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, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
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.