Foley's Friday Mailbag: May 27, 2016

The Olympics are 70 days away and with no more qualifying events the only thing left to consider is who each country is going to send as their representative.

With such a massive event on the horizon you would think spots had been earned and teams named, but in two prominent freestyle stories those answers are amiss. The most compelling drama belongs to two-time Olympic medalist Sushil Kumar's court action against the Indian Wrestling Federation. Though he's been absent from competition for much of the last four years, he's requesting a special wrestle-off against Narsingh Yadav, the 2015 World bronze medalist for India at 74 kilos.

While Kumar is unquestionably the best wrestler in Indian history, his absence from the sport and bumping up of weights can't be ignored. For their part the IWF has been stalwart in their repelling of Kumar's attempts at securing the wrestle-off, saying that since Yadav qualified the spot he should go to the Olympics. A fair assessment, since allowing Kumar an opportunity to wrestle off would open a Pandora's box of challengers across all weight categories.

Yadav will likely retain the spot, but the entire drama has been fun to watch and is worth the read.

The other drama is going on now with the Russian National tournament in Yakutsk. Earlier today the match Dagestan's Muskaev started a fistfight and prompted the entire Dagetani contingency to boycott wrestling after a bad call gave Yakutia's hometown hero Viktor Lebedev a controversial win.

Be sure to watch and see how the rest of the tournament unfolds!

To your questions …

Q: Why are our top guys competing in Beat the Streets and the World Cup? What if they get hurt? Seem a bit much to have folks going full out live within 60 days of the Olympics, no?
-- Bryan R.

Foley: The Beat the Streets event was up in weight and against opponents who either offered a great learning opportunity (Kim Hyeon-woo of Korea) or who offered little real threat of winning (see: entire freestyle opposition).

As for the World Cup I think it's a perfect time to tune the engines. There will be a nice weight cut, some good match experience (again, against lower accredited opponents) and a warm-up to the atmosphere expectant in Rio.

The rest of the world is actually choosing to wrestle 60 days out as well. I'm currently in Tokyo for a documentary on Yoshida and Icho and learned that Icho is headed to Poland for a tournament in two weeks. Along the same lines Frank Staebler is also headed to Poland to compete, as is most of the Mongolian women's national team.

Overall, I think 60 days is a nice time to get in one last tune-up tournament, or at least a few matches.

Morgan McIntosh battles J'den Cox in the NCAA finals (Photo/Tony Rotundo,
Q: About 14 months ago Morgan McIntosh beat both Kyle Snyder (4-1) and J'den Cox (3-1). Granted, these were folkstyle matches. But do you think McIntosh has a chance to make a World team in the next Olympic cycle?
-- Ronald M.

Foley: After Frank Molinaro made the U.S. Olympic Team, it's safe to say that everyone has a chance. McIntosh's best chance would be if Snyder moved into heavyweight at some point and allowed for some room in the lineup. Otherwise, he may need to move up on his own and see how he fairs.

Important to note as well that freestyle and folkstyle are dramatically different. Would need to see more of Morgan before I could endorse him with an upset victory over two very promising young Olympians, with one of them being the defending World champion.

Q: What are your thoughts on the Minnesota state of affairs? J Robinson handled a Xanax case in house?
-- Todd S.

Foley: This is a shorter mailbag so let me leave you with my initial reaction. J Robinson did what he thought was best by his team and the individuals involved. There was nothing nefarious about his actions and it was never (in my opinion) his job to turn the athletes into the police. So far no cover up seems afoot, so it's really just a concerned father figure looking to help his athletes make better decisions.

And for anyone who thinks that pills aren't on every campus and being sold by damn near everyone with a prescription, you're fooling yourself. Abuse of prescribed medications like Xanax and Oxycontin is an epidemic and like all good American scandals someone is getting rich off it … and it's not the Minnesota wrestling team.

For J I imagine that the real rub is that the drugs were being sold by his team and to his team. While there were pills being sold outside of his program, he knew that correcting their behavior would benefit everyone.

Whether pills or marijuana or other recreational drugs the impulse to punish those involved is too high (pun not intended). Should they be forced into jail, or clog the justice system because they helped others consume a drug to help them relax? This argument isn't for the wrestlers, but a broader issue we face in determining what the right course of action is for this behavior. On the scale of just punishments J Rob's was much more in line with a sensible solution than that of a random judge adjudicating the process. And again, I feel this way about most recreational non-habit-forming drug users and sellers.

Q: Will J Robinson survive this drug scandal at Minnesota? Or is too early to know?
-- Mike C.

Foley: Dealing strictly with J Rob's job security -- not the above mentioned analysis of right/wrong -- I'll guess that he resigns rather than is made to suffer some ongoing investigation. These things have legs because they find clicks and reaffirm the belief that college athletics is dirty business. Basically he'll go because there will be pressure by the media, for the sake of the media.

