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.
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)
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.
3. NCAA Division III
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.
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?
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.
This dude is going to Wisconsin, don't waste ur time! https://t.co/b7MoLBPp7r�" Daniel Cormier (@dc_mma) March 6, 2019