Foley's Friday Mailbag: June 14, 2019

I like to write about wrestling, but I also like to talk about wrestling! Check out my appearance with Andy Hamilton and Kyle Klingman on their podcast "On the Mat."

The details are in the conversation, but it's the best I can do to fully explain the issues I have with the effort to overturn the wrestling results from Final X. I'm leaning on my experience in international wrestling, familiarity with similar situations, and conversations with international referees, officials, and wrestlers. You don't have to agree, but I think that there is some insight I might be able to provide some fans who may not get to watch as much freestyle as folkstyle.

As I've been asked to comment on in recent days, the interpretation being brought forth is a misleading interpretation of a supporting guideline for a rule that has been generally well followed for the past six seasons. That's not to say I don't understand the disappointment felt by the losing wrestler's fan base, but it's critical to the future of the sport that we try to limit our sport heading to the courtroom every time a call doesn't go in "our" favor.

We don't want to be passionate about a sport whose final calls are made by someone wearing a robe, instead of stripes.

To your questions …

Kamal Bey throws Pat Smith at Final X: Rutgers (Photo/Tony Rotundo,

Q: Why hasn't Kamal Bey developed as quickly as many expected after his Junior world title run in 2017? He's still young at age 21. Do you see world medals in his future?
-- Mike C.

Foley: I do. Kamal is the man, but there is a competitive issue that he's yet to overcome. As you said, he's only 21 years old so learning how to win might not come right now. His strength will also need to improve, as well as his tactics and gamesmanship.

There is little doubt that Kamal will be in the Olympic Team Trials finals for Tokyo 2020. Let's hope that he continues to make strides and learns from the setback of not making this year's team.

Q: I wanted to hear how you felt about the extra years being granted to college wrestlers? I struggle to understand that with a fifth year already included in the standard eligibility to account for injury they are granting one or more years to wrestlers to continue their college experience. Your thoughts?
-- Chris L.

Foley: The fifth year is more considered a year of active participation to allow for a variety of non-athletic adjustments to take place. Also, the year is meant to let some athletes not burn eligibility sitting behind better athletes. The life cycle of a program is also then protected from sudden departures when backups are in riskless reserve.

The sixth year is only possible if your injury occurred after the completion of your redshirt year (a year you couldn't recoup). For instance, I was injured as a sophomore and that year ended up needing to be used as my redshirt. Had I been injured again after that year it's possible that they might allow another season.

Overall, the NCAA has taken a much more lenient approach regarding the free movement and long-term participation of athletes. The sixth year and the extension of the transfer portal has put much more power in the hands of the athletes.

Q: Does the return of both Anthony Cassar and Shakur Rasheed make Penn State the preseason No 1? Go Lions.
-- Mike Z.

Foley: Haha. "Go Lions" is certain to make you look biased! Adding an NCAA champion and All-American will move up any team in the preseason polls. I'll take Iowa as the preseason No. 1, but please feel free to mock me in the comments.

Q: When is the last time USA has won a freestyle world medal at 65/66 kilograms? Seems like a lot of people have been excited about America's hopes for the weight class, but it feels like it has been USA's weakest freestyle weight class for years. Zain, Yianni and some others had some Cadet success on the world level, but that doesn't always translate to Senior level success.
-- Mike C.

Foley: Logan Stieber won a world championship at 61 kilograms and James Green is a world medalist at 70 kilograms, which seems to indicate that the USA has the talent in between, but just hasn't keyed all the way in.

As you mentioned, Zain and Yianni are top-level competitors and have proven their worth by beating top names. I'd predict that Zain will place in Nur-Sultan, depending a bit on his draw and when he runs into his toughest opponents. Whoever wins the spot for the 2020 Games will likely be an instant medal contender.

Of course, nothing is guaranteed, but I think that this weight class "drought" is probably coming to an end in the next few months, and as you look further down the line with Joey McKenna, Jaydin Eierman, and the Cadets/Juniors it's likely getting stronger.

Q: With it being an Olympic year next year, will there be a Beat the Streets event? It would have to be after the Olympic Team Trials, right?
-- Mike C.

Foley: There will be both a Beat the Streets NY event and a Beat the Streets LA event! I'm not clear on precisely how they will be managed, or what angle they will be promoting, but I can confirm that they will be after the Olympic Team Trials.

We should make a national push to have Daniel Cormier wrestle at Beat the Streets. A recruitment effort to have him go full pro wrestling for his entry, but have an abbreviated 2-2 match with Brock Lesnar. Could be a great way to raise funds for the kids!

As for LA, I think they have a (very good) theme in place!

Fresh Idea of the Week
By Dan C.

I have seen a lot of strife about sixth years granted, plus strife about fifth/sixth-year guys transferring. It seems to cause resentment towards the wrestler and makes schools seem powerless. Lots of people agree with you about college sports being a business (especially if you were part of college sports and understand/took the compliance test). Why don't we do away with transfers and call them trades when done within NCAA Division I. Players can request trades and schools can initiate them. It provides equal leverage for the student and the school. And this is probably being done, to some extent, in practice.

Pros for school:

1. Can relinquish scholarship to be picked up by another school. If the other school can't pay the full scholarship, the original school has to pay the "delta" of the compensation. Happens less in wrestling because it seems like the big money goes to top 10 recruits, 125-pounders, 133-pounders, and true heavyweights.

2. School has power to initiate, even at the request of the player.

3. Instead of being cut/suspended (think Minnesota/Chance Marsteller), the team can trade the student to another school willing to take on a leadership challenge.

Pros for student:

1. Student can initiate. Sometimes coaching staffs will think "I wish this guy would come to us for a transfer. But he keeps coming to practice on time and works hard. He just didn't pan out." Now a student has flexibility.

