Foley's Friday Mailbag: April 4, 2014

By most accounts ESPN's coverage of the 2014 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships was the best-produced wrestling event in the history of the sport. Better than the 2014 World Cup, better than the 2013 NCAA Championships, better than the Big Ten Championships (even a touch better than Iowa Public Television's college wrestling events circa 1993). It was a major success for ESPN and wrestling fans around the world.

Tim Johnson and Adam Amin were on the call for ESPN during the finals of the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships
The internal metrics and social media feedback seem to support that otherwise subjective claim. According to ESPN, viewership of the championships jumped an incredible 39 percent from 2013 to 2014 and the feedback from fans at home varied from signing online letters of thanks to ESPN to what were solemn head nods of acknowledgement.

For a moment it seemed like the wrestling community felt something like contentment.

The veneer of universal gratitude was cracked on March 28 when Flowrestling's PR guy Nick Velliquette wrote an article that ran counter to the popular belief that ESPN had done a commendable job covering the NCAA Championships. The article was titled, "ESPN: The Worldwide Leader in Sports? Not in Wrestling ..."

Writing contrarian articles is essential in journalism, and when done well can create vital discussion about commonly held beliefs. However, when poorly done the contrarian article often works to highlight the shortcomings of the author and, when applicable, supporting organization. When the author shoots aimlessly from uncertain ground the result can often be a self-inflicted wound.

From his perch at Flo, Velliquette took aim at the NCAA's production value with vacuous, unsubstantiated claims that the media giant lacked "excitement" and that during the course of their 30-plus hours of programming there were -- shock! -- some mistakes. Too dry, too bland, too un-Flo.

The article was panned in social media as being poorly written, nitpicky and just flat wrongheaded. But what the article -- and discussion surrounding the article -- really exposed was the growing frustration with the "bro culture" and growing disconnect between Flowrestling and their audience. The assault on ESPN came across more like the petulant tirade of the beauty pageant's first runner-up than it did an informative look at improving the coverage of our sport.

What Velliquette's article wanted to achieve was to earn a few extra clicks for Flo and to possibly move the media company into the "Hot Take!" business. Flo wants to be known as "wrestling" and the success of ESPN showed the fallibility of that claim, ostensibly prompting the site's response.

Velliquette and Flo have overestimated their role as the video production leader or thought leader in the sport of wrestling. Their entry into the national conversation suffered a mighty thud this week and seemed to betray an institutionalized Icarus complex, suffering from a fatal hubris that led them to address the wrestling community in a wanton and disrespectful manner.

Five years ago Flo's anti-authoritarian, anti-intellectualism landed with wrestling fans because they were rebelling against an often-static media landscape. Fans of the sport were willing to forgive the headbands, chewing tobacco and breathless screaming because the employees hustled to create content. They loved the sport and let it show.

But now that original wrestling-focused altruism has been replaced by feckless website management and an altogether disdain for spellcheck. Where at first there was a small army of volunteers providing shaky handycam footage of coaches talking hi-crotch crackdown defense, five years later there is a double premium service that provides mediocre quality videos (in comparison to ESPN) filled in part with content ripped from other sites and YouTube.

Today the Flo-to-customer relationship has matured from their original "never charge for content" missive to a fully monetized for-profit model. The altruism has died, and to a large extent that's totally fine. But as the business has grown the intellectual and professional attitudes of the company have failed to develop. There are constant complaints of billing difficulties, constant encroachment on media licensing and a general sense of entitlement that matches the 20-something bro-aesthetic.

Velliquette's article signaled that type of untethered institutional arrogance -- willing to compare themselves to an international broadcast channel without providing any content in the same cosmic zip code. Hubris at work, but since they are profitable and aligned with the interests of USA Wrestling, NWCA and the NCAA, the idea of becoming a bigger force in the marketplace is their idea to pursue. Just the same it's the right of other media to respond to Velliquette's claim and challenge them on their professionalism and quality of product.

What Velliquette and Flo will learn if they choose to continue with Hot Takes is that launching a wide-angled tirade against professional journalists from a position of power requires more than bro-speak and half-truths to convince the masses. Criticism requires a reputation, facts and hard work.

Wrestling has real journalists. I read Andy Hamilton, K.J. Pilcher and Jason Bryant every chance I get. They are some of the thought leaders and when they concentrate on assignment they let the facts guide their interpretation. Hamilton moved the discussion around stalling this year by researching his article on the dearth of scoring in the NCAA. I hopped on and have been pushing for change. Hamilton planted the idea in my head, and I'm happy to add to it as I can. That's what good journalism does. It informs by outlining problems with facts and then offers clear-headed solutions. It's not about throwing drunk haymakers to impress your bros.

The Flo article didn't move forward any new idea about ESPN. It only worked to expose the company's own set of NCAA coverage inaccuracies. The only substantive online discussion became their lack of professionalism and quality increasingly expensive service. As pointed out by Flo's own readers the ESPN coverage was more accurate, watchable and professional.

ESPN3 had a feature called "Off the Mat" during the finals
That's not a surprise. ESPN pays close to $40 million for the rights to broadcast several NCAA championships, including wrestling, and with that investment they provide an array of viewing options for the wrestling community on multiple free platforms. Flo provided poor quality footage shot by amateur cameraman, narrated by over-caffeinated announcers as interested in their own "Oh's" as they were the action on the mat. When it came time to lay down critiques, Velliquette not only fired blanks, but he did so against a company who'd outperformed his own.

