Foley's Friday Mailbag: June 8, 2012
T.R. Foley, InterMat Senior Writer
firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @trfoley
InterMat senior writer T.R. Foley answers reader questions about NCAA wrestling, international wrestling, recruiting, or anything loosely related to wrestling. You have until Thursday night every week to send questions to Foley's Twitter or email account.
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Q: Thinking of entering a tourney after six years away from competition. Good or bad idea?
Foley: How old are you? Do you have health insurance? Can you train at full speed? If you answered: Younger than thirty, YES, and YES, then you should take up cycling.
If you want to compete in wrestling after college then you need to try out jiu-jitsu. The sport is just wrestling with a few finishing holds and way less cardiovascular work. Technique, patience, strategy, and trickery outperform brute strength, meaning you have a level playing field with guys of all sizes. Plus you have an advantage on the other newbies because you've wrestled in the past.
I've been training and competing for 18 months and love the way I feel. I can honestly say I've never felt healthier. I'm addicted. In fact just before I headed to the Grapple in the Apple, I took time to visit five-time BJJ World champion Marcelo Garcia. I got WHIPPED, but it was an excellent learning experience. Check out this video below. Even a guy with immense talent like Ben Askren has found that wrestling is no match for Garcia's superior technique.
With a gi versus Jake Shields ...
But the real benefit is the emotional connection you can make at a jiu-jitsu school. I know "how sweet?" But being a part of something larger is what drives humanity, and jiu-jitsu schools are little clans of athletes who genuinely care for each other. My teammates at Valko BJJ in Chicago are about my same age as me with similar goals, which keeps me interested in attending class. Compare an adult BJJ school to visiting a high school or college wrestling room, where you share little in common with the social life of an 18-year-old, and you'll see the benefit of making friends when you wrestle. The guys at Valko BJJ were some of my biggest supporters when I traveled to wrestle in Mongolia. After being gone three months I missed those guys so much that I literally got off a 14-hour flight from Beijing and took a taxi directly to the 6 p.m. class.
If you want healthy and sustainable I'd say train and compete in BJJ. If you want to see if you still have "IT" then by all means hit the mats. Just try and remember to HAVE FUN ... and buy supplemental insurance.
Q: The University of Minnesota has had a history of some pretty solid heavyweight wrestlers: Vern Gagne, Brock Lesner, Cole Konrad, and now hopefully Tony Nelson. While Cole seems to have been the most dominant at heavyweight for a longer period, Tony is quite young and has two more years to go. Brock only wrestled at the University of Minnesota for two years and is all over the program's record books. And let's just say that Vern Gagne was no slouch!! So my question is ... Who wins in a round-robin tourney between the four of these beasts?
-- Tom G.
Foley: I liked watching Tony Nelson wrestle this season. He's the type of heavyweight most coaches seem to want recently -- tall, athletic and with lean-ish muscle mass. Nelson's build is a little like two-time NCAA champion Tommy Rowlands, though I do think he's considerably heavier. What works in college wrestling, especially at heavyweight, will always be changing and like we've seen in MMA, more maneuverability, flexibility and power are essential to success.
The newest heavyweight prototype might be a guy like Northwestern's Mike McMullan, who placed third this season as a freshman and weighed AT BEST 240 pounds. "Glasses and Muscles" (greatest nickname in wrestling?) can scramble with strength. He also has sneaky setups to leg attacks, where despite his size, he seems to finish with consistency.
All that said, I think you have to take Cole Konrad. He's too massive and much, much too talented!
Q: What do you think of Steve Mocco heading into MMA? How do you think he'll do?
Foley: I'll keep it brief because Mocco has never fought. I met Conan Silveira, the heavyweight coach at ATT in Coconut Creek. If the article I read was true, that ATT made him a respectable financial offer, then I'm trusting Conan's judgment was that he could MAKE MONEY OFF MOCCO. To do that they must think he can win fights. I'd like to see him take at least four fights in the next calendar year then get an invite to the Bellator tourney, or if he feels marketable and the timing is right possibly push him over to the UFC where he can be serviceable.
The parting wisdom on this comes from Rob Koll. We were having a debate about the technical maturation of wrestling over time and if a guy like Gable could technically hang with comparable athletes of this generation (assuming we have better techniques, training methods, breadth of experience). He made the point that winners win, no matter the generation. Gable, or Lee Kemp, any champion wrestler of the past would be able to come into modern-day world and adapt -- winning is a mindset and a habit. Mocco KNOWS how to win and win on the biggest stage and there is not much of a reason to think he won't be able to adapt his winner's mentality to his new endeavor.
I've always been a big fan and can't wait to see what he does in the cage.
Q: Rumor is that Atlanta is putting in a bid for 2015, and the Georgia Dome would the location. What are your thoughts? What are the chances this goes through?
-- Chase V.
Foley: I LOVE the idea that we can go to the NCAA tournament in a city that doesn't serve fried ravioli. Don't flip out. I enjoy some St. Louis, but some time in the Deep South might do well for wrestling fans and all those fake tanners from Ohio State won't look as silly walking around the lobby of their hotel ... to be fair, there are others out there (look to State College).
What wrestling needs is consistency. Put us in the same city every year so that we can build a habit out of the tourney. Like Omaha hosting the College World Series for NCAA baseball we could make Atlanta (or Pittsburgh, or Dallas, or ...) THE HOME OF COLLGE WRESTLING! WE could build statues and erect monuments. It's an enormous revenue source for a city so there is little chance they'd deny the consistent income, though I think that some cities hedge because they might also want to host a round of NCAA basketball, also a moneymaker.
