I was honored to once again be part of the Semi-Final Preview Show at the WIN Memorabilia Show. During one of the segments, I mentioned that Iowa is going to have a very rough time of it getting back to the days of Gable.
One gentleman, in particular, took offense at my observation. He challenged me to defend my position regarding the Hawks.
Here’s what I told him:
Blame it on Dresser! No one disputes Kevin’s ability to coach or recruit as witnessed by what he did with a non-existent program at Virginia Tech. And given what he’s in the process of doing at Iowa State, he’s going to plow through the recruiting fields who have, for the last 30 years, been the exclusive property of the Hawks.
Granted, Iowa is a wonderfully powerful state to recruit in, but with 1/3rd the number of high school programs a person can find in Ohio, PA, NJ or NY, the law of percentages dictates that sharing the spoils with the Cyclones doesn’t bode well for either program.
And, given that, South Dakota State is doing an exceptional job northwest of the border with Iowa, and the Golden Gophers working hard to keep a majority of their state’s faithful local, it’s simply a mathematical certainty that the Hawks aren’t going to sign as many blue chippers as before.
Sure, they landed Lee this past season from Pennsylvania, but I would imagine they wouldn’t have if the Suriano story would have played out sooner than it did.
In summary, I could be wrong here, but it’s my contention that most athletes would rather wrestle within a 200-mile radius of home especially if they could stay local while being a part of a Top 10 program with quality coaching and a competitive wrestling room.
Right now, most of these programs are in the east; Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, VA Tech, NC State, Lehigh, Cornell, with a list that is larger than what I just mentioned. So why would kids want to travel to the heartland of America to compete?
Add to that, the shining star that was Iowa isn’t quite as bright as it once was. So, for them to just maintain what they’re currently doing, Tom and Terry are going to have to work even harder. And that’s difficult when they’re already living, eating and sleeping wrestling.
What I was and am trying to point out is everything is a numbers game, and that doesn’t bode well for the mid-west now that the east coast is thriving. I wish it were different because parity is always a good thing.
As a side note, for those who remember the good old days when Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Iowa State and Iowa were constantly Top 5 programs, these four teams only had a grand total of 1 finalist at this year’s NCAA tournament and he was actually from PA. And to add insult to injury, if you combined all four of those schools into one super team, they wouldn’t have finished in the Top 5 in Cleveland.
Thank you, Joe McFarland. I sincerely hope that retirement agrees with you. As many coaches find, being able to walk away from a career that has demanded so much of your time is tough. But I’m sure you’ll have the time to figure it out, that’s what winners do. Thank you for your service to the sport we all love, you were one of the best – job well done.
I don’t know if I should love or hate the NCAA and ESPN? How both organizations have elevated our championships over the years can only be described as amazingly transformative. Lights, camera, action, the tournament is now a complete show, with wrestling the winner. Well done everyone.
On the hate side, people who witnessed the event in person or from the comfort of their couches, certainly walked away thinking wonderful thoughts about the sport. The arena was more than packed, and this is the first year that tickets were actually as scare as hen’s teeth.
All this is a good news/bad news scenario. The good is that scalpers were actually able to get upwards of a thousand dollars per ticket denoting genuine product demand, actually proving the sport can carry the day as a business, if given the chance. The bad news is that wrestling is not being given the chance. Wrestling’s leadership, not the NCAA or ESPN, is the problem. They’re day to day business of incompetency is still astounding.
I’m sorry, I just refuse to give those who are “calling the shots” any credit for what the NCAA and ESPN just did and where the sport isn’t right now. Man’s oldest sport, a program that makes men, winners, doers, achievers out of young adults, the only sport that activity accepts, encourages and embraces both males and females, all forms of alternative lifestyles not to mention every conceivable form of handicaps; from blindness to birth defects, from deafness to amputees. There’s nothing like our sport, it’s a complete microcosm of life.
And as witnessed by the meteoric rise of the UFC, if leadership thought differently, and decided to embrace scoring rather than encouraging and legislating inaction, we’d be right up there with the NBA, NFL and Major League Baseball.