The Flo crew works very, very hard. They are passionate bunch, and I don't doubt that to a person Nick, Christian, Joe, Mark, Willie, and Ryan are in this for the right reasons. I know that a healthy secondary market of video services will help wrestling grow, but the half-cocked M.O. and brashness has now tipped past inane and into offensive.

Flo simply can't compete with ESPN. The Worldwide Leader had dozens of cameras at the event, manned by grizzled sports vets who were supported by an array of super talented and professional employees with hundreds of years of sports production experience. Though Velliquette states that this year's NCAA's was done with "a crew that doesn't cover a single event" all year, ESPN does in fact cover other wrestling events. Earlier this year I was part of the broadcast team that covered the ACC Wrestling Championships in Blacksburg, Va., and saw first-hand how a professional broadcast is managed. That crew, myself included, worked on location in Oklahoma City.

The ESPN3 crew on-site was led by a sports producer with 30-plus years of big truck experience. He had only worked a dozen or so wrestling events, but to compensate for his lack of precise understanding he often asked for input from the experts. That's the opposite of hubris. That's modesty -- to be good enough in the mechanics of your employ to not have to overcompensate with emotion or fudge facts.

T.R. Foley and Shawn Kenney
My job as color commentator was simple, but ONLY because I had Shawn Kenney, a broadcast veteran with a huge future, leading the play-by-play. One of the most frustrating aspects of Velliquette's Hot Take was his ignorance of the skill and work put in by professional play-by-play announcers. Though I don't know much about Adam Amin, I do know that Kenney is the single most well-prepared professional broadcast journalist I've ever met, and I'm not exaggerating.

When I first met Kenney at the 2013 ACC Wrestling Championships he had several stacks of 5x7's and color-coded folders filled with back stories to help us fill the 10-plus hours of content. Kenney is from Iowa and knows wrestling, but to get involved in the ACC stories he'd watched previous matches (likely on Flo) and knew scores, coaches, athletes and storylines by memory. His work was near-brilliant.

And still, despite all that prep time he also found the confidence to NOT speak. He let the wrestling breathe and when the time was right he told fans about a wrestler's past, or their plans for the future. When the action got complicated he let me explain the technique. I'm not polished, but with his leadership -- and a voice that could soothe a Mother Grizzly suffering from postpartum depression -- I sounded intelligent. His hard work at those tournaments and efficacy in connecting with listeners landed him at the NCAA tournament. Work ethic and skill is rewarded by a professional organization and Kenney deserved better than to be belittled en masse by Velliquette.

If Flo wants to scream into the microphone while calling the 2014 Wyoming Middle School Wrestling Championships for the sake of proud grandmothers and 14-year-olds who found their parents' credit card, then that is their right. But taking unfounded shin kicks at the competition only opens them up for the type of criticism that starts as murmurs, but ends in shouts. I believe they can look at their own product and find a way to improve, but until then it's best to let the professionals take the lead.

To your questions ...

Q: Assuming that David Taylor got better between his junior and senior seasons, do you think that a senior David Taylor beats a senior Kyle Dake?
-- Philip M.

Foley: Tough to justify a David Taylor victory simply because he had one more year on the mats. Both he and Kyle Dake have been wrestling since they were knee-high to a pissing pot. Sure, another month matters, but it's just too ambitious to say that Taylor improved enough.

The duo's collegiate matches were as close as a wrestling match can get and I think I'd be devaluing Dake's performances in 2012-13 and the Magic Man's insane 2013-14 campaign if I bet on one side or the other.

But hey, we'll have the U.S. Open and U.S. World Team Trials where we might see these two get back at each other.

Q: How much weight does the typical Division I wrestler cut? How much weight does the typical MMA fighter cut?
-- B. H.

Foley: The main differences between the weight cutting habits of a Division I wrestler and an MMA fighter are time before competition and flexibility of the governing body overseeing the final weight.

In Division I, wrestling competitors weigh in two hours before a tournament and one hour before a dual meet. Most MMA organizations have night-before weigh-ins and often that means 30-plus hours of recovery. That time difference allows for much more recovery of the athlete and that translates to HUGE differences in weight cut.

There is no hard-and-fast rule when it comes to MMA fighters, but on average they are cutting up to 15 percent of their body weight in the week leading up to a fight. For a guy who fights at 185 pounds that means they will train at 215 pounds and then use a two-step weight-loss program, the second part of which is the accelerated sauna-based water cut for which you're probably familiar.

Wrestlers tend to cut significantly less weight. There is no recovering from a single-day crash cut of 15 pounds in time to wrestle with any level of fitness. Still, wrestlers at the Division I level tend to cut 5-10 percent of their body weight in the days leading up to a weigh-in.

When I was in school our training programs were in no way as year-round or as sophisticated as today's programs. When I wrestled 157 pounds I'd start the season at about 190 pounds of pudgy belly fat but with conditioning work could whittle that down to about 180 pounds by Oct. 1. The real practices started and we stopped boozing, which helped me get down to about 170 pounds by Nov. 1. To make hydration we'd make a single crash diet (like the MMA guys) and pass with ease. (Spoiler: Every wrestler cheats the hydration test, and mostly because it's a totally asinine way to determine how much a kid is cutting.) The first couple of weight cuts came from a combination of food and water restriction and often felt like they might be my death. Throughout the season I'd never get higher than about 164 pounds and that was because I was suffering from a terrible caloric restriction.

