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Foley's Friday Mailbag: March 8, 2019

The NCAA conference tournaments are this weekend with 286 of the 330 NCAA qualifiers being allocated by the outcome of those tournaments. The remaining 44 will be divvied out next week based on the total number of allocations in each weight class to balance each out for a total of 33.

The qualification system hasn't always been this neat. In the past 10-15 years the NCAA has implemented several changes, the first being a move away from what was known as "historical data" based on the previous 1, 2, and 5-year performances of each conference.The system was wildly unfair and limited the growth of smaller conferences who couldn't attract wrestlers (or coaches) based on the inability to directly control one's destiny.

Not only that, but the conferences were allowed to choose wild cards based on who they believed would help them most at the NCAA tournament. That motivation led to a lot of backroom dealing and horse trading, none of which was transparent or healthy for the sport.Careers were lost to a very bad system.

But there was change, which shows that as cumbersome an operation the NCAA leads, the push for improvements from the outside can sometimes come to pass. There is still no NCAA dual meet national championship, but there is a process and there is interest. The NCAA has the ability to make it happen.

Good luck to all the athletes competing this weekend for a ticket to nationals and a chance to call themselves conference champion. Safe travels as well to the families, fans, coaches, and athletes who are trekking far and wide to see their favorite wrestlers step on the mat.

To your questions …

Q: Biggest upset you see at a conference tournament this weekend? I'm calling Shakur Rasheed over Myles Martin at the Big Ten Championships, although it's hard to call it a huge upset when Rasheed is ranked second in the nation and undefeated.
-- Mike C.


Foley: No way. Myles Martin won't be upset by Shakur Rasheed or anyone else. And good catch. It wouldn't really be a huge upset.

Virginia's Louie Hayes is pre-seeded No. 5 at the ACC Championships at 133 pounds (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)

I'm going with the 'Hoos. Louie Hayes to make the 133-pound finals at the ACC Championships and claim the gold medal.

Q: When will tickets for the 2020 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in Minneapolis go on sale?
-- Tom G.


Foley: They tend to go on sale before, or just following, the final session of the previous year's NCAA Championships. The event will be hosted at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, so I'm assuming more than 20K tickets will be available, but there will be somewhat less than the maximum capacity of 66K-plus.

Wouldn't it be interesting if the NCAA and the stadium worked hard to try and set the Guinness Book of World Records for most fans to watch a (non-football/basketball) intercollegiate athletic event? Or, even just the record for wrestling?

Q: How does the future of freestyle wrestling benefit from seeing elite guys take hard half shots and run guys off the mat? Casual sports fans recognize dominance when they see it. It's hard to get excited by pushing guys around. It's why sumo wrestling has never caught on worldwide. Do we need to see more creativity in the rules? Limited number of pushout points awarded? DQs for getting pushed out too much? OT if there are no TDs, nor turns in regulation?
-- Jared H.


Foley: I appreciate this aggressive hot take about freestyle wrestling and there being too many "hard half shots!" As you may know I watch a lot of freestyle wrestling, and it has never occurred to me that many of these athletes are simply pushing anyone around. Greco-Roman? Maybe. Freestyle? Too dynamic for a pushout-only system of success.

To wit, when I have seen athletes push the action to the edge of the mat, it's often because their opponent is stalling and thus should lose a point or decide to fight back to the center. In many of the matches I watch, athletes who push too hard often get head snapped into short offense, head pinched for four, or put themselves at an equal risk for going out of bounds.

Sorry! Love a hot take, but the numbers also don't support the sumo thesis. Offensive scoring is way up over the past few years and has continued to climb. Long explanation shortened for a busy mailbag: Freestyle rules won't change anytime in the foreseeable future and that's because they are David Hasselhoff types of rad.

Also … sumo is INSANELY POPULAR in Japan and the fact you used it as an example means it did succeed in becoming a worldwide phenomenon!

Q: Can you think of any reason not to move the NCAA wrestling season back a month? It would still fall in the spring semester and we could have our own stage rather than trying to compete with the NCAA basketball tournament.
-- Matt B.