WE are waiting on the NCAA committee to make an announcement. It's just a rumor, but I've been told that coming off the success of releasing a bracket every 30 for FIVE HOURS, the NCAA is considering hosting a hangman competition where we get to guess the letters that make up the name of the host city. One letter a day for a minimum of 14 days. STAY TUNED!
Q: Battle of the Batmen Tournament Edition: Val Kilmer vs. Michael Keaton and George Clooney vs. Christan Bale?
-- D. Thompkins
Foley: Let's first agree that you are everyone's hero for creating a format that we will be using from here-forward. Is it me or are there several movie franchises that have several actors playing the same role? Even the following Part 1 Breakdown of Batman will have to add another name in a few years -- Christian Bale is done after the "The Dark Knight Rises". (Who is the next Batman? Jon Hamm? Ryan Gosling? The part is going to be changed drastically and likely mirror some future angst in pop culture.) In addition to Batman we could debate the various Spidermen and Hulks. If we branch out we can analyze the various Bonds, or even Jack Ryan. The rumor WAS that Matt Damon had been replaced as Jason Bourne in the Bourne series of movies, but he wasn't. Instead the next Bourne is about the OTHER rogue asset from Blackbriar played by Jeremy Renner. When will the movies start remaking dramatic films every three years? Is it too soon to start the remake of Atonement? What about comedies? Could we remake Step Brothers with Aziz Ansari and Kal Penn? If you went down that rabbit hole, what would be considered off limits? What is the timeframe before a studio produces a remake?
As to your original question and the establishment of the tournament; it seems, have seeded this tournament, which means you think it's (1)Kilmer, (4)Keaton, (2)Clooney and (3)Bale? I'm not going to argue -- it is YOUR question. But you should never be asked to seed the NCAA tournament. EVER.
For this mailbag I'll focus on just the first matchup. The Grapple in the Apple is about to start and I gotta Tweet some results!
Val Kilmer's best role was as Jim Morrison in the movie "The Doors." Don't try to argue for his role as Slider in "Top Gun" because all he did there was spike his hair, chomp his teeth and play beach volleyball in jeans. With "The Doors", Kilmer made us all think (NAY, BELIEVE!!) he could be the next great character actor in Hollywood -- a blonde Daniel Day-Lewis, a half-sane Mickey Rourke, a sober Robert Downey Jr. Five years later we'd all be left shaking our head.
Before Batman, but after "The Doors," Kilmer took sweaty, pasty misogynist Cowboy to a new level by portraying the TB-ridden, heavy-drinking and sharp-shooting Doc Holliday in Tombstone as a lovable and loyal partner to Wyatt Earp. ("I'll be your Huckleberry" is being quoted in wrestling rooms right now.)
What seemed like a budding career then met "Batman Forever."
AWFUL. That movie was so bad that it made my brother leave me in the theater to finish it by myself as he cruised Stafford County Virginia in his special edition 1978 Camaro Z28. Perhaps it's the scar from seeing my ride leave me at the movie theater, or it was having to sit through the obnoxious, unwatchable cat-shrill that is Chris O'Donnell but "Batman Forever" FOREVER broke my bond to Val Kilmer. Or right up until "MacGruber" -- a top ten funniest SNL-adapted movie.
Somehow Kilmer got your top seed while Michael Keaton dropped to the fourth seed. I have to start with my Michael Keaton disclaimer, that all-but jeopardizes my legitimacy as an impartial observer. His movie "The Paper" convinced me to stay in journalism instead of going to work in sports PR. I could've been massaging some big athlete's ego, or screaming at some local sports reporter for asking questions about his personal life, but instead I'm with the men and women that matter most -- wrestling fans.
There was nothing innately inspirational about the story in "The Paper", but it as strong message during a time of weakness (What if instead I'd flipped over to "Jerry Maguire"?) had six weeks left in grad school and I was seeing the financial implications of becoming a journalist and weighing that against living in California and attending yoga studios with my multi-million dollar athletes. I thought I'd like to drive a convertible and maybe get it valeted at a nice sushi restaurant. Anyways that never happened because I sat and watched a bunch of dialogue between Keaton, Glenn Close (my favorite), Marissa Tomei, Robert Duvall and Randy Quaid. Almost none of it was going to be applicable to me, a guy headed to online and magazine journalism (Again, the movie is called, wait for it ... "The Paper," but I'm a sucker for determination and journalistic ethics, so when Keaton's character saves the lives of the two boys being set up for murder I decided to stick out the journalism thing for a while. At least until I make my millions writing a book about fey teenage vampires.
Keaton's career ALSO took a hit after his failed role in Batman. (Save his performance in "The Paper.") Seems there might be a Batman curse. Keaton's Batman was stale next to Jack Nicholson's Joker. ("Never rub another man's rhubarb!") Batman felt hokey from the opening credits, but it was the FIRST major attempt at the series, so some leeway has to be given for having spawned an entire multi-billion dollar franchise. I guess in some way you have to give the credit to Keaton for that. Also, Keaton KILLS in "The Other Guys." Don't go chasing waterfalls.
Keaton dec. Kilmer, 6-1.
The only movie that matters this summer ...
Love is Blindness.