In my opinion, J's career is far too distinguished for him to be bogged down in this type of mess. My hope is that he stays this year and resigns at the end of next season, handing off to someone like Damion Hahn whose name recognition and coaching pedigree are fantastic and appropriate.

Overall, probably too early to know, but in my experience these stories -- especially on college campuses -- don't just disappear.



Water Bottle Flip is the best Internet video … Ever?

Q: With Mike Mendoza leaving CSU Bakersfield for Boise State, any thoughts on who might take over at CSU Baskersfield?
-- Mike C.

Foley: I haven't the faintest. There are a lot of challenges to that job. Bring back Joe Seay?

Q: I know this is very subjective, but if Spencer Lee keeps winning like he has been, do you put him as the greatest high school wrestler of all time? What he has done the last few years on the high school, national, and international stages is mind blowing.
-- Joe F.

Foley: Yes, but I think he needs to make a senior team or log some type of senior level victory to be on the same level as Cary Kolat.

That and he needs to win out the rest of his matches until graduation on both stages and do so in dominant fashion. I think that the amount of attention he receives (InterMat, Flo, etc.) will help further the argument that he's as good, or maybe better, than Kolat.

Q: Who wins American Wrestling Idol between Olympians Kerry McCoy (2000, 2004) playing the cello (pre-YouTube, apparently) and J'den Cox (2016) playing the guitar and singing?
-- Irv O.

Foley: J'den is undefeated on the mat. Imagine that will remain when he steps on stage since in addition to playing an instrument the guy also can belt a note.


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ddb191 (2) about 5 years ago
Although prescription pill abuse is widespread, xanax is hardly as benign as marijuana. It is a benzodiazepine, which is habit forming, can produce withdrawal and which can be fatal, especially when mixed with alcohol. I think you are a bit too quick to dismiss it as harmless.

Regardless, I also expect JRob will end up stepping down. It's a really unfortunate career end for one of our sports greatest motivators and legends.

As for other possible replacements? Mark Perry, Terry Brands (?!), Kevin Dresser? Cary Kolat?
CoachC (2) about 5 years ago
Sorry, dude, but you are way off base with J-Rob. I usually agree with your reasoning on many things regarding wrestling today, but J-Rob did nothing different the A. Briles at Baylor. Criminal activity was overlooked in a "fatherly way". That is unacceptable. A regular student is yoked up and arrested, as well as dismissed from school. Are drugs and other crap happening? Yup. It happened when I was wresting D3 back in the 80's. But I do know this; If my coach in college had found this situation, anyone involved would have been finished in a heartbeat. I will use a situation my son's high school found themselves in during football this past fall. New kid in school and two lifers (lifers are the kids in this private school who have been there since Pre-K) are caught dealing, all are gone in a New York second. Several others, including a star football player, caught up in the extended net are dealt with severely. Football guy is done, off the team as a senior captain. Not from the school, but from the coach. He made if very clear that there are some things where a second chance can't be offered to correct. I can't tell you how much I respect that decision. And the team was 100% behind him. I wonder if J-Rob discussed this with the whole team since it is the whole team under the microscope now. Again, I dig your writing/subjects/reasoning, but way off base with this one.
CoachPrebes (2) about 5 years ago
While J. Robinson acted in what can be considered as "the best interest of his wrestlers", he should have reported the incident to his superiors and the university police. Selling prescription drugs is a felony and what the University of Minnesota wrestlers were doing could be considered like a drug ring. If the average University of Minnesota students were found to be selling a high volume of Xanax, marijuana, or any other controlled substance, they would be arrested and charges filed. Should we overlook charging these wrestlers with dealing drugs, just because they are athletes? Personally, I don't think so. Unfortunately, I feel J. Robinson overstepped his bounds as a coach; as a university employee he is bound by the same rules and regulations set up by the school in terms of handling things like this.
tortola15 (2) about 5 years ago
Unfortunately, a good size group of the J Rob 'recruited' wrestlers proactively chose to deal drugs to their teammates and fellow students. I put this in the higher end of the strata of bad acting that includes scenarios like the Duke Lacrosse team (recruited athletes caught having raunchy sex parties).

MN officials need to ensure all the due process needed is followed to avoid the lawsuits from the well-heeled 'my little boy would never do that' parents like at Duke.