2. Student can sell themselves to other schools and in best cases have the coaching staff back them up for the best deal. The athletic department can finalize the deal and legalities.

Pros for everybody:

Transfers benefit more than one school. Less NCAA (government) involvement. More CEO/GM decisions as a coach. Trade a backup 133-pounder for a backup 157-pounder. They are favorites to start and they fill holes.

Cons for some:

1. Wouldn't affect Ivies because they don't redshirt (they prep like academies). Lots of fifth-year Ivy guys transfer to non-Ivy to get masters studies. Academies don't keep people for more than four years. However, Ivies and academies actually work by self-imposed limitations and have worked well to offset those disadvantages by prepping and seemingly unlimited scholarships (academies) and aid (Ivies). If someone is a great wrestler and qualifies for aid, you bet Ivies are swarming in.

2. It will give the appearance that college sports are becoming less pure and innocent. Those days are long gone. This would just add transparency and a free market.

3. Makes trades easier, so it invites the possibility of a student requesting a trade at the first sign of adversity.

4. We could have a "free agent" fiasco when a recruit places top four at NCAAs who only gets "books and meals" for scholarship. But this happens with great employees at organizations where upward movement is tough due to the timeline of people already in higher positions. They go to a new organization with vacancies at positions of higher echelon and responsibility.


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bdhof (1) about a month ago
To answer Mike C's question, Bill Zadick, current coach of the USA freestyle team, won a gold in 2006, and is the last medalist at that weight for Team USA.
NJDan1 (1) about a month ago
I always look forward to your Mailbag, but this week is such a disappointment. You claim experience-- " I'm leaning on my experience in international wrestling-- and you allude to sources who you do not identify, much less name. But you give no reason for rejecting Yianni's legitimate challenge. You say, "I think that there is some insight I might be able to provide," but you provide no insight. Finally you portray basic misunderstanding by saying the matter should not be resolved in the "courtroom." Rob Koll said he was appealing to USAW or maybe the USOC. Neither body is a court. Both are sporting authorities.

I have followed the commentary on message boards, posted by amateurs. You are a professional. But your comment is among the weakest I have seen.
djhart69 (1) about a month ago
The redshirting rules are stupid, for years I've sugested they just give everyone 5 years to compete. For your average student 5 years is more the norm for getting a Bachelor's Degree right? The 4 year thing is way outdated. You'd see all of the best true freshman competing in duals and the post season and they would still have 4 more years. If you miss a season or 2 because of injury, tough luck, no redshirts. You get 5 years, period.
djhart69 (1) about a month ago
NJDan1 he's saying the details are in the conversation. He's saying to listen to the On The Mat podcast.
NJDan1 (1) about a month ago
DJHart, that's no excuse. He is writing a column. He should offer a coherent thought, not say he has expressed it elsewhere. He has space. I am also not inclined to seek out more of his views if he can't be bothered to offer them here.
cellinisubs (1) about a month ago
I totally agree with NJDan 1. Foley's comments on the Podcast were rambling and imprecise. Journalists who put forth editorials should have the courage to forcefully state an opinion. Foley was too wishy washy. We should expect more from an expert. Foley sounded like he may have been recovering from the brown bottle flu.
dbestsport (1) about a month ago
I agree with your opinion regarding the additional time the NCAA is affording to injured athletes, "The sixth year and the extension of the transfer portal has put much more power in the hands of the athletes."
It baffles me that anyone who is a fan of amateur athletics would be critical of the new rules.
Clearly there are some Penn State haters who are upset that it is benefiting them. But I didn't hear the same criticism when Lugo and DeSanto transferred to Iowa, and Kemerer was given an additional year due to injury.
But there were plenty of complaints when the NCAA made Metcalf (and other Iowa wrestlers) miss a year due to their transfers.
Any NCAA rules that benefit the student athlete should be praised as positive.
'Nuff Said!
Some posts have addressed the
UsedToBe103 (1) about a month ago
You said the following regarding Kamal: "His strength will also need to improve, as well as his tactics and gamesmanship." After watching all three matches I'd say that his conditioning needs to improve at least as much as the other attributes you mentioned.
Paboy593 (1) about a month ago
CARY KOLAT!!! CARY KOLAT!!!! that's all that needs to be said about taking decisions to the courtroom. Kolat was hosed many times. So should fix sue Rutgers for a headgear pull?? [Ncaa not Rutgers but u get my point] when u lose a tough decision its hard to handle but we have been handling them for decades. That call wasn't that egregious. *side note I'm a huge Zain fan to be fair
Jim t (1) about a month ago
We don’t want to be passionate about the sport whose final call is made by a person wearing a robe rather than stripes.

Really?? Do we want to be passionate about a sport whose writer “condemns the officiating” involving
D Taylor and J Cox. Us white privileged people have no problem burying and discrediting an official when
J Cox fought through an injury to take out your man D T.
Giving no concern that while shaming the officiating the writer was also discrediting the win of a wrestler of color??

Maybe it is a good idea a judge does decide these things Foley I mean really which is worse?
GMen (1) about a month ago
NJDan1 - Your the amateur for saying you follow the commentary but never comment. Just the fact you are saying you are an authority on what metrics determine a professional in the field of journalism, when you have never engaged, shows your ineptitude. Before you try to make bold pronouncements, while merely giving generic criticisms on mediocre points, try putting forth a coherent argument yourself.
Yes Man (1) about a month ago
Daniel Cormier would be great for Beat The Streets. However, Brock Lesnar is so yesteryear. Don't think we should mess with AARP guys and risk an elder abuse charge. Think Daniel Cormier should be paired with stunt wrestler Ben Askren if this year's scabs have healed.
johnmac47 (1) about a month ago
WE ARE PENN STATE! I certainly didn't want anyone to be disappointed! Oh and it will not even be close!