InterMat senior writer T.R. Foley answers reader questions about NCAA wrestling, international wrestling, recruiting, or anything loosely related to wrestling. You have until Thursday night every week to send questions to Foley's Twitter or email account.
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The marquee matchup wasn't high scoring or even that entertaining, but last week's NWCA All-Star Classic managed to live up to its hype. From 125 pounds to heavyweight fans in the arena were treated to top level wrestling. The event that prompted national media attention and whipped our community into such a tizzy that it seemed every commenter during our live blog was suffering from minor heart palpitations. Like many of you with nothing better to do on a Saturday night I also placed a few friendly wagers on the meet. The monies were significant enough to leave Brian Muir and I yelping during each of Dake's mat returns. His double overtime win was sent straight to pay off my credit card.
You do have an assignment this week. In addition to sending in your questions for next week, I need to click this link to vote for ESPN's Greatest Combat Athlete of All Time. The category includes only five athletes, and two of them, Alexander Karelin and Dan Gable, are wrestlers. I won't tell you who to vote for, but I would ask that if you are interested in a wrestler winning you think about who most other American wrestlers would choose on the ballot. The three other names are Jon Jones (MMA), Anderson Silva (MMA) and Royce Gracie (Jui-Jitsu/MMA). Choose wisely.
Of course the biggest news of the day is the release of the new Bond movie, Skyfall. Watch the trailer and you'll say what I say on the event of every big release: promise you'll go on opening day then don't watch it until it's on HBO or Netflix. Shaken, not stirred.
Q: Your thoughts on greyshirting? It's becoming more and more common now Do you think it's a good thing or bad thing?
Foley: Many former wrestlers would tell you that if they had to do it all over again they'd do THIS and THAT differently. Some might do more squats, drill more, or choose to stand down when an entire fraternity challenges he a four of his teammates to a fistfight. With youth comes shitty decision-making.
I know that I pretty much sucked at life as an 18-year-old, especially when compared to the quasi-man I was at 22 years old. Had it not been for my fifth year I wouldn't have placed at NCAAs, but more importantly I wouldn't have had the time to get my grades up, earn another degree, and salvage what has been a lackluster academic performance in my first four years.
An extra year in college can make an enormous difference in a young man's life. The old fear as that spending too much time in college would turn our young men into lifetime fun addicts, the Tommy Boy generation who want to spend seven years in college drinking beer and doing drugs. Thankfully college has become too expensive for kids to simply hang out and take classes. IN and OUT is the new seven-year itch. Wrestlers who greyshirt don't have a huge advantage on the rest of the college wrestling crowd as much as they have an advantage on non-wrestlers.
Let 'em take the extra time. I don't think it'll ever become an epidemic even if it is at times abused. We need more mature college graduates, especially those who love wrestling enough to endure it for an extra season.
Q: What do you think of the UFC in China?
-- Mark B.
Foley: I recently appeared as a guest on Sirius XM's Fight Club Radio to talk about the event and some of the issues the UFC will face in China. Take a listen, but it boils down to finding adequate in-country distribution, recruiting ethnically palatable fighters (Han), and learning how to do business in China. They've already made steps in all these areas, especially in how to do business in China. The UFC hired Mark Fischer, the man who brought NBA to Asia fifteen years ago, as their point man.
My biggest disappointment has come from reading the media report on China. I know that I have a unique set of experiences wrestling in China and Mongolia for almost four months last year, but it's unbelievable to me the amount of ignorance being spewed by mainstream media, to say nothing of the sport's omnipresent basement bloggers. I'd link them but don't want to give them the extra page views. In short:
Not super related, but we did change the presentation of K. Undrakhbayar's name in our rankings to the more familiar patronymic structure. The first letter represents his father's name and leaves his name as the stand-alone. If you cheer for him at NCAAs, and it looks like you will after he beat No. 9 Zach Neibert last week at the Hokie open, just can just call him "Ugi."
Q: Unfortunately, I am underway at the moment and couldn't stream the All-Star video - bandwidth for 3,000 of my closest friends on a ship is not so great. I will be pulling into a foreign port relatively soon so I hope something is still up and we the Internet to support it. I was able to get onto InterMat's live blog, which was the next best thing; it was awesome for guys in my situation! Big thank you to you guys!
Do you think Dake did just enough to win, lucky even? Seemed to me like Taylor was the aggressor; do you think Dake should have gotten hit for a second stalling call? Who got the most out of this match?
-- Kelin F.
Foley: Thanks for reading. We had an impressive number of readers following along and though we had some trouble keeping a few knuckleheads from posting inappropriate or annoying commentary we were pleased to deliver our readers the action in real time.
As for THE MATCH, I don't think Dake was passive enough to get dinged with another stall call. When the momentum shifted and it was obvious Dake would play defense on his feet in the second overtime he took a shot that -- though half-spirited -- eliminated the stall call. Point protection isn't a bad thing and though he was blocking off Taylor's offense, it wasn't yet a true stall. Just my opinion, though I see how it might have been called in the NCAA finals.
After the event Dake talked about the match and said that they both had stayed in good position which limited their offensive opportunities. I thought Dake looked a little nervous and that Taylor was more comfortable through the match, changing levels and finding holes with which to attacks. But ultimately neither could break out and create more than the one scramble for offensive control.
Overall, I think Taylor comes out with some momentum. He was stunned by Dake's flurry, but he seemed more confident after this match than he did after the Olympic Trials. I'd have to talk to Muir but I think if they meet at the Southern Scuffle the line will be a pick 'em.