Foley: No, I don't see any reason not to move the season. Make it a one-semester sport. Start in January and end in late April. Logical, profitable and better for the student-athletes. The only reason it won't be slotted that way is there are still too many stakeholders who profit from the current calendar and don't want to risk the change. Same for why there is no NCAA-sanctioned dual meet national championship.

Q: With the conference championships set to start soon, and the NCAAs right behind them, who are your all-time individual greats, at each individual weight, 125 pounds through heavyweight? I know some weight classes aren't around anymore, so please use your artistic creativity for the likes of Dan Gable and company in slotting them if necessary. Thanks. I'm looking forward to seeing what roster you come up, with of all-time greats at each weight class. Semper Fi!
-- Rick B.


Foley:
125: Stephen Abas (Fresno State)
133: Eric Guerrero (Oklahoma State)
141: Logan Stieber (Ohio State)
149: Zain Retherford (Penn State)
157: Pat Smith (Oklahoma State)
165: Joe Williams (Iowa)
174: Chris Pendleton (Oklahoma State)
184: Cael Sanderson (Iowa State)
197: J'den Cox (Missouri)
285: Kyle Snyder (Ohio State)
DH: Kyle Dake (Cornell)

MULTIMEDIA HALFTIME

Here are some of the first videos coming from our recent production in India. Hope you enjoy and find them informative!

Sakshi Malik is a massive star in India. Find out why!

Hanuman is considered the god most closely associated with wrestling. Check out this short piece on Lord Hanuman and Bajrang Punia.

All the action from the Dan Kolov is right here.

Q: That stoppage in the Robbie-Lawler Ben Askren fight was bullshit. Hard not to like Lawler. Did you see his reaction after the fight was stopped? Do you think there will be a rematch? If not, where does each go from here?
-- Mike C.


Foley: I remember rolling with a very average (maybe below average) blue belt just after I received my purple belt in 2013 (or so). This kid was a total spaz and I was trying to play nice, but at some point I went in on a shot and turned the corner, but instead of sprawling or whizzering he put me in a schoolyard headlock like what you saw last Saturday from Ben Askren. I reacted the wrong way and there it was, I was being Bulldog choked to death. I'd never seen the move, much less felt it applied, and I'd certainly never learned the counter.

Askren had a tight grip and from what I could see of the angle and pressure, there really wasn't a solid out for Lawler, except maybe getting his left shoulder back in front of Ben's belly and turning his chin in. To do that I think Lawler would have to his feet to the cage and/or closer to Ben's.

Either way he was stuck and in a lot of pain. I don't believe he was out, but I also saw that arm go limpish for a second so I see both sides. Super-dumb position to end up in, but that's what Ben does, he puts you into positions that he knows and he knows you don't know.

No rematch. They'll move Ben onto Darren Till, who is just as heavy a striker as Lawler, but has questionable wrestling. We'll see!

Q: What do you make of the recent rise in showboating/dance celebration after winning? Chandler Rogers' dance after Iowa I thought was a joke. Another I saw from Wisconsin. They don't allow this in football. There is a difference between being fired up for a big win, and that. Did you see the video of Wisconsin after the Ben Askren win that was posted on their RTC twitter page? I was absolutely shocked that someone, sounds like a kid who taped it, would post a video where "f$&k yeah" is clearly screamed (by my count) four times. And post it on the RTC page. Some college administrators have taken control of the social media pages if the schools name is attached, and after seeing this, who can blame them? I guess it all comes down to the coach in the end. My dad had a saying, "What you permit, you promote."
-- John G.


Foley: First, this question is basically The Simpsons' "OLD MAN YELLS AT CLOUD" GIF.


However, I agree that the dancing should be moderated to maybe not include the crotch thrusting and chopping towards the groin. I don't like singlets as it is and sexualizing the sport, or your dance while in a singlet, seems crude.

