission to offset the lack of pay. Overall, not a great source of income, but for young coaches its often the place they need to start if they ever want to take over a program.

As a reference point to the massive pay disparities in the sport, the first assistant coaching job I took was as a second assistant making $14,000 a year (plus housing). I know of one assistant coach in 2018 who makes more than $150,000 a year. That's the most dramatic example possible, but does help illustrate the pay gap.

Overall, most assistant coaches are paid between $40,000 and $70,000 depending on experience, location and the school's funding. For long-term assistants at places like Michigan, Iowa and Virginia Tech you could assume they are making north of $100,000 (including camps, etc.). For a new assistant at a smaller cap school that number will be much more modest.


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djhart69 (3) about 9 months ago
Wow, right wing trolls are everywhere! The first two comments again this mailbag. I always wonder are these just your run of the mill ignorant, angry rednecks or are they working for Putin?
That being said I can agree with part of what Andrewmah said, the third paragraph that is. But the 2nd paragraph makes me laugh every time I see similar comments.
To the ignorant rednecks, fascists and other Trumpsters, education, knowledge and understanding of our world is nothing but "Liberal Propaganda".
Tyranny depends on ignorance of its populace.
dbestsport (2) about 9 months ago
What's your excuse.
black_sabathia (2) about 9 months ago
Far right wackos polluting the comment section again.
D_W (2) about 9 months ago
Looks like djhart thinks that campus politics are right down the middle. They're pretty toxic if you survey people in society who pay taxes rather than get paid by them.
DannyClarke (2) about 9 months ago
You ranked the U23 team from most likely to least likely... and have Mckee as the 6th most likely to medal even though he took 2nd last year... and some of the guys you predicted as more likely to place haven't even been on a age level world team yet.

So is this is an oversight or is 65kg absolutely stacked at the world level comapred to the other weights?
TooOld (1) about 9 months ago
Thank you for making a post that is a) sensible and b) about wrestling, so this comments section isn't a 100% politics rant-fest.
Keyser Soze83 (1) about 9 months ago
djhart, what makes you think republicans like putin or would have anything to do with him? Reagan was the one that helped bring and end the USSR and its the progressive left that would be jizzing in their shorts if the USA became a socialist/communist country. and it was obama that was caught on a hot mic talking to the russian ambassador....
Bill9879 (2) about 9 months ago
Keyser Soze83---you think Obama telling the PM of Russia that he has "More flexibility to negotiate after an election" is really that bad? He's being honest that there are certain things you can/can't do during an election. It is NOWHERE near as bad as what this REPUBLICAN traitor of a President has done on sooo many issues or in sooo many ways. Seriously? This Orange Cheeto of a president has not put "America First" in any sense of the phrase, he didn't show his tax returns in the beginning and is so secretive about it because it would show he takes money from oligarchs and/or Russian banks as he is such a crappy businessman that the main banks in the US won't borrow him due to his bankruptcies. It is obvious he is a frickin' liar like no other and he is going to go down as the most corrupt President of all time--look at all his crap policies. He's sympathetic towards NAZI'S for Christ's sake!!! His polices suck not just for the people of this country (trying to dismantle "Obamacare" instead of working to improve it is going to affect each and every one of us---assuming you or someone in your family may get sick again sometime) but he's such a f'ing moron he doesn't believe in climate change. Kowtowing to the coal industry instead of working on making our country the leader in renewable resources is such a brain dead line of thought it is a joke. He's going to ruin the economy with his tariff war if he keeps going....people that believe in him are either idiots or ignorant about issues. Actually believing his "fake news" comments every time he says it about the less than flattering stories makes him the next Mussolini. Grow up you Trumpsters....get a brain.
Brazil06 (1) about 9 months ago
@Andrewmah- you are using the argument that education is at the center of the liberal mindset as a knock on liberals ? Nothing more really needs to be said . By the way , part of that center means the ability to read and understand .... like in Foley’s article where he just makes a statement about colleges luring kids in with wrestling only to have them stack up debt they can’t afford . He never said that colleges were not overpriced or are not taking advantage of the public with their unsustainable rising costs and profits. You actually may have the same view. But....since Youre just like every other uneducated troll .. pandering to the uneducated masses , and waiting to twist words around so you can get on your soap box and spew your foulness , you can’t even see that there are not even conflicting view points between you and Foley . Awkward .
Jabr8319 (1) about 9 months ago
There is a 0% chance that limp-wristed "twink" Foley would call Tim Kennedy a wackadoodledoo to his face. Unfortunately, it's not surprising that this creep would get such delight from seeing a Cuban win against an American, let alone a decorated Veteran like Tim Kennedy.
Brazil06 (1) about 9 months ago
@mustang98- appreciate the almost objective comments . Again your arguments are filled with the propaganda of your biased view . Making a statement as broad as “modern colleges are not where the educated go, it’s where people go to get politicized “ has no merit or base . And the fact that there may be some that fit that description does not characterize all. And your point about women’s study again is another propaganda narrative . Using women’s studies to characterize a whole university , is like saying football is only about kicking accuracy because there’s one position that punts and kicks field goals . And the irony of you telling me to take a class to learn as you are arguing the irrelevance of education is pretty interesting . I don’t disagree that in today’s world , experience , emotional intelligence , work ethic are starting to play a stronger role in the workforce as college becomes les and less of an option due to rising costs . But nobody said otherwise , and certainly not in Foley’s article . In fact the only unbiased comments were in Foley’s article about universities . Andrewmah being a troll and trying to pick a political argument when there was none is the laughable reality here . And it’s blatantly obvious that he is the one wanting to bring in politics , not Foley , so self awareness is not really high . Or maybe that’s intentional, and hes just an angry guy that gets his kicks off being an agitator . You obviously share opinions , which is your right , but the arguments being made are using stereotypes driven by your feelings and not data . And using real data about teacher to student ratio to support your own theory that intelligent people don’t go to college because that piece of data is valid is a fallacy with no proof of connection . Like saying the sun going down is proof that pudding is bad bc the sun does go down . And you are welcome to take a logic class at your local university to understand how to debate with facts , or conversely , further your propaganda skills by learning how to make circular arguments , slippery slopes , and baseless accusations . Either way , the point is that Andrewmah is making an argument against an opinion that did not exist in Foley’s article, just so he could spout off.
1pattonr (1) about 9 months ago
If you insist on reading into the mailbags as political messages, just don't read them. Go to a political website and comment there. I come here to read about wrestling and wrestling comments to articles. Your energy for politics would be better used volunteering for your preferred political party or groups. I'm sure they'd appreciate it more too.
rizzo (1) about 9 months ago
AceStallion (1) about 9 months ago
Wow reading all these comments makes me feel like I'm on Sherdog.
1pattonr (1) about 9 months ago
You guys that come here and argue realize you look like whiny teenagers, right? Again, use you energy for real political change, not trolling.
Goofball (1) about 9 months ago
In regards to the South Carolina question/comment.
What is a Div 1 Women's wrestling team?

I didn't know the NCAA sanctioned women's wrestling.

Please explain.
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