Willie's Friday Mailbag: May 21st, 2021

Shane Griffith and the Stanford staff (Photo/Tony Rotundo;

Stanford was saved. What a relief. And a surprise. Throughout the campaign to reinstate the program, I watched with a massive appreciation for their efforts but also with very little optimism.

There's one reason programs get dropped: poor budget management by today's athletic departments, who themselves have bloated rosters. And to reverse the decision to drop would mean admitting yet another massive mistake for an administration already mired in controversy.

Kind of a miracle. But my message this week is to not depend on the whims of increasingly cruel and incompetent athletic departments. Just 165 miles from Stanford, there's another war to win to save Fresno State. And again, I'm pessimistic.

The time to endow your wrestling program was 15 years ago. If you haven't started, do so now. The only way to insulate our 78 DI wrestling programs is to remove all administrative second-guessing and fund it ourselves.

There's been a proliferation of public, online fundraising campaigns for DI wrestling programs, and thanks to you, the fans, they've been a massive success. Wrestling programs often outpace any other sports in program donations at many schools. The contributions can go to many things - mats, facilities, travel budget, etc. But coaches would be wise to put much of that into an endowment fund or to seek out more prominent donors to get one started.

It's unfortunate that our coaches and programs must take on that burden. But if there is any group built to shoulder it, it's us. We'll do it ourselves.

To your questions...

FANTASTIC news from Stanford this week! Whom do you think they will look at for the head coaching position? - @TopicNext

When there is a coaching vacancy, we often come up with lists of viable candidates. However, I've never endorsed a particular guy. I've never wanted to offend any of the contenders and suggest they aren't the right pick.

I'll start now, though. Ray Blake should be the pick and I think going in any different direction would only add insult to what has been a mess.

Alumni? Longest tenured coach on staff? Fought through the chopping block?

Blake checks all those boxes. He's also highly respected in many circles, including but not limited to his native Chicago, which also happens to be hallowed recruiting grounds.

He's both the qualified and the sentimental choice. Could you imagine Stanford putting the program on the chopping block, seeing their former Head Coach Jason Borrelli leave for American, reinstating the program, and then choosing someone who wasn't around for the fight? And oh-by-the-way, the staff produced an NCAA champ.

This is a lay-up.

Why don't you answer your phone? - @NookieBrown22

Everyone yells at me for not answering my phone! Probably for good reason.

I hate talking on the phone. It's always on silent. Maybe it's a character flaw or something, but I'm the polar opposite of most people today who are glued to their phones.

It's not that I'm any 'better.' I'm glued to a computer screen. Send an email. Immediate response, I promise.

Will a team other than Iowa, Penn State, Ohio State, and Oklahoma State win a title in the next 20 years, and if yes, who? - @RichardAMann

Frankly, I don't think so. It would probably take a perfect storm and it would have to come in a year when team scoring was historically low - like a team title with sub 100pts.

Since 2000, 16 of the 21 team champs scored over 115pts. Ohio State, with 102 to Iowa's 84, was the last to win it with less.

Since 2010, the only schools (other than those you listed) to reach runner-up status were Minnesota in '12 and '14 and Cornell in '11 and '10.

In recent years your 'Big 4' have been recruiting lights out. It would probably take an odd, down year for one of them and the pinnacle performance from a Michigan, Minnesota, NC State, Cornell, or ASU.

Thoughts on 3 sport athletes as it impacts their recruiting. - @christanadeau2

Personally, I love multi-sport athletes as wrestling recruits. You're right, though; it's tricky.
The advantages of a multi-sport athlete are many: 1) they haven't maxed out their abilities, 2) they aren't 'overcoached,' 3) they haven't spent years in the same grueling positions that often exacerbate joint damage.

This is all to say they offer 'upside.' The tricky part is - when you're a part-time wrestler, it's much tougher to have a good performance at the majors - Super 32, Fargo, Trials. You have to do just enough to catch the attention of coaches and scouts, who then must also recognize your situation.