The Badger RTC coach is Ben Askren so I can see why these guys were so excited. You probably went to college and remember what it was like to be in a room during some type of large scale celebration. Everyone tries to make more noise than the other guy, or look funnier. Just part of the game. Few curse words don't really get to me all that much.

Man, you are bah-humbuggin' Wisconsin. Can't oblige that much hate. Also, little known fact, Milwaukee is the city of my birth.

Overall, let the kids dance as they wish so long as it's not in the face of their opponent. The sport should be fun, but it should also remain respectful. That line is always shifting, which leaves it up to interpretation by each fan, coach and athlete, but in general "be cool, man."

Q: This weekend in Virginia: NCAA Division III Championships, ACC Championships, EWL Championships and MAC Championships. If champions in each of those events formed a team and entered a dual meet tournament, what would the top four team finishes be?
-- Mike C.


Foley:
1. ACC
2. MAC
3. NCAA Division III
4. EWL

Q: Thoughts on EWL teams joining the MAC?
-- Mike C.


Foley: While there is a lot of talk around the size of the new MAC (15 programs), my biggest want for this merger is to help generate more interest in the PSAC programs that haven't garnered as much attention as they deserve. The size of the conference should mean that a profitable mixture of TV markets could draw some good dollars for streaming and other deals. Missouri, Central Michigan, Lock Haven, Cleveland State, and the other 11 schools will enjoy increased national exposure and the smaller schools will now have an opportunity to have consistent high-level competition.

Good move.

Q: How does USA Wrestling decide which wrestlers are sent abroad to compete in a Ranking Series Tournament? Why weren't Kyle Dake and David Taylor entered in the Dan Kolov tournament?
-- JVM


Foley: National team members are given the right of first refusal from starter down to the No. 3 on the ladder. Individuals who are hurt, committed elsewhere, or simply don't want to compete are not bound by any rules to attend these tournaments.

After checking with the national team, the USA Wrestling coaching staff decides who else to bring, though their decision-making tree isn't known to me.

Not sure about Dake or Taylor. Remember that there are still two more Ranking Series tournaments, continentals, and Final X matches to consider in the very near future.

Q: Seth Gross is in the transfer portal. Where do you think he ends up? I'm predicting Wisconsin (Coach Bono) or Minnesota (home state, brother will be at Augsburg), but wondering if you have heard any rumblings?
-- Mike C.


Foley: See Daniel Cormier's tweet below.

