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Rule Changes Are Always a Mess

The NCAA Wrestling Rules Committee has recommended that two experimental rules become permanent for next season. Essentially the 5-second drop down rule and the backing out when neutral are what we are talking about. You can read about that here . 

Pat Tocci just tweeted that the NWCA All-Star Classic will use a 3-point takedown. I guess making takedowns worth more would put a greater incentive on neutral wrestling which can be better for the fans in theory. 

There are many other ideas ranging from simple, like getting rid of riding time like high school did, to crazy overhauls like going freestyle altogether. The problem is rule changes are always a mess. Soccer is the most popular sport on this planet in large part to the fact that it's also one of the simplest. The more complicated we get with rule changes is where we lose expectations of fans, wrestlers, coaches, and referees creating a product that is tough to watch.

Rule changes are not as simple as they sound rolling off the tongue. Getting refs to ref wrestling in a relatively same manner has been historically impossible. Changing the rules every year only complicates this unfortunate downside of our sport. 

I'm not particularly a fan of the drop down 5-count rule, but I hesitate to completely admonish it. We simply need refs to call stalling and it is pretty obvious when guys are just hanging out on top. Repeatedly dropping to the legs is an easy stall call to make. We just need refs to make it. The 5-count has and will continue to be a source of vast inconsistency, but it is better than nothing (see 2013 Big Ten finals). The same thing with backing out of bounds calls. That's always been stalling. Call it. Okay? Okay. 

There is a lot of talk about NCAA Wrestling needing to "build a fan base". It drives me nuts since sell out crowds have proved there is a growing fan base. Wrestling on the collegiate level risks losing the fan base it already has if its changes are so vast. It's nice to encourage high school wrestlers to watch the Big Ten Network and other wrestling broadcasts to spark more interest and pride in their sport. College & high school sharing similar rules is good for college wrestling. If college wrestling were to turn in to a freestyle folkstyle mix with odd scoring, I think it would be much more damaging than helpful.