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NCAA DI TOURNEY - WHY?? #228533 03/20/14 02:20 PM
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Mitch Beims Offline OP
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I love sports and been to many sporting events. One of my all-time favorite events to ever attend is the NCAA Division I National Wrestling Championships. But why have wrestling's greatest spectacle on the opening weekend of March Madness? Not only are young kids still wrestling all over the nation, but you are competing for viewers, etc. during our countries most watched sporting event other than the Super Bowl. This is dumb and bad for our sport. I know some will reply and just bad mouth basketball and that's fine, but if you are really into promoting our sport, the decision to have our sports' "Super Bowl" this weekend is ridiculous.

Re: NCAA DI TOURNEY - WHY?? [Re: Mitch Beims] #228565 03/20/14 09:41 PM
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Mitch:

Actually you have a very famous wrestler and now coach who agrees with you at least he did six years ago. Read below something that Cael Sanderson was advocating for six years ago especially what he is advocating for in the first item he listed. He advocates for changing the wrestling season and pretty much for exactly the same reason that you stating in this topic you introduced. Cael had some other suggestions too. I would be interested in knowing if his views are the same in 2014.


Here are the changes that I saw Cael Sanderson advocate on his website in his Ask the Professor question section:

4/10/2008
Bill(Des Moines, IA): As a long time fan of wrestling I constantly bring friends to meets to try and turn them into wrestling fans. I've thought for a while that our sport needs to make some changes to make it easier to follow. I'm interested in your opinion and any suggestions you have?
Cael: "Bill, I agree that we need to make some changes. It really blows my mind that a regular season college basketball game gets more viewers then an event like the Big 12 Wrestling Finals. If it didn't our Big 12 Finals would be on tv live instead of the game. That's reality and we need to fight to step up our sport.
I frequently ask myself why and what can we learn from more popular sports. It seems simple, the games that are easy to play and easy to follow are usually the most popular. We all want more media coverage, but we must give the media something they want to cover. It's a business.

However, opportunities to watch wrestling are continuously growing. Growing up in Utah, my brothers and I were only able to see a couple college wrestling matches. BYU was 35 minutes from my hometown so we saw them compete a few times. Other then that, the only college wrestling we watched was from my dad recording the NCAA finals at 2 or 3 in the morning several weeks after the actual tournament. Consider the differences now--it's awesome. ESPN now airs the quarterfinals, semi-finals, placement matches and finals. Wrestling fans nationwide can see matches on the Big 10 Network, CSTV, and probably other stations as well. With the internet and live streaming, a wrestling fan can watch most colleges matches. Internet sites like youtube and flowrestling are also excellent means to watch matches that we simply couldn't, not too long ago. What a great time it is for wrestling.

Bill, you're not the only one looking for change. There are a lot of people talking right now about how we can make wrestling more exciting and more fan friendly. I believe by making a few changes we could accomplish this and take a big step in the right direction. This in return would help us develop a bigger fan base.

People don't watch what they don't understand. These are some thoughts and suggestions that I have given to the NCAA Rules Committee. The NCAA Rules Committee has a very tough job and obviously as a coach I really appreciate the time and effort they put into our great sport.

Here are my thoughts:

#1- We need to change the season of college wrestling. Right now our conference and NCAA tournament compete with arguably the biggest sporting event of the year--March Madness Basketball. Actually, I wouldn't say we compete--we share the left over scraps. My suggestion is to start the season Jan. 1 and have the NCAA tourney in April. Maybe allow open tournaments in December. Right now our season covers all three of our school's student breaks--Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Spring Break. That is tough on the student-athletes academically. This isn't a new idea, it's been floating around for awhile but I believe it would be great for the sport.

