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To RS or not to RS

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This is a topic that has frequently been revisited, but in looking at new talent this year I raise it again.

 

My take is that the best strategy is to redshirt new freshmen unless: 1) there is simply no one else who can handle the weight, or 2) the wrestler is so obviously talented that he is almost certain to be an AA. As to 1) much has been written about the decision some years ago to RS Alex Tsirtsis, suggesting that he would have benefitted from a RS. I think this may be true (20-20 hindsight) but there was no one else available and from the time he was recruited and signed, there was no doubt that he would be the starter. As to 2) a few names come to mind--Steve Mocco, Dustin Schlatter, Logan Stieber (even though he was hurt as a true Freshman. In most instances, I don't think it has worked out too well.

 

So why do it, since it opens the door for criticism when it has less than positive results? My examination of Zalesky's experience at Iowa suggests that the decisions were most often wrong, except for Mocco and maybe Tsirtsis. And yet, Gable started true freshmen in a number of cases--Davis, M. Kistler, Kerber, Jim Heffernan, Chiapparelli, McIlravy, McGinniss, Joe Williams--with mostly good results. But note that in every case they did take a redshirt at some point. You can do this when you stack wrestlers at most weights. Right now the only team with anything approaching that level of talent/depth is Penn State.

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I am a firm believer that everyone should redshirt. Of course there are guys that are ready to go right out of the gate and could AA, but maybe with a RS they could come back and be a NC. I will present Logan Steiber as an example. He was slated to start as a true freshman at 125 pounds(he got hurt and ended up redshirting). He would have done well and probably would have even been a high AA, but he probably would have suffered a few more losses and most likely not won a national title. As the story goes he redshirted, bumped up and filled out, won a national title(JO may object to that) and could possibly finish with 4.

 

Logan Storely(maybe it's a Logan thing?) also really wanted to wrestle right away and he has done great. His true freshman year he was pretty much always a top ten wrestler and AA'd, but was never considered a Title contender(mostly cuz Ruth). Then look at his Sophomore year(his RS Frosh yr had he redshirted) how he really made a name for himself as a title contender(a lot cuz Ruth left, so there was some luck to that as well). I know he gained a lot of crucial experience from wrestling a big ten schedule, but just using it as another example.

 

I know the longer someone is in school and competing that that increases the liklihood of burnout or getting injured, but I think every wrestler has too much experience to gain during their redshirt season. I know i gave two examples about phenominal wrestlers and one could argue they would do fine either way, cuz they probably would. I felt it was too easy to pick a high profile recruit that didnt have success(based on expectations of majority) as true frosh ie. Massa, Meeks, Camp. All three were the team's best option, but starting them hurt the team in the long run and the individuals in the long run as well IMO. Maybe I am alone but I say Redshirt them All!

 

I must confess I would make two exceptions. The first would be if the administration said this is your last year to prove to us you belong here with results on the mat (Some think that is what KJ did with Meeks). The second would be if I felt I had a wrestling team with a real shot at the national title, but only if that true frosh filled a hole.

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I am a firm believer that everyone should redshirt. Of course there are guys that are ready to go right out of the gate and could AA, but maybe with a RS they could come back and be a NC.

 

Why everyone when you admit that there are some "ready to go right out of the gate"? A few special kids have the ability to win ncaas as true freshman. Dustin Schlatter, for example, was clearly ready to wresle as a true freshman.

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Wrestling-wise, agreed. Sometimes other issues matter. College is really expensive, and so few guys get big money. And some guys have other priorities -- like Pat Tillman did:

 

After Arizona State coach Bruce Snyder discussed the benefits of a redshirt season, Tillman responded: "I've got things to do with my life. You can do whatever you want with me, but in four years I'm gone." In 3½ years, the linebacker graduated summa cum laude with a marketing degree and 3.84 GPA.

 

http://espn.go.com/classic/biography/s/Tillman_Pat.html

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^^To RS or not to RS, that is the question. And one answer obviously is that most every wrestler and every situation is different. I recall one veteran Div I head coach who said, "Redshirting is like shoes - one size does not fit all."

