The Eierman transfer comes on the heels of news that Greg Kerkvliet has decommitted from Ohio State and will also be looking for a new home for his college wrestling career. The decisions caused the typical pearl clutching of Wrestling Twitter, but at its heart actually indicates a healthy student-focused approach to the health of the student-athlete.
There are plenty of wrestlers who believe that loyalty and observation of long-standing norms are the only way forward. But as a former competitor and coach I know that the stress of competition at the Division I level can cause plenty of emotional damage to a young person. That's not to indicate what is happening in these circumstances, but the mental health and well-being of the student-athletes must be paramount and to guarantee that means guaranteeing their unencumbered freedom in movement and school choice.
Times have changes even since I left school in 2003. The wrestlers today are focused on the next stage of their careers while still in their collegiate singlets. This means that they are being drawn in by the RTC coaching staff and training situation as much as they are the food options in the dining hall and extracurricular activities popular with the coeds in the spring (read: drinking).
That Eierman wants to put himself in a training situation that allows for Olympic success is to be admired. No matter his choice of school, it was a brave decision to risk a late career change in NCAA wrestling in the trust that it will positively impact the opportunity to become an Olympic-caliber athlete.
Good luck to Eierman, Kerkvliet and any other wrestler out there who needs to make a change in their career.
(But also … Iowa is loading up!)
To your questions …
Missouri head wrestling coach Brian Smith (Photos/Mark Lundy, Lutte-Lens.com)
Q: Obviously, there have been a lot of changes at Missouri. Some coaches left in the offseason. J'den Cox left to train at the OTC. Now Jaydin Eierman is transferring. Do you expect Missouri to take a step back in the coming years? Or will Brian Smith keep the program as a perennial top-10 program?
-- Mike C.
Foley: Losing Eierman means losing points at the NCAA tournament, which absolutely means taking a step back in the near-term. In the long-term Smith's Tigers will rebound, largely because he's a hard-working, proven leader with the ability to develop talent.
Coach Smith's system (whatever that looks like) has worked for him and I don't think that a series of changes in the near-term will force him to reorganize that system, or stop being able to properly teach techniques, motivate, or oversee fundraising. While it's never too early to be aware of these types of movements (especially when they are tightly grouped), I think Smith and his staff deserve the benefit of a few years to see if things turn sour, or the program stabilizes and continues marching forward.
Q: What do schools like Missouri (smaller budget and basically no RTC) need to do to keep me their best wrestlers and their top recruits? There are vultures out there, man.
Foley: If the top tier of schools attracting RTC talent and big recruits is Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, Iowa, Nebraska, and Oklahoma State then that would make Mizzou the second tier. If you put Iowa and Penn State as Tier 1, the rest Tier 2, then they are Tier 3. That ranking doesn't matter too much except to illustrate that there is a significant distance to climb just to hope you could be on par with the established big shots.
I'd say retreat. For now you make a tactical retreat and invest in the wrestlers and their development. Attract good COACHES and let the RTC worries go to someone else. You will lose an Eierman here or there, but you will likely win more at the NCAA level than you would chasing white whales on the recruiting trail and for your RTC. You also save the time suck of trying to raise $300K a year to keep your RTC functional.
Improving as a coach will win more championships than snagging a few transfers.
Q: What is the difference between an Olympic redshirt and a grayshirt? What is stopping someone not eligible for an Olympic redshirt from grayshirting and essentially doing the same thing? In both cases you are not enrolled at the school but still train there. Could someone just not enroll but train at the school's RTC before/after their freshman year and not lose eligibility since it's based on year/credits at school?
Foley: A grayshirt is taken BEFORE you start attending your chosen university and prevents your NCAA clock from starting on its five-year countdown. The Olympic redshirt can only be taken once you are in school and stops your clock for the season.
I'm not sure that scenario you mentioned can be achieved. The wrestler who waits out before joining only has that one year. They can certainly take a redshirt their freshman year, but their clock would have started. I guess if a wrestler grayshirted last year and was eligible/approved for an Olympic redshirt in 2020 they could delay their clock for two straight seasons. Thankfully I don't think that has happened (yet).
Q: What did you think of the officiating in Brady Berge's match where he was injured and why didn't the official stop the match? In the video I saw, he was clearly not defending himself, looked like a rag doll flopping around while his opponent was turning him, and then was clearly unconscious at the time of the fall. It's not like it all happened instantaneously either. There were two turns, and then Berge basically fell out of the turn onto his back. I am very curious why nothing was done to stop the match in the interest of safety.
-- Rich W.
Foley: First, I hope that Brady Berge is feeling better and that he was able to recover after what looked to be getting knocked unconscious. The Indian wrestler didn't have a clue anything was wrong and didn't look to have intentionally hurt Berge. He just wrestled until he was told to stop. Looked like Berge hit his forehead going in, or maybe the Indian wrestler tapped him on the temple with his knee when looking to circle around.
The referee is one of the best in the world (1S) and while I can't speak for her I'm sure that she feels terrible for not seeing that the wrestler was in danger. Maybe it was because of where she was positioned, but regardless the referees do care for the athletes and I'm sure she would have stopped the match should she have recognized he was injured. Interestingly, the mat chair and judge also didn't have a clear look at Berge's face due to him being at a 45-degree angle. They often stop those progression when there is an injured wrestler unbeknownst to the referee. Oddly even the challenge brick came in a bit late (though that could be for several reasons), which is sometimes how these things get caught. Overall, I'd chalk it up to a set of bad circumstances that unfortunately left Berge in a dangerous position for far too long.
The other note to make -- more for future reference -- is that if a wrestler loses consciousness because of impact to the head they are done for the tournament. If a wrestler is choked unconscious, then they are allowed to continue wrestling. Justification being that the latter is due to blood, not brain swelling.
Again, I hope he has recovered.
Yazdani The Greatest
Follow Snyderlaev Behind the Scenes at the World Championships!
Q: Mason Parris was dominant at the Junior World Championships this past summer. He had a strong start to his season, winning convincingly over Demetrius Thomas of Pitt and Matt Stencel of Central Michigan at the Michigan State Open. He was dominated by Anthony Cassar last season and also lost to Trent Hillger. But this year he seems to be much improved. Do you see Parris as a legit threat to contend for a heavyweight title this season?
-- Mike C.
Foley: Parris is fully capable of winning the national title in 2020. Coaching, wrestling partners and access to the bet competitions will mean he'll be ready in March. That's not to knock Cassar who is the favorite, but Parris has improved over the past year and I would expect he continues that steep curve throughout the season.
Demetrius Thomas is the man. Love watching that guy wrestle.
Q: Will Virginia knock off Arizona State this weekend? Care to give a prediction?
-- Mike C.
Foley: I don't know, but I had a few cocktails last week and through some combination of nostalgia and scotch found my way onto the U.Va. gear store and stocked up on goodies. Win or lose they are a solid squad with a nice future ahead. #WarMueller
J Jaggers coaching at the Michigan State Open (Photos/Sam Janicki, SJanickiPhoto.com)
Q: It seems like J Jaggers is a Buckeye through and through. He's played a big part in the program's success. Do you know if he has aspirations of becoming a head coach? If so, do you think he will ever get a shot to lead a Division I program?
-- Mike C.
Foley: Why not?! He's coaches national champions, is well-liked, dresses the part, and has studied under one of the best in the business. I do think he'll get a chance, but to be clear I wouldn't be surprised if he's not able to find that opportunity for a few years. The market is tight and competition is fierce. Going off to develop a program can often mean less money, time away from your family, and limited returns for the first several years. Coaching is a tough game.