Things changed a bit my senior season. I grew a little more and because the NCAA had rear-ended me on my eligibility I was eating and drinking more heavily than normal. I was at the Cornell wrestling camp as an instructor, weighed in at 200 pounds, and immediately called my head wrestling coach to let him know that if I came back it would be at 165 pounds. To that point in my life it was the best decision I'd ever made.

At 165 pounds I was able to eat healthier, and was fortunate to have a better nutrition program. The water cut was no more than 5-7 pounds a tournament, which is what I think most wrestlers are now pulling per tournament.

Q: David Taylor was "only" a two-time NCAA champ and had three losses, but is he possibly the most dominant NCAA wrestler of all time with 125 out 136 victories earning bonus points? Has anyone else even come close to that metric?
-- Go H.

David Taylor (Photo/Rob Preston)
Foley: I'm not able to access the entire database, but none come to mind, although I'm told Yojiro Uetake Obata from Oklahoma State was basically unchallenged in the course of going undefeated and winning his three NCAA titles. His matches would often finish with 3-5 point gaps, but according to Lee Roy Smith, who runs the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, they were never matches.

Taylor was special because he was always trying to score. As we sit back and bemoan the riding time game in wrestling, we have to acknowledge that Taylor never rested on winning by a single point. He was always looking for a major decision, technical fall or fall. He's the type of wrestler we all want to be, and compared to Kyle Dake's fuzzy black and white outcome-focused version of wrestling, Taylor is an IMAX 3D Dolby Digital surround sound. He looks to entertain and enjoy.

That aggressiveness is what has endeared him to fans. He's "only" a two-time champion, but in a time and space where doing less has been rewarded he was an outlier. He was a wrestler looking to dominate.


Time to unionize!

Borislav Novachkov knocks off an Olympic champion

Women's World Cup HL -- They can wrestle!

Power of sport

Q: This question may sound absurd, but allow me to back it up. Do you think the Olympics removing wrestling turned out to be a good thing for the sport? First it forced wrestling to change some rules to make it more exciting (at least in the international disciplines). Second, it caused an increase in support from everyone. So is this increase in popularity related to the removal from the Olympics?
-- Tyler M.

Foley: There is no question that in terms of popularity, improvement of the governance and improvement of product the elimination of wrestling from the Olympics was a HUGE gift.

I wrote this a few months ago, but when I was in Krasnoyarsk for the Ivan Yarygin tournament, Buvaisar Saitiev was telling people that their gym in Krasnoyarsk had DOUBLED in enrollment in the 209 days of the Save Olympic Wrestling movement. Moms and dads of these little Russian bears (and American cowboys) were forced to consider the actual value of sport, and specifically the value of wrestling. For most the evaluation ended with an acknowledgement that it builds strong men and women.

Wrestling spent upwards of $10 million on the Save Olympic Wrestling campaign, but what the upheaval did to eliminate corruption within FILA and improve the rules -- which we now see are MUCH more exciting that collegiate -- ended up being priceless.

That doesn't mean that we should go through it again. Once was enough to learn our lesson.


Q: At this point, less than a whole week after the 2014 NCAAs finished up, who are your NCAA finalists in each weight class and your top five team finishers in 2015?
-- Nick M.

Foley: This all depends on the rule changes in the offseason. If riding time, stalling and out of bounds are amended then this will need to be updated. But assuming that a more aggressive style of the sport will be called ...

125: Jesse Delgado (Illinois) vs. Thomas Gilman (Iowa)
133: A.J. Schopp (Edinboro) vs. Cory Clark (Iowa)
141: Logan Stieber (Ohio State) vs. Devin Carter (Virginia Tech)
149: Jason Tsirtsis (Northwestern) vs. Hunter Stieber (Ohio State)
157: James Green (Nebraska) vs. Dylan Ness (Minnesota)
165: Alex Dieringer (Oklahoma State) vs. Nick Sulzer (Virginia)
174: Taylor Massa (Michigan) vs. Bob Kokesh (Nebraska)
184: Gabe Dean (Cornell) vs. Max Thomusseit (Pittsburgh)
197: J'den Cox (Missouri) vs. Kyle Snyder (Ohio State)
285: Nick Gwiazdowski (North Carolina State) vs. Mike McMullan (Northwestern)

Top five teams: 1. Iowa 2. Penn State 3. Ohio State 4. Minnesota 5. Oklahoma State

Q: My friends and I have been talking about who the best guys are that never won a title. Some names that come up are Tyrone Lewis, Sam Hazewinkel, Nick Simmons, and Montell Marion.
-- Sean M.

Foley: All those names sound delightful. I would add Daniel Cormier.


By Jared H.

Now that it is the end of the college wrestling season, what are your thoughts on the flash takedown? There were many instances of it not being called, as well as it being called wrong (in regards to the video the NCAA issued prior to conference tournaments). My issue with it is that it gets called a takedown and immediately whatever 'control' there was is lost in a nanosecond and an escape is awarded, then another flash takedown is scored. OKC saw this happen quite often. On a side note, two defensive falls the first day in OKC then never seen again. Consistency and the balls to call stalling are lacking. I own a rule book. I understand the objectiveness of the stall call. But just inform the coaches prior to the match that you will in fact call it as it is in the book.

