Willie's Friday Mailbag: August 27th, 2021

Penn State's Bryce Jordan Arena (Photo/Sam Janicki;

It's a rather slow time of year. In between Cadet Worlds, Tokyo, and Junior Worlds, there is a lull right now before we all ramp up for World Team Trials.

Most of the questions that I've received asked about Trials predictions. We'll get to that. Next week, you'll be inundated with analysis for the Trials on InterMat, MatScouts, and probably every other wrestling media outlet.

So I'll hold off till then. In the meantime, there were two major news spikes to perk up our ears during an otherwise period in wrestling.

The first was Tulsa's new President, Brad Carson, responding to a report that Tulsa was considering adding wrestling, perhaps for both women and men. Carson attended The University of Virginia and has a Senior Associate Athletic Director, Brian Scislo, that coached wrestling at Ohio University. After our Big 12 Correspondent, Seth Duckworth, broke the news, wrestling aficionados flooded Carson's inboxes and timelines with positive messages on the value and virtues of wrestling.

Carson responded thusly:

I don't know if Tulsa will start wrestling programs. But what I do know is that I'm proud of the wrestling community. That's the way to advocate and that's the way to communicate.

A few days later, report came out via discussing Penn State's need to satisfy proportionality requirements; PSU has 15 women's sports and 16 men's teams.

Some wrestling fans showed support, but probably not to the level they did for Tulsa. The prospect of women's wrestling at Penn State makes a lot of sense. It's a wrestling-crazed state, has a huge, national brand, and is in a location that makes traveling to competitions easy and cost-effective (Lock Haven, which already began a women's program, is 20 minutes up the road).

But Penn State could also be the snowball that begins an avalanche of movement by major universities bringing women's programs to life.

Several major schools - from Oklahoma State to most of the Ivies - have basically indicated that it was only a matter of time. Someone - some blue blood wrestling power or some academic monolith - is going to be the first major school to launch the sport. Why not PSU?

We have to strike now. We have to use the momentum (and social media buzz) that our Olympians just provided for us. Women wrestlers can be college stars. And their performance in Tokyo exceeded almost all other women's sports by every metric: success, social media visibility, and television coverage. Tamyra Mensah was featured at SummerSlam, people!

Write to Athletic Director Sandy Barbour.

Tweet at her: @SandyB_PSUAD

Let your voices be heard.

This Week's questions:

Why do international wrestling venues refuse to get normal mats instead of tarps? It looks 2nd class; like a high school dual in the 60's. - @redblackwrestlr

Yes. Yes, it does look 2nd class. And I hate it.

You'll often hear that some wrestlers like the feel of those tarps better. But, let's be real - the actual issue is that they are much cheaper both in terms of materials and shipping (to far-flung places such as Ufa, Russia).

UWW has done an outstanding job at elevating the level of presentation at World events. You can see it on the stream, and it's even more impressive in person. It's obvious that a lot of work goes into it and that it is a point of emphasis. So I don't think the tarp-mat decision is one that isn't deliberated on.

Remember that UWW mats underwent wholesale changes over the past six or seven years. There's not a ton of regular UWW-specific mats floating around across the world.

I can't believe I'm doing this right now, but, let's go back a few years. This is since the new orange/blue scheme was implemented:

2021, Tokyo - Tarps
2019, Nur Sultan - Tarps
2018, Budapest - Tarps
2017, Paris - Mats
2016, Rio - Tarps
2015, Las Vegas - Mats

Perhaps it's a decision of the host nation. Perhaps it's as simple as availability. If I were to guess, I'd imagine that you'll continue to see tarps sometimes, but that as more and more UWW Orange/Blue mats are produced, their usage will go up.

Now that I tackled that hard-hitting, controversial question…

"Will the Big Ten Pac 12 ACC alliance thing have any major impact on wrestling or just a couple duals between the conferences here and there?" @oldestgreatest

It's more difficult to get Dems & Republicans to agree on something on Capitol Hill than it is to get college coaches on the same page.

There were some significant talks about an ACC - Big Ten challenge type thing in wrestling this year among coaches. But hell will freeze over before anything official, requiring all Big Ten programs to participate, would be passed.

There's only one thing mandatory - conference championships. And that ain't changing anytime soon.

If college wrestling were to add an 11th weight where should it be? @jagger712

I hate this question. 1) Because I think college has it nailed perfectly and 2) because it's going to make me reconsider a previous take.

That being said, an 11th weight is a good (best) problem solver for a tied dual.

As the nature of wrestling currently is and considering the talent of those who participate, if you're forcing me to add an 11th weight, I'd want to spend it on another weight within the current first five. Something like this: 124-130-137-142-150.

But here's where I am reconsidering…

I've always said adding a 215/220 is totally idiotic. And it is. There's absolutely no need for it other than a few outlying tweeners. If you weigh 215, you can cut down or bulk up. You're fine. Just like every other freakin' weight class. If you disagree, go cry me a river.

Plus, adding 215/220 would just dilute the already uninspiring depth at 197 and 285. You'd be making two ho-hum weight classes three really eye-rolling weight classes. This is not about the size of the average male. It's about the size of the average talent and adjusting for the general population would do nothing but make the sport worse.
Now - that being said…

I think we're seeing a lot more athletes stick with wrestling and becoming stars rather than play DIII football. Should that trend continue, I'd be more than open to revisiting the discussion down the road. 125-133-141-149-158-168-178-190-215-285

Do you think head coaches need to look outside their program to hire at least 1 assistant? I use OK state as an example. Everyone on staff wrestled for John. Not saying they aren't good coaches, just maybe an outside perspective couldn't hurt. - @jferg24

No. You crazy? First, let's use your example. Oklahoma State has at least four guys on their staff that are DI head coach material. Espo's been tutored by John W. for two decades now. Chris Perry should single-handedly made AJ Ferrari's title become a reality. And Tyler Caldwell is the best young recruiter in the entire country.

But let's venture outside of OK State. Iowa, Penn State, Ohio State…
All have had very few coaching changes.

Outside perspective is very, very helpful. And some programs should look to bring new voices in. But don't force it.

Ok, fine, I'll do one WTT question…

Who is most likely to shock us all at WTT's? - @matsquatch3

Ryan Deakin. The guy always plays with our emotions.

He's had a full summer of both getting healthy and getting fresh looks at RTC's all around the country.


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Pete Hallman (1) about 2 months ago
Don’t know about the 130 weight class. We’d see a lot less talent at 125 if 130 is available.
Glad to see the mailbag return.
2xTCAA (1) about 2 months ago
Absolutely LOVE THIS! The problem is that it make WAY too much sense for the NCAA to even consider it. Especially because the big D-1 schools would cry about increasing the scholarship limit shich would tank it right there. But I love it for at least the D-3/JuCo levels.
coolbeans (1) about 2 months ago
125 - 131 - 138 - 145 - 152 - 160 - 170 - 182 - 197 - HWT
No 215 OR 220 at all ! Are you kidding? HWT is already boring enough.

All the best wrestlers are bunched up at 125, 133 and 141. Look how many great wrestlers are eliminated in the first 3 weights