#2- Rule changes: Wrestling is a tough sport to officiate. There are so many judgment calls. The two most inconsistent calls in my opinion are "stalling" and "fleeing." Basically each referee calls both differently then every other referee. This is frustrating for coaches and athletes but more importantly it makes it difficult for fans to follow. Both rules are difficult to enforce so here are my suggestions and thoughts:

A) Eliminate riding time. Here's why: right now we encourage wrestlers in the top position to hold their opponent down for one minute to get an extra point. This is boring. By eliminating riding time we eliminate the main reason to hold an opponent down. Back points are enough encouragement for a wrestler to try and put their opponent on their back. The hypocritical part of the riding point is that riding an opponent just to hold them down is stalling. So essentially we are rewarding stalling with riding time, and therefore, encouraging it.

B) Eliminate the escape point. There are positives and negatives here but I think the positives outweigh the negatives. By eliminating the escape point, we eliminate the need to hold someone down and that would encourage takedowns. In theory, a takedown would now be worth more if you consider the escape making a takedown worth 1. The negative side is that the escape point does bring some excitement to the sport in the last seconds of the periods and mat wrestling would decline. However, there would be more wrestling on the feet and more attempts at takedowns. Plus, we would better prepare our wrestlers to make the transition to freestyle. Right now it is very difficult for our college wrestlers to step out of folkstyle and make the adjustment to international wrestling.

C) Eliminate ride out overtime procedures and make the winner get a takedown. I don't know anyone who likes the :30 ride out overtime procedure. When regulation time ends, start the two wrestlers on their feet in the middle of the mat and let them decide who the winner will be with a takedown. The concern might be the uncertain length of the overtime. Big deal! Uncertainty is fun. However, wrestlers would be a lot more willing to take risks at a takedown if they know it's the only way to win. One big problem I have with the ride out overtime procedure is the same problem I have with the riding point. We reward a wrestler for holding their opponent down. However, holding an opponent down with no intent to turn them to their back is considered stalling, right? Again, in a way we are rewarding the wrestler who does a better job stalling. Put them in the center and let them wrestle to a takedown. That makes conditioning more of factor as well which is something wrestlers and fans pride themselves on.

D)- Have a push out/ step out be worth one point. That would simplify the rules for the fans and make the sport more exciting. Right now the two most inconsistent and tough calls for refs are stalling and fleeing. Adding the push out rule would almost eliminate those two calls, or at least make them much easier to call. The push out would only be worth one point. No way should someone stepping out of bounds be worth as much as an actual takedown. This would also better prepare our wrestlers for international competition. We would have to decide how the push out rule applies in the top/ bottom position. I feel the pushout would only apply in the neutral position.

E)- Don't allow wrestlers to lay on their backs without being penalized back points. The object in wrestling is to put your opponent on their back. The sport has evolved. Wrestlers are very good at countering takedowns and reversals by rolling around and creating stalemates. Some of the time, putting their own back on the mat to do it. I think wrestlers should get a scramble grace period of a few seconds but after that, the referee should start counting back points. This would make it easier for the officials and make it less confusing for spectators. At no time in wrestling should a wrestler be allowed to expose their own back for an extended time and not be penalized for it.

F)- Coaches should be allowed to question the referee as many times as they feel is necessary. Coaches should not be limited to only a few opportunities at a tournament, and one at a dual meet, to fight for their student-athletes before they are deducted a team point. A coach should be able to fight for his athlete, now we can't. Of course the referee should be able to penalize a coach who is out of hand, but a coach should be able to question a ref. Let's face it, there are a ton of "judgment calls" in wrestling and refs do make mistakes. Coaches should be able to question judgment. Fans enjoy watching coaches "get after refs" almost as much if not more then actual wrestling so I believe it would be more fun for spectators. Coaches and ref disputes are a big part of sports. Why is it that in wrestling, arguably the sport with the most judgment calls, coaches can't do their job? Coaches and referee disputes are part of the fun.

#3- I think the NCAA should have a set and standard mat size. Right now there is a huge variety in mat size. I can't imagine any other sport that allows the host school to decide how big or small the playing surface is. I understand that very few schools could go out and buy a new mat but this is something that the NCAA could give the school 10 years to comply with. If you think of the difference in the square footage of the minimum and maximum mat size allowed--it's huge.