By Dan B.

Regarding Ohio State AD Gene Smith receiving $18,000 for Logan Stieber winning an NCAA title ... Is this an opportunity for USA Wrestling to take advantage of considering the national attention the story has received? It really wasn't about Logan Stieber, more of an AD's personal gain off of an individual that he had no effect upon. But our sport is still in the spotlight. Currently, USA Wrestling compensates athletes who succeed internationally and this may sound really odd considering how opposed everyone is to Smith's contract, but what if USA Wrestling gave every AD who had a national champion $18,000? It would "only" be $180,000 a year (yes, it is always easy to spend other people's money so the logistics might not be as doable) or less if you capped it for multiple champs. Hire a PR firm to spin the money as a fight against Title IX's current enforcement and an effort to save the sport. Would that be an incentive for AD's of lower-level programs to keep wrestling when budget cuts come around? Make the payments public knowledge so ADs may feel pressure to give the money to the school, but give it to them nonetheless. How many programs have been cut even though they produced individual champions? Perhaps a personal incentive would have altered their thinking. I have to believe Trev Alberts might not have cut UNO's wrestling program if he had such an incentive given that program's success at the Division II level. Would Boston U's AD thought a little longer? I realize the answer may be no and it could have no effect, but it could also turn a bad story's focus back onto wrestling.


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greff (2) about 9 years ago
Gillman and Clark in the finals next year??? thats about as funny as Iowa winning it all
Bigwilly152 (1) about 9 years ago
Jon Trenge for one of the best to never win a title
cptafw163 (1) about 9 years ago
I like that one. However he is second to my top choice, who is Ricky Dellagatta (3x all American University of Kentucky). Pinned Randy Lewis at NCAAs to give Leboo his lowest NCAA finish for his final year. Also beat Lewis 21-10 at the 1984 Olympic trials for freestyle.
cbart22 (1) about 9 years ago
The guy you spoke about at Flo also handles some customer service issues several days after the fact. It always makes you feel better when the guy responding to your issue has a beer in his hand in his on-line picture.
hcraig4 (1) about 9 years ago
Great article on flowrestling. There were a few events that I wanted to watch such as the Dapper Dan Classic but after reading all the complaints about service I opted not to join. I read where users who opted for the monthly charged were then charged for the whole year and too often viewers couldn’t even see the event online. And it seems as though their customer service is non-existent. They’re too disorganized and basically no substantial content on the site. I think they need a better balance of video with content. Site structure and usability also needs improvement, I’m more likely to stumble across something of interest. Maybe they need more investment money and better management because they’ve got a great opportunity here.
Lode (1) about 9 years ago
I subscribe to their services and feel like they fill a niche so far unexplored in wrestling. They're passionate but sometimes overly. I think they take to the 'we're the rebel cool guys of wrestling' to appeal to the kids who will tell parents, pay for this!
I've had tickets for problems and never even heard back from anyone, lol.
In production 'you never yell into a microphone' is 1st day knowledge. When you break into the red, you're being too loud.
Some of my favorites of FLO... 480p broadcast resolution, 'technical difficulties' that cause me to miss the first couple weights for the finals of a premiere event (it's not because there's 4xs the amount of viewers compared to earlier rounds?!?), playing 'tune in Tokyo' with my volume knob so I can watch in the same room as my wife, billing issues like the rest of their subscribers, and that there's still some space around the borders of their site that don't have sold out advertising.
The model was always going to revolve into dough for FLO, hook em then bill em.
More Fretwell and Roper please!!!!
When I was Nick's age, I knew as much as he does and has equal humility. I know less now. ;)
wres (1) about 9 years ago
Very accurate and fair critique of Flo, love them but have the same views as you. You came across alot nicer than Foley did though, but I guess you don't have an agenda...
trfoley (1) about 9 years ago
I'm part of several ongoing and ideologically opposed agendas at the moment. Which agenda are you referring to?

Didn't intend to be "mean." Just fair and firm.

Thanks for reading.
thaneberg (2) about 9 years ago
So you criticize Flo for their "double premium service" but not your "Intermat platinum?"
Lode (1) about 9 years ago
$34.99/year Intermat Platinum

$150/year FLO PRO +
$99.00/year FLO Insider =
$249.00 Dough for FLO

I'm not a math guy... but...
thaneberg (1) about 9 years ago
Comparing Flo's content to Intermat is like comparing a newspaper to a cable/internet bundle. Both offer great insight to wrestling but one is more dynamic.
trfoley (1) about 9 years ago
There is NO problem in charging for content. Intermat's Platinum subscription is straight-forward, inexpensive and informative. As you probably know we put a lot of time into getting the information correct and presenting a professional product.