In the end J Rob brought those kids to campus so he will pay the price no matter how fatherly he acted.
ched64 (3) about 5 years ago
uh, the Duke students weren't in trouble for having raunchy sex parties, they were accused falsely of raping a woman by a lunatic now in jail for murdering her boyfriend, railroaded by a local DA and most disgustingly prejudged by school administrators and teachers! Those parents had every right to sue! Do some reading on an issue before you comment on it next time. Unbelievable.
InfiniteCrest (1) about 5 years ago
Foley, you are wrong about the situation with J Robinsin. Very wrong. Robinson is a university employee, therefore it is absolutely his job to report his findings on a potential felony (maybe not to police necessarily, but absolutely to his superiors). Step outside of the sport for a little bit. If any residence director, student life director, or professor at a university from plowed his actions, they would be fired within 24 hours. I would imagine the only think keeping Robinson there at the moment is his previous accomplishments and reputation.

Also, you can wax poetic about the lack of proper drug policy in the United States all you like (I actually agree with you on this), but that doesn't excuse the actions of somebody who decided that he was he was gonna circumvent the whole internal felony process and become police officer, judge, jury, and executioner. I think J Robinson was and is a great ambassador for the sport of wrestling, but he, like so many other coaches today in a wide variety of sports acted in accordance with what would keep this issue from hurting his team and, by extension, himself. Hats off to the wrestler who decided to buck the peer pressure and blow the whistle on the incident.
trescuit11 (1) about 5 years ago
i love the panda video haha
wres (1) about 5 years ago
Punishment or discipline? Unlike all the other posts, I agree with your take on the J Rob situation. The goal of punishment is to apply pain and suffering for actions. The goal of discipline is to change behavior. I think what J did was the best way to get to these kids without letting our court systems screw these guys for life.
spencerszewczyk (2) about 5 years ago
These kids screwed themselves when they decided to sell prescription drugs. 3,000 pills is a felony amount and if they weren't on a sports team, they would be expelled from school and be in prison. Writing a one page letter saying you're sorry doesn't let someone circumvent the laws of this country. J Rob has a legal responsibility as an employee of the University to report this kind of illegal activity to his superiors, and to the police.
jammen (1) about 5 years ago
Marty Morgan would be Minnesota fans first choice.
Jefe (2) about 5 years ago
"Foley: After Frank Molinaro made the U.S. Olympic Team, it's safe to say that everyone has a chance."

Hard to write a more seemingly dismissive sentence. Hopefully this was merely sloppy, thoughtless writing.
ched64 (1) about 5 years ago
isn't America's underpinning rooted in the fact that the underdog can prevail?! Doesn't Foley's progressivism find itself rooted in the same? So why the cheap shot on frank the tank? Though I don't think that was his intent. He was merely saying that if Frank can get coached up through that room, a wrestler of MM's credentials has a very good shot as well.
That said, Foley never grew up in the drug world in any way. He was a d1 athlete who probably never hung with the stoners, never knew guys who moved on to bigger stuff, and never knew guys who were found dead after many years of abuse. funny that his reaction is to embrace jrobs approach, while ripping conservatives on a weekly basis, but never looking at how much damage these drugs actually do to the communities he claims to be a champion of
Paboy593 (2) about 5 years ago
Being an avid Foley supporter I find this difficult to say. But I feel intermat as a staff should clear up their stance on narcotic sales and use. I feel this last mailbag intro sent the complete wrong message to young athletes. I usually ignore commentors claims of any agenda t.r. has, and I'm not saying he has one now. But his viewpoint is way off here. Its clearly evident. My exact sentiments are shared by way too many people. I like to think I'm a progressive thinker as well. Mark Palmer and company how do you guys feel about this topic?? I'd never think to boycott intermat or the mailbag due to it's fantastic content and great support to our sport. But this is the kind of thing that brings up those words. with the best intentions here.
jhowe (3) about 5 years ago
So the guys illegally selling a highly addictive, controlled substance at an exorbitant price were just helping others consume a drug that helps them relax? With no idea of appropriate dosage, other meds the person may be taking, medical problems the person may have? Just trying to help out their fellow man. How about just wanting to make money and not giving a damn about the consequences for them or for those buying the pills. Xanax is not a recreational, non-addicting drug and those selling them are predators...nothing less. Anyone from the team that was involved in selling these should, at the very least, be gone from the team. Although I'm sure J-Rob acted without malice, he was absolutely in the wrong here and needs to fall on his sword.
mont0505 (1) about 5 years ago
CoachC - You "dig" his writing...? Who uses that term anymore? I was with you for awhile but that turned me away. You are a little too out of touch to be commenting.
jammin - Marty Morgan? Time to update yourself to the 21st century.
Jefe - Yes if Molinaro can make the Olympic team then anything, literally anything is possible. Molinaro will never ever again reach this level. It was a lucky one in a million happening. If you think he can even sniff a medal you are very delusional.
JRob did the right thing. He is the type of coach you would love to have your son wrestle for. Get off your high horses and give the man credit for the life he has lived and continues to model.
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