That action, known colloquially as "face-mushing" is essentially grinding your opponent's face in the mat in a manner that is neither sporting, nor kind. Though unlikely to cause physical damage, face mushing is a disrespectful gesture meant to prove dominance opponent -- something you would think a 15-point victory already achieved.
This type of brutish and combative behavior isn't just dumb, reductive and immature; it also propagates the wrongheaded culture within wrestling that aggression and intimidation are weapons to be utilized. While fan boys of needless hostility might find gestures like face mushing as an endearing necessity of (faux) tough guy culture, in reality it's nothing more than a display of misplaced testosterone and underlying insecurity.
Winners don't denigrate and disrespect their opponents. Are they tough? Yes. Unrelenting in their forward pressure? Sure. Are they unapologetic in dominance? Of course.
The great ones were known as great in part because of a technical elegance, but also personal grace. John Smith, Gholamreza Takhti, Kaori Icho and Alexander Karelin -- none of these greats are prolific smilers, but they also weren't total jerks.
Trash talking, chest-bumping, and punch-throwing outbursts come about when wrestlers are taught to hide and protect their weaknesses and failures rather than explore them. The true champions don't see shortcomings as weakness, but as opportunities to improve. You don't get better because you emphasized the walloping of an opponent with a parting gesture more befitting a jailhouse than a wrestling mat.
Dollars to donuts, Thomas Gilman wins more matches if he tones down the bad boy rhetoric, and ceases to use intimidation as main wrestling skills. To fill the void of anger he (and others) could instead look at the technique missing from their repertoire and analyze it honestly and without bravado.
Wrestlers like Gilman (and there are many who act out in a similar fashion) could find enrichment from self-awareness and by default probably win more wrestling matches. But more importantly they could become better brothers, sons and teammates.
To your questions …
Q: J'den Cox is supposedly moving down to 86 kilos for the Trials. Ben Askren seems to think he can be a contender there. Do you think he can challenge the likes of Jake Herbert, Kyle Dake, David Taylor, Ed Ruth and Keith Gavin?
-- Mike C.
Missouri's J'den Cox celebrates after his victory against Cornell (Photo/Mark Lundy, Lutte-Lens.com)Foley: You can't discount an NCAA champion at a weight class that seems to be wide open. However, not surprisingly, I don't agree with Ben. The paper might look good for Cox, but there is little chance he's having the type of run needed to secure an Olympic spot.
The first big hurdle Cox will need to overcome is his lack of experience at the international level. Rules have changed, winning takes experience, and a strategy is almost as important as athleticism.
On the technical side of the argument I worry most about Cox's shot defense. The way it seems to me, Cox: 1. Won't hold up to a set of attacks (Taylor, Herbert), 2. Leaves himself vulnerable to trap-arm gut wrenches in scrambles (Dake, Taylor), 3. Is often out of position, making him vulnerable to pushouts (Gavin, Ruth).
For now I'm thinking this is Dake's spot to lose, but do remember that someone still needs to qualify the weight class in order to even have this discussion.
Q: There has been a ton of talk recently about creating action and scoring, especially from the neutral position. First, I hate the four-point near fall rule and second I hate the funk roll defensive tactics.
-- Jason M.
Foley: Funk can be fun in places, but since the maturation of defensive techniques we are seeing a burst of stalemates. That essentially means we have 30 seconds of feeling out, a shot on the edge of the mat, a whizzer into some skank roll and finally an out-of-bounds or stalemate call. We are two minutes in and there is no score, which means there is little incentive to score.
With the additional point for the same exposure, I can see why it shouldn't matter much, but I still disagree since there is nothing balancing out that extra point.
For example, the international rule set added a point to the takedown, but they did so because too many people were using the pushout as an equal scoring opportunity. Athletes, coaches and fans wanted to see more techniques, but instead were seeing more of a shoving match.
By incentivizing the turn the NCAA has forced more ground wrestling, which they hoped would increase action. In reality, two things have occurred. First, the top guy is so focused on that extra point he goes into a traditional snore ride between tilting attempts. Second, the moves that go from feet to back which were once five points are now six, but there is no extra opportunity for the wrestler who is down to make up that point. There is no balancing of scoring opportunities.
If somehow takedowns were three points and those throws still only counted for six points there would be an equitable balance. But for now, any turn or any successful throw (in coordination with successive defensive wrestling from the knees) essentially eliminates the trailing wrestler's opportunity to wrestle back from his deficit.
Q: Isaiah Martinez and Jason Nolf meet on Saturday. The betting line is Martinez -5/Nolf+5. What side are you betting?
-- Mike C.
Foley: That's a fantastic line. I think that Nolf gives up too may points and Martinez will be charged up for the challenge.
Martinez by 7.
Highlight video from Ivan Poddubny (Hope you like house music … )
Interesting points: Brands moves mats, John Smith wears cowboy hats (even on the road), and boy-oh-boy do kids these days look young.
Link: Massive human reported to do 5k pushups per day
Link: Unfortunately this is the most-viewed wrestling story of 2016
Trump and Cruz FINALLY killed the singlet
Never mind … this also helps eliminate the singlet from ever being a viable, popular uniform …
Q: I'm afraid my Gophers are going to have the worst finish in 25 years. They are in danger of having a losing record for the first time since 1991-1992. They also just dropped out of the top 25 rankings. I know the Gophers have had some rebuilding years but nothing like this in a while. Even in those rebuilding years you'd see a freshman or two have a very solid season. Other than Tommy Thorn I don't have faith anyone is going to step up.
Do you think J Rob is not getting it done like he used to? It seems like the team is becoming very Minnesota-only focused yet still lose top recruits to Penn State, ASU, and Purdue. Do you think if the Gophs could recruit all the top wrestlers in Minnesota they could get back to the top?
-- Jeff M.
Foley: The Gophers are in trouble.
As you cited there is less talent in their room than recent seasons and recruiting has been down for the last few years. The toughness J Rob imbued into the performance of past teams seems to be missing in 2016.
The chemistry may just be off. They've lost coaches over the past few years and those missing contributions may have finally stacked too high. There is "sum greater than its parts" element to the formation of a top-caliber squad and sometimes that concoction can be volatile, and other times just flat wrong.
Given his track record I'm certain he's not accepting this season as the new status quo. New wrestlers, maybe a new approach to training -- anything and everything will be up for review in 2016.
The only thing lost from a down season (or few in a row) is the element of mystique they once enjoyed. That reputation is near impossible to earn, but can be lost in just 12 months.
Q: Did Brian Shute wrestle in college? If so, what kind of college career did he have?
-- Mike C.
Brian Shute was a three-time All-American at OregonFoley: Absolutely Shute wrestled in college. He took the loss to Louden Swain and parlayed it into a sales pitch on his ability to showcase improved sportsmanship.
Shute attended the University of Oregon where he was a three-time All-American for the Ducks. After the school dropped the program Shute made appeals to the administration and local officials. Nobody listened, so Shute disappeared. Nobody is quite sure where he is today, but legend has it he stalks Eugene, waiting for Phil Knight and the perfect moment to strike.
(Seriously though, have you seen a recent picture of Les Gutches? Was he not the inspiration for Shute?!)