I pay for one of FLO Pro and like many in the wrestling world am consistently disappointed in the professionalism of the production and the glitchy delivery. The double premium services is frustrating in that all information sources for which I pay to access have a single, all-access price. The Flo sing-up is needlessly complex for the consumer, especially when you add-in the cancellations difficulties.
Lode (1) about 9 years ago
I'm a subscriber as well, or was with cancellations difficulties, lol. I will be again come September. They have a monopoly on what they offer, with that cart blanche. Question is ultimately, can anyone replace or compete with what they provide? I wish, but unfortunately the answer is a firm 'no'.
Lode (1) about 9 years ago
With this conversation and article, you've moved me to become an Intermat Platinum subscriber. Do you must also work for marketing and sales. j/k. It's about time someone set the medium for taking a closer look at FLO who has sway in the community. Thank you.
cptafw163 (1) about 9 years ago
On one of your radio shows last year, I heard the term "anal warts" thrown around. Just so happened to be the first time I clicked for a radio show. It was the last time. However you write well, except you need to cut down on the extremes. Like when you said "EVERY wrestler cheats the hydration test" not EVERY, you should use "most")
trfoley (1) about 9 years ago
Which episode? I don't have that in my book of profanity.

Yes, every wrestler cheats in the sense that nobody just walks in from class healthy, happy and hydrated. It's not possible.
tonyrotundo (1) about 9 years ago
Anal warts should be on page one of everyone's book of profanity. Assuming they are listed alphabetically and not by parental guide ratings.
Duffnuts (1) about 9 years ago
Ummm, heavyweights?
sjv (1) about 9 years ago
I am sincerely sick of hearing those yahoos at Flo screaming into the camera. Have to mute them just about every single time. . . . Also, not sticking with Gus Sako for the finals next year?
trfoley (1) about 9 years ago
I liked his side of the bracket. It imploded as I'd guessed, just with him inside. :)
jammen (3) about 9 years ago
If anyone else listened to ESPN when there were eight mats then they would agree that the announcing was terrible. I listened to Shane Sparks the entire time because the other announcers were ridiculously bad.
wres (3) about 9 years ago
Yep. Foley can complain about organizations and people, but I guess others cannot. Unless they work for Intermat too...
iheartwrestling (1) about 9 years ago
This sport needs cooperation and respect between Flo and ESPN. Both organizations are terrific and offer invaluable, but completely different, services to the wrestling community. Flo covers the smaller events and gives us great behind-the-scenes coverage, and ESPN brings its big bucks and world-class expertise to cover our biggest event of the year. Props to both organizations for being awesome!
wres (2) about 9 years ago
I'm a big fan of your work and religiously read the mailbag column from week 1. I enjoy following you on twitter and love how you are willing to carry on conversations on that platform. However, I think you're being way too hard on the Flo guys. What they are doing is great for the sport, and I know you agree with that. They have given us amazing access to wrestling that has never been around. Athletes and coaches all seem to love them and give them great content. I read Nick's column and while I didn't totally agree with it, I think he had a few fair points. You are a guy who often criticizes different organizations when they have shortcomings, but as soon as Flo does it, you have a big problem. On twitter when you called his column "garbage" seems like you were just trying to pick a fight. It's also hard to believe you are looking at this without bias, as you have been employed by ESPN and also at Intermat, a rival company. Sounds like a lot of sour grapes to me...
thaneberg (3) about 9 years ago
I completely agree. I go on Intermat and Flo everyday and read every article I can on both. ESPN did a tremendous job with their coverage this year, but they could have been doing this for many years now. If they had some shortcomings or ways to improve their coverage wouldn't we want them brought up so they can work on them?
trfoley (1) about 9 years ago
You make some good points. I have been employed by ESPN to both write and cover wrestling events. Though I don't think I was defending the brand as much as the individuals, I can see that you would think I lack objectivity.

FLO and Intermat are not competitors. Flo is a multimedia site, tournament organizer and brand. Intermat is a news provider that adheres to a pretty strict set of journalistic standards in providing news.

I feel confident that I deliver the criticism to all organizations. Maybe it came across as sour grapes, but I have respect for their work. There just needs to be improvements made to the production value, making their attack on ESPN ironic.

Thanks for the comment and for reading.
thaneberg (1) about 9 years ago
No need to thank me. I appreciate the work that Intermat does and enjoy reading you articles, even though I do agree with every opinion you have(fight shorts vs singlets. I just think devoting your entire mailbag to this article was not needed. I would have rather you wrote on the coaches who are in the hot seat or the upcoming freestyle/greco season.
tonyrotundo (1) about 9 years ago
Foley, I feel like you haven't directed enough criticism toward me and Wrestlers Are warriors, could you please be all inclusive? It did take me 2.5 weeks to get the World Cup photos done. Surely that deserves some criticism, no? ;^)
trfoley (1) about 9 years ago
I literally hate you, Rotundo. Next time I see you it's salmiakki shots for you.
tonyrotundo (1) about 9 years ago
Dang, you take one good wrestling photo and you're full of hate. Dude, I had to look that up, it sounds hellacious!
ched64 (1) about 9 years ago
i agree with every comment you made about Flo but I really think you should have mentioned much earlier in your piece that you were in Espn's employ previously and for this event specifically. By the time I read it, it seemed so deep into the piece as to appear deceptive or hidden.
The other thing I cant understand is how cheap most wrestling fans are. So many folks complaining about $100 or $200 to watch all sorts of events and wrestlers we would have no other way of seeing. while the awful announcing is unhelpful, these guys are buying gear and lugging it all over the country week in and week out. it isnt like the announcing is that great anywhere else sadly. the announcer at big ten wrestleback kept saying they were playing to see who would play in the third place match.
Espn was great...ESPN3 for the finals was phenomenal with Gibbons, Gable etc but week in and week out, high school, international, college, flo has tons of matches to see and their archive cant be much you paying for cable? i watch flow a helluva lot more than hbo...that is for sure!
AppleBottomJeans (1) about 9 years ago
This post is spot on. Foley is a good contributor to wrestling but his problems with FLO always come off as sour grapes. FlO is not intermat Foley. Get over it. Maybe it was a questionable article from Nick...(however, Nick did aknowledge the uptick in viewership and efficieny of ESPN) But was it worth the time and effort you spent trashing him and the entire FLO product? FLO has historically called for more accuaracy and excitement from ESPN in the finals...whats wrong with that? Think of UFC and how animated the announcers get when a climax of action is happening? (I think UFC is doing alright)FLO wants commentators knowledgeable and passionate about the sport to help sell it. Its their opinion of what is needed. (Heaven knows you have more than enough of those) At the end of the day, ESPN did a great job but some of Nick's points were spot on... there is room for improvment. You act like he slapped your momma. The arrogance and ego in your writing is obnoxious. Sometimes I wonder if you are looking in the mirror admiring yourself as you type.