Top 5 or so tournaments kids should go to if they want to wrestle in college and raise their value to recruiters. Is it different based on the grade they are in? - @dmax189

Keep in mind that almost all top recruiters get their guys - and top recruits commit - before their senior year. So we're talking about entering tournaments through the summer after their junior season.

Super 32, Fargo, USA PreSeason and Folk Nationals, and NHSCA's. In-season is obviously restrictive based on geography and other factors, but both recruiting evaluators and college coaches are much better than, say, ten years ago, at finding all the video and results from smaller in-season tournaments. You don't have to be from Blair Academy to get noticed.

That being said, if you're a DI level recruit (or aspire to be), make sure your high school coach gets your team into a Doc B (California) or Keith Young Invitational (Iowa). A Minnesota Christmas Tournament or Knockout (Florida).

For a more thorough list and recommendations based on your location, feel free to email me at

When do you recommend a kid commit to a college if he is not set from childhood on going to anyone specific. - @dmax189

Only when he/she is 100% sure. There's really very little rush. If you've proven your value, you're not going to be short on options and you probably aren't going to lose scholarship value.

There are instances where college coaches say, 'this offer expires on X date.' And that's not a mean thing to do. They need to plan and budget. But with the portal comes a release of funds, so schools will have more options than in the past.

Is it ok to record the conversations you have with recruiters? I hear some say one thing to get you then change when you arrive sometimes. @dmax189

Don't do that. Ever. -signed, every college coach in America

The parent of a high profile (Cadet World Team Member), recently intimated something similar - about confirming offers. In particular, the parent was wondering if there should be a formal scholarship offer before using one of your official visits.

There are some horror stories out there, and these are good questions to ask, but it's paranoia. You handle things on your end - winning, working, continuing to improve and being a good person - and all will be well.

Furthermore, I'd be a little skeptical of a coach extending an offer without significant conversations and/or meeting first. A good coach wants to know what type of person and character he's bringing into his family.


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ban basketball (1) about a month ago
"Is it ok to record the conversations you have with recruiters? I hear some say one thing to get you then change when you arrive sometimes. @dmax189"

I'm not an attorney, and nor have I ever tried to play an attorney on the internet or in the classroom, but, as my boss-who IS an attorney-has said to me for over twenty years: nothing's legal and/or an obligation until you've got a signature on a bottom line.

Wise words that I've lived by for a while now.
ban basketball (1) about a month ago
"Will a team other than Iowa, Penn State, Ohio State, and Oklahoma State win a title in the next 20 years, and if yes, who? - @RichardAMann"

Willie's answer is pretty much what I'd say as well, but I'd also add that what we often call an, "up and coming program" (or, a program on the skids) is usually temporary. "Up and coming programs" can usually be translated as, "they're doing great right now, due to the recruits that they have, but once those recruits are gone, the team begins declining a bit." The opposite can almost always be said for "programs on the skids."
PTG (1) about a month ago
Depending on the jurisdiction, recording a telephone conversation without consent of the other party may be a criminal offense.
Getyourpoints (1) about a month ago
We stall have 5 team spots still open at the Christmas Tournament.
ban basketball (2) about a month ago
A wrestling Freudian slip.
dbestsport (1) about a month ago
Will a team other than Iowa, Penn State, Ohio State, and Oklahoma State win a title in the next 20 years?

If you asked that question 20 years ago you would not have included Penn State or Ohio State.
I think Cornell, NC State, Arizona State (again), and Missouri can make it happen.
Maybe not a 3 or 4 year run like the top schools are capable of, but certainly for a season.
I also think as a sport, we need to see more schools at the top.
Cali_nittany (1) about a month ago
I competely disagree. Penn State should win every year.
owenst (1) about a month ago
Logical choice is the team that has 8x National Championships and the most Olympic gold medalist of any school...ISU.
ban basketball (1) about 3 weeks ago
Not sure you're right on that one. The Sqwawkers had five gold medalists, just as ISU has, but Oklahoma State has eleven gold medalists, and that's not counting multiple golds won by some of their guys.