What a job the referees did. I was blessed, at one time, to referee the NCAA’s myself so I know how tough the job is, and I’m pretty damned good at evaluating performances. And the best of the best we have today are so much more comfortable in their skins than those who preceded them. There’s a relaxed nature about these men, oozing confidence and a comfortableness not seem before. Their mechanics are clear, deliberate, and smooth. Overall, I give them an A+, I can’t say I saw any call in Cleveland where I thought, “they have to reverse that.”
The city did a wonderful job. Cleveland opened their hearts to us. The arena staff was second to none in kindness and willingness to help. Other than it being damn cold with the wind whipping off the lake, I left with a new-found appreciation for the city and its people.
Intermat . . . If you want to know almost anything about the NCAA’s or wrestling in general, go to intermatwrestle.com. There you’ll find solid observations, opinions and viewpoints from some great writers. They do a tremendous job, especially their Senior Writer, Mark Palmer.
High School Numbers . . . as an aside to all the wonderful things we saw in Cleveland, since the 1970’s, our high school numbers have dropped 32% when the population of America grew by 34%. That means scholastic wrestling is one half the size it once was when Lee Kemp and Dave Schultz wrestled.
Currently we’re at 244,000 when we should be at 477,000 if we just maintained our numbers. And God only knows how many wrestlers we’d have, and how many forfeits we wouldn’t see if we were even remotely popular.
So when you hear that wrestling is a growing sport and doing well, be sure to remind the person that numbers say otherwise.
Is USA Wrestling Predatory?
Once upon a time there were clearly defined lines regarding the various wrestling seasons. Mid-October to the middle of March was always reserved for folkstyle competition. Then from April to the end of summer the international styles took center stage.
But in the last 20 or so years things began to move from black and white to various shades of grey while USAWrestling started becoming increasingly emboldened with their programming schedule.
Instead of having clearly defined seasons, the international side has been steadily encroaching into the folkstyle season and its programming. This is obviously good for Colorado Springs but if you like folkstyle, alarm bells should be sounding.
Now I’m not trying to influence anyone’s opinions here, but I did want to make sure that everyone understands what’s taking place by mentioning that USAWrestling is not a fan of the NCAA or the National High School Federation. They might claim to be but if they’re in business, which they are, then by definition the other two organizations are the competition; each one controlling roughly 1/3rd of wrestling’s base of power and revenue production.
Now I realize that some of you might find this blog illuminating while others shrug their shoulders. Personally, I enjoy both our international programs and domestic style of wrestling but I’m not crazy about losing folkstyle without a fight.
Wade, really, you need to get a grip here.
Well maybe, but maybe not. I just happen to believe that USAWrestling is quietly, methodically and deliberately expanding their corporate reach into folkstyle; and it’s wrong.
My supporting evidence; it wasn’t too long ago that Colorado Springs decided for our colleges and universities that the newly formed women’s movement should compete in freestyle. And now they are.
So, why was freestyle chosen instead of folkstyle? Because the National High School Association and the NCAA shrugged their shoulders regarding the women. They were wrong then, and I’m afraid to say it, but it appears they were also intolerant of the movement which is why Title IX got started in the first place.
But either way USAWrestling saw an opportunity and jumped on it with both feet and may I say more power to them while adding; shame on the countries folkstyle leaders.
But still, for those who love folkstyle, be forewarned, Colorado Springs is quietly displacing our domestic style of wrestling. And if that’s okay with everyone, then so be it. But for those who enjoy the entertainment value of the state high school championships and the NCAA’s, you’d better notice there’s a paradigm shift taking place.
And I also happen to believe if USAWrestling could, and not catch hell over it, they’d eliminate folkstyle tomorrow.
You might think that statement is ridiculous.
But it isn’t if you look at it from a business perspective. USAWrestling has bills to pay and programs to run. The faster they grow; the more revenue they generate, the greater their power base becomes.
And I happen to agree with their vision, there’s nothing wrong with Rich and company growing their presence and trying to control the marketplace in the same way that companies like Google and Amazon are busy trying to control their slice of the American pie. It’s just business as usual with competing forces at play.
And here’s the point I’m trying to make; you need to be aware this is taking place. So when that day comes you can’t say, “I never saw it coming.”
Now, if you’d ask USAW about their future goals they would vehemently deny any interest in such a silly notion. But again, if they’re a business, and they are, isn’t the NCAA and the National High School Association an impediment to their growth?