Their 'bro' coverage as you like to call it appeals to the wrestling community, coaches, and casual fans starting to get interested in the sport. As a teacher and coach I use flo videos weekly to help recruit middle school/high school kids into wrestling. They love it. FLO speaks their language, my language, and has a good time doing it. Their fun, passion, and 'bro' mentality is revolutionizing our sport. But keep hassling them about spell check and a and how beneath you their product is and what they do. BTW..I was at Virginia Beach last week with 5 wrestlers and had mom's singing FLO's praises b/c they could watch their boys on FLO.
trfoley (1) about 9 years ago
To step up and go after ESPN for accuracy requires that you are accurate. The site is rotten with spelling, grammar and factual errors. I agree that a video site is powerful in expanding the reach of the sport, but there is a standard of quality that is not being met.

Bro-speak and screaming is NOT the standard of a professional media organization, nor will it ever be.
AppleBottomJeans (1) about 9 years ago
I have read far more irresponsible and factually inaccurate articles from CNN, FOX News,MSNBC, and all the news media giants. (and with 'gasp'...mispelled words!)

You said yourself in an above post they are not intermat. Therefore they are not bound by your unwritten rules about what qualifies someone to be allowed to criticize the almighty ESPN. (which by the way as a journalist, do you not have a truckful of complaints about their 'journalism' outside of wrestling?)

To quote Nick.."All in all, we should praise ESPN for the energy they put in expanding this year's NCAA coverage, but as wrestling fanatics, we cannot overlook the way ESPN delivered our SuperBowl."

Sounds to me like a guy writing an opinion piece on how ESPN can improve. To where you sound like a guy who gives FLO backhanded compliments but overall disrespects everything they stand for and do.

Also, did I miss something where FLO claimed they had better cameramen and video quality than ESPN? Of course they can't compete with multi-million dollar ESPN on coverage and overall quality. Does that mean they can't criticize them?
trfoley (1) about 9 years ago
I get that you're a fan and appreciate you're looking to poke holes in the piece, but would you agree that there are an abundance of errors in Flo's editorial content, both written and on video? Would you agree that there is a bro-culture that doesn't exist in the mainstream press they are looking to critique?

When you fail to have editorial oversight you lose credibility in your review of a competing organization's editorial process. That simple. I want more from Flo because they are capable of doing more. Challenging colleagues is not a personal attack, or a dismissal of their role in the community, it's a way of improving the way we are all viewed by those outside our community.
Kcu2001 (1) about 9 years ago
Foley - dont respond to this !! Obviously we know the source of this reply ..... That article did nothing but spit in the face of a professional organization who gave wrestling a HUgE opportunity this year !! He seems to think a single flattering line should allow him to unleash insult after insult is ridiculous (it's the ....with all due respect......then say whatever you want and it's ok then). How can anyone at FLO comment on the content and professionalism of ESPN ?? Like I said - I pay for FLO and enjoy content, but for them to call out ESPN on professionalism, knowledge, preparedness a one FLO coverage of an event,, will hear screaming and yelling over a 10 second ride out.....and then the crew will play grab ass and wrestle around. It's completely amateur and uncomfortable to watch. To be honest - it reminds me of middle or high school audio video club. It's entertaining to me but it isn't anything I take seriously. You are 100 percent correct with your assessment and I hope ESPN doesn't take this joke of a broadcast company seriously and hold the sport of wrestling accountable. Sorry ESPN !!!
Kcu2001 (1) about 9 years ago
Foley - also note - I don't expect you to endorse my post, but it needs to be said. I am a paying FLO member but that story by Nick was ridiculous. Don't compromise your values to appease the dissent.
Kcu2001 (1) about 9 years ago
The irony here is amazing !!! Do you even see it ??? You just unleashed 20 minutes of hate against a guy for critiquing a story that critiqued the professionalism of another broadcaster !!! If you are going to attack Foley for his "arrogance" please feel obligated to do the same to the very guy you are defending !!! How do you NOT see this ?? Do you see Nick the same way ??? What about the ti e Nick spent trashing ESPN....can you acknowledge that ?? You sir are hypocrite if you can not see that you attacked him for commenting on the VErY SAME thing nick did.......the only difference is that ESPN is a professional and battle tested and approved group of professionals....FLo - to be determined
thorn164 (2) about 9 years ago
Both Intermat and Flo are great. I happily pay for each of them.
spencerszewczyk (1) about 9 years ago
I love how someone asked if David Taylor was the most dominant college wrestler ever and didn't even consider that Ed Ruth, his teammate, was MORE dominant with 3 NCAA titles, the same amount of losses and just as many pins, techs and majors. Ruth majored returning NCAA finalists and multiple AAs like they were first year wrestlers, often looking bored in the process. Ruth was the most dominant wrestler.
As for Penn State not having any finalists next year: if Mega-Man redshirts and Gulibon wrestles 125 vice 133 (where he wrestled flat weight), he will be in the finals. I think McIntosh will drop to 184 and make the finals too. And if Zain doesn't redshirt I would be shocked if he didn't make the finals.
Corey (1) about 9 years ago
Regarding the Flo article, I've never been a fan. As an official working NCAA post-season events where Flo is the official video I found them impossible to work with. The tech support is not great and the video and ability to access specific points in the match isn't good. So for them to complain about ESPN is laughable.
Ben Golden (2) about 9 years ago
A couple thoughts:
1) I hate half of your finalist picks for next year, but that's ok. It's difficult to justify Garrett not being in the finals at 25, IMO. I also think Carter returning to the finals will be very tough and would probably pick Retherford over him (though I absolutely love Carter). I also think the Massa pick is TOTALLY unfounded based on everything (which is to say nothing) he's done in college so far. But like I said, that's ok; in the end all prognostication is worth the same.

