This is the week after the NCAA Championships which reminds me of my favorite part of Festivus, the "Airing of the Grievances". It seems people go a bit overboard with this annual festivity and we (the collective wrestling faithful) come off like a bunch of angry irrational morons.
Don't get me wrong, I have suggestions and ideas too. However, I think we can't just be firing off a hundred changes, including dramatic overhauls to the sport, and have it come off as legitimate suggestions from sane people.
Case #1: Ian Miller (Kent State) vs Brian Realbuto (Cornell) quarterfinal debacle. Miller was not awarded an escape point with 20 seconds left as Realbuto cut him and quickly dove in at his legs. The match was then tied up with a takedown and it went to overtime. The mistake was a combination of officiating, table work, and the Kent State coaches not throwing more of a fit. It's a very unfortunate incident that deserves to be reviewed, but what can you do now? Why are we still talking about it? It certainly doesn't help anything. Both refs, the table help, and the coaches screwed up. You can't go back and fix it once the match is done. Let's move on.
Case #2: Scoring, Stalling, and Folkstyle. The finals this year were actually really exciting with only one "boring" match at 149, but hey at least that wasn't won in ride outs. Folkstyle wrestling is the style to stay in college wrestling for better or for worse. Dramatic sweeping overhauls are not going to happen and that's probably a good thing. We have basically had the same set of rules since the Korean War and we still can't get the hundreds of officials to call the rules the same way. Can you imagine if we developed a new style from there? It would likely be a full on shit show of disastrous proportions. Stalling and fleeing the mat are very difficult calls to make, but refs just need to make them more often. The wrestlers adjust and often times as quickly as the same dual to what's being called. This also goes for the lack of stalling calls. We have seen the wrestlers adjust knowing they can parallel ride for riding time and back out of disadvantageous tie-ups out of bounds without penalty. They adjust and sit on leads. The rules are there to call, and small improvements can be made, but let's not kid ourselves that folkstyle wrestling is going anywhere.
Case #3: Seeding. The seeding this year was awful, and we deserve better. However, nobody really got hosed. You got to win matches to get on the podium. A lot of people were upset when Devin Carter (Virginia Tech) got the 4th seed behind Lavion Mayes (Missouri). I would have felt bad for him, but he lost his quarterfinal match to unseeded Cinderella Kevin Jack (North Carolina State). Hopefully we will have a better formula next year that doesn't really involve a formula, but more common sense. It always comes down to winning matches though.
Case #4: Dual Component for National Championship: I really enjoyed the National Duals and hope that next year we can again assure the top 6 (or so) teams have it out in a dual format to find out who is the best dual team in the land. The National Championship is awarded to who scores the most points at the individual tournament. Historically that's the case, and I don't see that changing. The tournament sells out 18,000 seat arenas. The NCAA isn't going to change off of that. In the spirit of competition though, the dual championship was great to watch this year and great for Missouri to prove how good they were. Let's have both just like it was this year. Asking for more is a bit greedy really and even more confusing to our already confusing sport.
College Wrestling right now is successful. Attendance, viewership, and sponsorship is up. Asking to change everything risks losing the fragile growth of the fan base. We can do small improvements, but the product needs to remain at least 95% the same.