Maybe I should start at the beginning and dip into this objectively. If both the NHSA and the NCAA discontinued their interest in wrestling, would the sport disappear?
No, not even close. It would just morph into the type of programming that every country in the world has except America; city and town based international wrestling clubs, each with their athletes and coaches holding USAWrestling membership cards. The sport wouldn’t disappear, it would just transform itself from having three major governing bodies to just one which happens to be headquartered in Colorado Springs.
That would effectively move USAW’s athlete membership numbers from roughly 160k to 700k while quadrupling the number of coaches who carry their cards. That would effectively raise Colorado Springs annual budget from 16 million to over 50 million while tripling the salaries, and power base of their executives, coaching staffs and state leadership teams. So, anyone, why wouldn’t they want this to happen?
And just to ask a question, “if USAWrestling was so supportive of our folkstyle programs, how come they haven’t contributed one dime to the sports battle with Title IX, something that is completely a folkstyle issue. I believe you can figure that out on your own.
Again, I’m not writing this to say “how dare they”, I’m just pointing out there’s a danger here for those who love folkstyle.
More recently, Colorado Springs has begun taking redshirted collegians overseas during the folkstyle season for competition. This is easily justified, “they’re redshirting, why not provide them with some quality competition during the year?”
And that makes sense but buyer beware, this is just another crack in the dyke, an intrusion into the business of folkstyle.
Come on Wade, that’s silly.
Not really. Once a group or organization gets a footprint inside the opposition’s camp, the story of the Trojan Horse comes to mind.
If any of you still think I’m off base here or over blowing something that doesn’t exist, how do you explain Kyle Snyder? USAWrestling is not only encouraging him, but more importantly allowing him to travel abroad in the middle of the collegiate season.
This is so wrong on the face of it. USAWrestling isn’t paying for his education, Ohio State is and the Buckeyes expect him to be present for competition. Or at least they should expect that.
But this is Kyle’s decision you say. Well, maybe it is, maybe it shouldn’t be. I know what those who are supporters of our international effort are saying, but they’re wrong. USAWrestling should know better, they should have and then honor a “hands-off” policy regarding collegiate athletes during the collegiate season. But the fact that they don’t should speak volumes about they’re intentions.
As an aside here . . . I wonder if Kyle would have majored Nevills to defeat Penn State had he not just returned from Russia or not lost to Coon the following weekend? He looked more than tired, and he wrestled that way.
Now for my Penn State and Michigan friends, I’m not trying discount that both Nevills and Coon aren’t two of the best big men in America. Nor am I trying to downgrade their performances, but rather point out something that anyone who has ever watched Kyle wrestle already knows . . . when he’s fresh, he’s the best in the world.
Maybe we should ask USAW what they would think if the NCAA voted to expand the collegiate season into the Spring and early summer months?
It’s no secret that USAWrestling would like to control wrestling and have folkstyle disappear all-together. And they’re not wrong, they’re in business. What CEO doesn’t want to expand their reach by overwhelming the competition?
It’s just that folkstyle had better get their heads out of the sand and realize they’re in a fight.
Russia’s At It Again
It’s actually laughable. The Winter Olympics are now over and of all the competitors who were in South Korea, from every continent on the planet, only two of them tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. Want to take a guess what country they were from? Good old Team OAR (Olympic Athletes of Russia).
Wow, they really learned their lesson from Sochi and Rio. I can only imagine how livid the leadership of the IOC must be at having to once again wipe egg off of their faces. They bent over backwards to give the Russians a 37th chance at getting their house in order, or was it their 72nd; I’ve lost count.
When is the IOC going to learn what the rest of the world knows, the Russians are not to be trusted; whether in sports, on the floor of the United Nations or with America’s uranium.
They unlevel any playing field they participate on and when caught bending the rules they just smile and give you a stoic what’s your point look.
The fact of the matter is they can’t win without cheating as witnessed by the number of medals their “clean” athletes didn‘t bring home.
I guess their promise of being “squeaky clean” in South Korea doesn’t mean what it used to and for a penalty, the IOC did the unthinkable. They didn’t allow them to carry their countries flag in the closing ceremonies.
That ought to teach them a lesson.