2) Regarding Dan B.'s comment... I read through Gene Smith's contract and he's actually not allowed to accept compensation from anyone but Ohio State (maybe endorsements are allowed, but I'm sure those are pending approval), so I don't think he would be able to accept pay from USAW. I imagine many other AD's have similar stipulations.
leeperryan (1) about 9 years ago
The FLO article seems to be "mostly" fair criticism to me. The ESPN3 coverage of the tournament was awesome; being able to watch every match, but the commentary definitely had a whole lot of room for improvement. Incorrect terminology, lack of excitement, and little awareness of the significance of situations stood out the most to me. Still, much better than in the past and I think it will be even better next year!
Rpreston1 (1) about 9 years ago
I just wasted 10 minutes of my Friday reading about how bad FLO is - Friday Mailbags are running out of topics to discuss.

FLO is amazing - so is Intermat. Why can't we all just get along?

As for grammar issues, c'mon. Fancy words and rants don't draw my attention. Content does.
trfoley (1) about 9 years ago
It's not wasted time when it's spent among friends.
dbabbitts (1) about 9 years ago
I don't like the "Time Warner" approach FLO takes with it's platform (I dumped TW a long time ago), but like many other fans, something is better than nothing.
In regards to your picks, I hope you are not wagering company funds...if you are, I foresee an increase in Intermat charges.
Finally, a question...what team do you think cuts the most weight. I see a lot more wrestlers moving up in weight (at certain schools) than in the past.
ksmorsc (1) about 9 years ago

I must say that I get on my computer every Friday and read your article first thing. Love it. Loved this one.

My only issue with FLO is that they are not professional. You, Foley, are professional with your actions and articles. What wrestling needs is a little professionalism.

Thank you, Sir.
Duhawk45 (1) about 9 years ago
Flo has been great for the sport of wrestling. Starting out, it was ok to use consumer cameras and just let the rhetoric fly. They were using what they got.
Now, it's time to grow up. If they want to be the media platform for wrestling, they need to treat it with the professionalism it deserves.
I couldn't believe the set up Flo was using for instant reply at the Tourney. Using a cheap Wal Mart video camera to possibly determine the outcome of an NCAA Championship match is embarrassing.
gravy (1) about 9 years ago
Inserting a rant in every section of last weeks mailbag concerning Gene Smith doesn't seem professional. Make your point and move on. This seemed more in line with a high school newspaper editor after attending an Occupy Wall Street rally than a mature professional journalist.
trfoley (1) about 9 years ago
You remembered that it happened, which means in the end you understand the extent to which the system is titled against the workers like Stieber towards the favor of upper management like Smith

It was all gravy, gravy.

Thanks for commenting.
chasev619 (1) about 9 years ago
Askren is most dominant 2 timer.
And if were just counting folkstyle accomplishments id put Gerry Abas up there as greatest to never win it (3,2,2,2) with Megaludis most likely joining that group next year (2,2,3,?)
flounder1960 (1) about 9 years ago
What I've noticed about wrestling commentators on television is there's often a situation like the dog show commentators in "Best in Show". One guy will be very knowledgeable and the other guy is there to ask uninformed questions, I guess to help educate the public. Which is kind of insulting, this wouldn't be done for q basketball game.
MLJ (1) about 9 years ago
I agree. There is such a fine line between educating the viewer and talking down to them.