#4- Seed the individuals in the NCAA tournament to 16 instead of 12. That would seed the entire first round. There is a huge difference between the 13th ranked guy and the perceived 32nd ranked guy. It is more fair for the individuals competing and more fair for the team race to just seed to 16. Plus, it would not take much more work.

#5- Give wrestling fans the best seats at the NCAA tournament. Right now the best seats don't go to the loud fans representing their favorite teams. One side of the front bottom arena goes to different wrestling organizations to sell??.....I think. I'm not 100% sure who gets the seats but they aren't team fan sections. The other bottom front side goes to the host school. But at the NCAA tournament, especially when we use the same location again and again, the host team should not get all of the best seats. Right now, after the two best sides are given out, then they give the teams that do the best at the previous tournament the best corners. Please understand that I know little about the work and organization that goes into the tournament so I'm not trying to criticize. I am very appreciative of all the work that goes into our great sport.

However, the way we are forced to sell NCAA tickets to our fans makes it the opposite of fan friendly. Fans have to buy their tickets before Christmas. People who aren't die hard fans have little chance to jump on the bandwagon and become fans if their team starts doing well. If a team does well at their conference and the average sports fan from their university wants to go to the NCAA tournament, it's not going to happen. I'm not sure if we can correct this but it's something I have been thinking about that would help wrestling build more fans.

Thanks, Bill, good question.

I love wrestling!! There is no sport that compares to it!!

Cael "


Vince Nowak
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Re: NCAA DI TOURNEY - WHY?? [Re: Husker Fan] #228566 03/20/14 09:48 PM
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klintdeere Offline
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Great post Vince,

Re: NCAA DI TOURNEY - WHY?? [Re: Husker Fan] #228584 03/21/14 11:25 AM
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Klint, I appreciate the compliment. I will just take credit for running across Cael's Ask the Professor from his website to Bill (Des Moines) back in 2008 and posting it on this forum.
Obviously the credit for the ideas for the changes goes to Cael Sanderson. I think he has some real progressive and innovative ideas that could help wrestling especially at the college level.

The people on this forum are for the most part die hard lifetime wrestling people. We will always follow it. We love watching it on TV. Jacob, Linda and I love watching Big 10 TV for the TV coverage of duals, the Big 10 tournament and of course now the ESPN coverage of the NCAAs. I am sure everyone who is on the forum is the same way. The viewer that college wrestling is missing out on is the general sports fan who will turn on a regular season football or basketball game over all that current wrestling coverage I just detailed. This brings the money into football and basketball over wrestling. We need to build that type of interest into wrestling. What would follow would be more money into our sport and more college programs and scholarships.

I think Cael had some very interesting proposals on how college wrestling could start to build this interest with the general sports public. I would like to see the leaders of the sport including Cael get together discuss his ideas and those of others for the purpose of building wrestling as a sport of interest with the general public. They would need to be willing to do what Cael says in his answer to Bill.

I frequently ask myself why and what can we learn from more popular sports. It seems simple, the games that are easy to play and easy to follow are usually the most popular. We all want more media coverage, but we must give the media something they want to cover. It's a business.

We need to ask ourselves why the general sports public does not view wrestling as we do and what if anything can we do to start changing that. Cael Sanderson has done that.


Vince Nowak
Kansas College Wrestling Fund Supporter
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Re: NCAA DI TOURNEY - WHY?? [Re: Husker Fan] #228586 03/21/14 11:42 AM
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budkes Offline
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Vince,

That is a great article. I remember when it came out. One thing I find somewhat ironic about Cael's position is that he advocates for making it simpler to unerstand for the average fan.

The irony is that with wrestling the easiest form to understand is the dual team format. Duals make it very easy for casual fans to get behind....pick a team and cheer for them. This is what makes March Madness so much more marketable than "March Matness". People pick teams.....not individuals. Having said that, Cael is one of the biggest opposers to the National Dual concept that the NWCA has been trying to do.

Shawn Budke


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