We should also take a moment to remember that Tyler Caldwell of Oklahoma State will also be wrestling for the crown this season.
Q: My feed didn't work and cancelling my Flo subscription is a pain in the ass.
-- Eric H.
Foley: Many of you guys wrote in to ask to me to comment on the live feed. Muir and I streamed it at my apartment, drank beer, ate skirt steak and had a good time with the feed. The lighting was bad, but I thought announcer Ian McCutcheon did an excellent job describing the action. As for the color commentary, I subscribe to the Joe Rogan School of Commentary that states the second announcer should bring the technical ruckus and choose his moments wisely. Get excited, but don't yell. (Rule No. 3 would be to where a dark button-up shirt sponsored by Affliction.)
The other issue you emailed about was cancellation. I can only go by the emails forwarded to me and looking through those I agree that the process seems frustrating, and a little irritating especially when asked to re-send portions of your credit card number via email. I'm sure Martin and the crew will get around to the job this month, though it's surprising there wasn't a better system in place. I know that they wanted to roll out some new series right after the match and were hoping people would stay. Maybe delaying cancellation extends that opportunity.
Streaming is getting better and less expensive, which means several more companies will be making the move into NCAA wrestling. I'm not sure they'd ever do wrestling, but the best stream in combat sports is Budo Videos (apologies to USA Wrestling who also does a killer job). On the Sunday following the All-Star Classic, Budo offered a simultaneous nine camera feed of the IBJJF No-Gi World Championships. The video quality on all mats had an option for HD, and there was one mat that had "featured commentary" from two funny and informed hosts. The cost was $10.95, which I paid in the form of a one-time PayPal fee and allowed me to watch the feed for more than six hours. I never had any issues and loved the content, so I was floored the next morning when they sent me an email giving me access to any of the matches I wanted to see again! Videos I'd paid to watch yesterday available to me the next day and forever more. That is an INCREDIBLE learning tool and certified to me that I'd made an intelligent investment.
Wrestling can get there soon. Competition will dictate an improvement in services and a more open pay structure. And despite some major bumps, Flo is helping us get to a point where eventually we can enjoy wrestling in the types of feeds that Budo creates.
Q: It's funny how I am using my scholarship checks from OSU to pay for my student loans from OU.
Foley: These gems are why you need to be on Twitter.
Q: How many of the teams in D1 had an NCAA qualifier last year? Do you think there is more parity in D1 now or 10 years ago? Do you think more parity would be a good thing for wrestling?
-- Tom B.
College wrestling seems to be trending towards parity, but it's tough to know how deep that parity extends without going through the past fifteen years and counting how many programs existed, and then seeing how many had NCAA qualifiers, All-Americans and champions.
Here is a list of the teams that have placed in the top four since 2002 along with how many times. (Please excuse if I'm incorrect about your team. It's an honest mistake, but my glasses are broken and I am getting old.)
(5) Oklahoma State
(3) Penn State
There have been 44 trophies handed out to 14 teams over the past 11 years with an average pool size of 82 teams. Pure parity would mean that each team would earn a trophy once every six years. However, only 14 have which means that 68 teams haven't. Not great parity, but comparable at a glance to many professional sports.
Havre de Grace for $10 million. Unreal. I ask you: Which wrestler would earn the highest bid for studding?
Q: With all the Dake/Taylor talk Matt McDonough seems to be flying under the radar, even though he is looking to be a three-time champ and four-time finalist, something that's been done all of three times (excluding Cael and Pat Smith). Where do you put him in the pantheon of greatest lightweights ever alongside Brands, Davis, Guerrero and Abas, as well as anyone else I've forgotten? It's mostly that we have possibly the greatest lightweight to ever wrestle who is going totally unnoticed. Your thoughts?
-- Joseph N.
Foley: You are completely correct. It's kinda bullshit that we stopped talking about McDonough when the Dake vs. Taylor match bubbled up. McD is already an NCAA and Iowa wresting legend, and I fully expect that he'll become a three-time NCAA champion this season. I'll do my part to make sure we recognize him a little more this season. Unfortunately for Iowa wrestling fans, the sport's two biggest stars in the same weight and wrestling for East Coast teams make it tough for McD to get the recognition he deserves.
Q: As I read the write-up about the PSU intrasquad meet, I noticed that Andrew Alton did not compete at 149 pounds, or at all for that matter. Why was that? Was it because he was with his twin brother, Dylan, at the NWCA All-Star Classic? Or because he is already a lock at that weight? If so, why did other locks such as Ruth and Matt Brown wrestle? Also related to the PSU intrasquad meet write-up: Gullibon was noted to be "probably" redshirting. Does this make sense given the fact that he could likely be the best chance at points each dual and tournament for the team? Think of what his teammate at 125 did last year as a true freshman. Thoughts?
-- Ryan P.
Foley: Don't fret. Andrew Alton was just nursing a minor injury. He'll be ready to go for the Big Ten season.
I emailed with Cael a few weeks ago regarding Gulibon. He thinks he should take a year to redshirt, and I tend to agree with his decisions. Megaludis is a freak and had an incredible NCAA tournament, but what made him appealing last year was a lack of any viable options at 125 pounds. From what I understand there are people in Happy Valley that think Jordan Conaway or Frank Martellotti could wrestle themselves into the NCAA tournament. Would Gulibon definitely be a big improvement? I guess they'd rather just wait a year and get him stronger.