As for "Best in Show"
Kcu2001 (1) about 9 years ago
Funny thing - I had a critical review of Nick at FLO's terrible "slap in the face article" directed at ESPN and what did Nick do ??? He deleted my post !!!! I didn't realize until today that Nick is the guy in the FLO videos who typically constantly points at the camera and/or wrestles and rough houses w Bader during broadcasts. Is he really worthy to talk down on ESPN ?? FLO has the most amateurish and silly videos ......they are criticizing ESPN coverages??? Please - give me a break !! How does this guy still have a "broadcast" job?? Absolutely shocking that this guy can even pretend to be in the level of ESPN !!!!
jkwjr52 (1) about 9 years ago
As for the Most Dominant, didn't Obata win an Olympic Gold while still at Okla.State!?
Yes-Man (1) about 9 years ago
FLO WRESTLING reminds me of The Blair Witch Project. Just seems to be one big Selfie. Spotty productions narrated by a bunch of obnoxious chimps. On the other hand, I wasn't thrilled when ESPN interviewed Kyle Dake during the J'Den Cox vs "I'm stuck in reverse" Nick Heflin championship match.
Pat Fetter (2) about 9 years ago
When talking most dominant collegiate wrestler, it seems everyone forgets about Dan Hodge, the namesake of wrestling's Heisman. I believe he pinned something like 46 out of 56 opponents. Oh, and he never surrendered a takedown!
carpediemwrestling (1) about 9 years ago
I am in total agreement with T.R. Foley in this article. When Flowrestling came out I was a HUGE fan. I thought that what they were doing was exactly what this sport needed and that they were filling a HUGE hole in our sport. We got no media coverage and exposure on a National stage. There was not a day I did not go to their website and I told anyone who would listen they should check them out. Then after a couple of years they experimented with putting advertising into the videos and I was a little taken back, but understood that they were getting to a level that they needed income to continue to support themselves. Up to that point you had guys like Bader and Joe flo sleeping in cars and shacking up with whoever would put them up so they could cover events for us. That is highly commendable but unsustainable. Then came the technique videos with a premium service, now you have a have a membership if you want to watch anything of substance. Their coverage is not very good and they lost me as a fan. I think ESPN did a great job of covering the NCAA's and because of the success it had will probably continue and grow from here. What this sport needs more than anything is media coverage. FREE media coverage. We need to begin to appeal to the masses. We need to build our fan base and GROW in popularity as a sport. This is THE GREATEST sport on the planet bar none. We all know it now we need to get others to see it. I had a lot of people who I know that are not wrestling fans (but know I am) tell me they actually watched the NCAA's this year...and liked it. They actually talked about wrestlers by name!!! That is HUGE and what this sport needs. Great article T.R. Foley. I also like the job that BTN does for the BIG 10 as well. We just need more of it and to expand it to more teams. I am also a big fan of Intermat and come here almost daily for my wrestling fix. Great job guys!
Granbyman (1) about 9 years ago
Q: David Taylor was "only" a two-time NCAA champ and had three losses, but is he possibly the most dominant NCAA wrestler of all time with 125 out 136 victories earning bonus points? Has anyone else even come close to that metric?

"Mean Gene" Mills & Wade Schalles come to mind, since they have the most pins.



One way I can possibly get their % is to get every single AWN from their collegiate years & check the box scores. Some records are lost (Orange Bowl Open tourney for Mills).
rperson95 (1) about 9 years ago
I'm a few days late to this, but I absolutely LOVE this article regarding flowrestling. One thing that may have gone unnoticed in all of this is that flowrestling has monopolized wrestling to the best of their ability. Since nobody else covers the sport, they are allowed to charge whatever they want. If ESPN decides to get more involved then their whole company goes down the drain. I love that a professional like yourself has finally taken a stand against these people. To be ranked, you must go to their tournament (flonationals). In order to watch matches, you must be fully dedicated to their website. Thank you for finally pointing all of their flaws out. Respect to FLO and their crew for putting in time and effort, but if they want to really want to grow the sport, they shouldn't care about being celebrities in the wrestling world itself.
dbabbitts (1) about 9 years ago
Of the best wrestlers to never win a title, I would throw out Greg Elinsky of Penn State. 138-16, 3X EWL champion, 4X AA going 7-2-2-3 (lost in semis senior year to Kevin Jackson on Criteria 6). Gerry Abas of Fresno St at 4-2-2-2 is also one of the best never to win.
mtmazzoni (1) about 9 years ago
ESPN did a great job of coverage. Both FLO and Intermat, if your true motivations are to promote the sport why charge people interested in your content.
Bucksman (1) about 9 years ago
One of the things to remember is that there is a cost to producing content. Heck, even ESPN puts some of its content behind a "pay-wall".

Of course ESPN also has many more prongs of revenue as they operate on a vastly larger scale than Flo or Intermat.
Vinchenzzz (1) about 9 years ago

Your article is filled with inaccuracies and mis-understandings.....You do not realize the extent and passion Flo has for the sport and the hours upon hours of work put in to keep the best content available....Flo is constantly pushing the envelope.....Not everyone is going to be happy with Flo just as not everyone is happy with Intermat.....Reading these comments just makes me frustrated because if you think that Flo is about the money you are wrong...granted ESPN can broadcast on our Television...We pay a cable bill, they don't just cover wrestling, and they have huge advertisement revenues....Flo has to charge just to be able to get the funds needed to get the content onto the site.....I feel that Nick's article is warranted...If someone is not going to do something right then why do it at all? I just feel your misguided in your opinions about Flo and that your failure to see and realize the great thing Flo has done for the sport is disappointing....Of course Flo is over the top...THATS WRESTLING MAN!!! Flo has fun, wrestling is fun!