Comments

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zipman (1) about 5 months ago
Division III champs over EWL champs??...come on...
jmantom (1) about 5 months ago
Tickets for next year go on sale Wednesday the 19th at 9am.
jmantom (2) about 5 months ago
Sorry, Wednesday the 20th.
Tgreene (1) about 5 months ago
Thanks jmantom!
mzendars (1) about 5 months ago
WHEN WE LOOK BACK FIVE YEARS FROM NOW IT MAY BE BO OVER COX
dbestsport (1) about 5 months ago
I finally agree with Foley. Last week he praised golf for changing rules to promote the sport and this week finally he praises NCAA Wrestling for doing the same.
Rules changes over the years has created a viable and popular product.
I attended the championships in 1975. They were held at Jadwin Gym on the Princeton Campus. Seating capacity, 6,854.
Next year they will be at U.S. Bank Stadium. Capacity, 66,655. That is clearly evidence that our sport, like Golf, is making the changes necessary to keep it alive and well. But how many of you want to see "The Masters" Golf tournament use the same rules as the "World Cup"?
This weekend we will all enjoy the greatest format for wrestling, the Tournament.
footestomper (2) about 5 months ago
dbestsport: I was also at Jadwin Gym in 1975 and saw John Fritz win a National Championship!
Jim t (1) about 5 months ago
Foley your 149 pick? Everybody’s 149 pick? Really?
The only full match between Zane and Logan is when Zane beat Logan. I am quite certain he “dominated “ Zane at the
Big Tens and The Big Dance. What did Logan have 2, 3 maybe 4 minutes of riding time in those matches. Can you tell us where we could get full video of either of those matches?
If no why would that be? Nobody wants to see
Captain America get hammered by Logan maybe????
Did he get a takedown at the end of a match or.. I’m not sure he got takedown at all other the one late in the match at Penn St. either
Foley Dustin Schlatter lost 1 match his true freshman year. Zack Espo was the defending national champ and in the finals the year before and we all know how good he was. . Schlatters true freshman year he took Espo out 8-7 at the national duals and dominated him putting him on his back n nearly getting the pin at Okie St. following ncaas injured he takes third losing to Gillespie who ran off the mat like 50 times. Schlatter’s jr year enter Brett Metcalf throw in Lance Palmer a junior and there is a kid named Darion Caldwell and who was that other kid.... He was from Nebraska... Oh yea
JORDAN BURROUGHS How could I forget him? How good was Palmer well he stuck Schlatter at Minnesota I was center mat saw it with my own 2 eyes. Schlatter wasn’t healthy but in that position it wouldn’t have mattered. Palmer nearly pinned Metcalf in the Big 10’s the following year putting him on his back the end of the third for the win. How good was Caldwell he went through Dustin Schlatter on his way to Brent metcalf to win his ncaa crown. How good was Burroughs.. average I would say.
Mr. Foley aside from Logan did Captain America face an app that could compete on the level of ANY of these guys.
Has to be Metcalf “like him or NOT”. Politics I say.
seeyajohn2 (2) about 5 months ago
Zain never lost a match at 149.
Chrisdut (1) about 5 months ago
If you compare their 149 pound results, Metcalf had three losses in three years of starting action (he lost a year of eligibility when transferring from VA Tech), two national championships and one Hodge Trophy....Retherford had zero losses at 149 over three years, three national championships and was the most dominant wrestler in the nation those three years but only won two Hodge Trophies (Alex Deringer was awarded a trophy during his senior year even tho Zain was the most dominant)...Zain did lose to Logan when Logan was a junior and Zain was a true freshman, but Zain also beat him as a true freshman....Zain definitely earned the spot at 149
Yes Man (1) about 5 months ago
RE: Ben Askren UFC debut
Comments on YouTube indicate Ben gained fans by getting beat up & rebounding to submit Lawler. There's a good explanation of the end of the fight by the GraceBreakdown on YouTube: www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4-fBRkyxJw&feature=youtu.be
trescuit11 (2) about 5 months ago
my prediction:
UVA gets last place in ACC tourney and Louie Hayes gets 5th. Foley cries while wearing combat shorts and telling people that he has a purple belt in BJJ
Jim t (1) about 5 months ago
Chrisdut Zane should have went undefeated he didn’t wrestle Anyone his sophomore junior or senior year. If your looking for hardware to determine a better wrestler you completely negate the strength of schedule. Zane is s great kid Captain America no doubt but who did he even wrestle his sophomore-junior-senior year. I honestly can’t remember any of there names. I know he went ot with some okie state kid, and another time to that kid from Iowa but those guy were not in the league of any of the aforementioned were they? Any of them have an NCAA title? Burroughs 2 Schlatter 1, Caldwell 1, Palmer 2nd. Keep in mind Zane lost to that fighting Scott his freshman year as well. Funny don’t remember his name either.
Good thing that kid from John Bosco went into mma Zane wouldn’t have any titles. Remember he got worked, techeted I think. What was his name?? It was after Zane’s Freshman year.
dbestsport (2) about 5 months ago
You need to check you facts. None of the guys you mentioned had NCAA titles when they wrestled Metcalf. None of them.
Just because they went on to win titles doesn't mean they were NCAA champ caliber when they wrestled Metcalf.
Sorensen was a 4X AA who was also a finalist. He could never beat Zane. Palmer figured Metcalf out and beat him 9-2 to win a Big 10 crown.
Zane on the other hand beat Steiber who was already a 2X champ. And for the record, if Ashnault of Micah Jordan win a title this year - according to your logic - he will have wins over another NCAA champ.
I am sure it is disappointing when facts ruin a good story.