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Well, maybe one size DOES fit all. Maybe I'm wrong, but I thought that I heard that the Ivy league schools, or, as wrestling fans say it, "the Ivys," do not have redshirt options. If that is the case, it sure seems like it hasn't hampered Cornell one iota, and, to a far lesser degree, it hasn't hampered Harvard, as they've had some multiple time AA's come out of there.

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Well, maybe one size DOES fit all. Maybe I'm wrong, but I thought that I heard that the Ivy league schools, or, as wrestling fans say it, "the Ivys," do not have redshirt options. If that is the case, it sure seems like it hasn't hampered Cornell one iota, and, to a far lesser degree, it hasn't hampered Harvard, as they've had some multiple time AA's come out of there.

 

I believe a number of the Ivys have a way around this. Cornell recruits attend a local school, and train at FLWC, in lieu of redshirting. They get their year of training/maturing, without burning a year of competition.

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They don't have to attend local schools either when they are deferring a year. Most do because they can get some course load out of the way. It helps the wrestler balance the intensity of classes during enrollment on top of all the training.

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The performance related drawbacks to redshirting are basically nil, and the advantages can be pretty big, as the extra year of development can be a massive benefit to the wrestler. it also gives coaches more flexibility with the line up, being able to sit guys if there is a capable back up.

 

but, as many have pointed out, there are many reasons not to RS, such as institutional limitations or individual preference (if a wrestler wants to graduate and 4 years and start earning a living, for instance). but from a coaches stand point, its a luxury, and if the circumstances allow, i'd imagine RS would be the default choice.

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Well, maybe one size DOES fit all. Maybe I'm wrong, but I thought that I heard that the Ivy league schools, or, as wrestling fans say it, "the Ivys," do not have redshirt options. If that is the case, it sure seems like it hasn't hampered Cornell one iota, and, to a far lesser degree, it hasn't hampered Harvard, as they've had some multiple time AA's come out of there.

 

I believe a number of the Ivys have a way around this. Cornell recruits attend a local school, and train at FLWC, in lieu of redshirting. They get their year of training/maturing, without burning a year of competition.

 

Dake didn't do this. Travis Lee didn't. Simaz and Bosak didn't. A few have, it remains to be seen how much it helps.

 

I would argue that redshirting is less important than ever today. The kids come in more prepared to wrestle at the highest levels. Redshirting make more sense if you are trying to get all of your ducks in a row for a run at a team title, ala Oklahoma. But for an individual kid, you are running the risk of injury, burn-out etc and the benefit is not proven.

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It makes sense to preserve a redshirt in the event of injury.

 

Along the same lines, is the freshman year always the best year to redshirt? For any other reason other than needed in the line up right away, initially just that good, or as you said in the event of an injury, would it be a good idea to redshirt any other year?

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Along the same lines, is the freshman year always the best year to redshirt?

Assuming you don't have an injury in a subsequent year, freshman year is still the best year to redshirt if you are looking to gain as many accolades as possible in your four years of competition. If the goal is simply to get as good as possible by the end of your senior year, then it probably doesn't matter which year you redshirted. Losing a bunch of matches while competing as a true freshman would go a long way towards an athlete's development. But you'd be picking up a fair share of official losses along the way.

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I think for some the redshirt is important to get settled academically and getting used to the campus and wrestling room atmosphere mentally too. I'm going to guess some guys have or would have benifited from that aspect of a freshman redshirt year, just as much as those who make wrestling strides.

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Well, maybe one size DOES fit all. Maybe I'm wrong, but I thought that I heard that the Ivy league schools, or, as wrestling fans say it, "the Ivys," do not have redshirt options. If that is the case, it sure seems like it hasn't hampered Cornell one iota, and, to a far lesser degree, it hasn't hampered Harvard, as they've had some multiple time AA's come out of there.

 

I believe a number of the Ivys have a way around this. Cornell recruits attend a local school, and train at FLWC, in lieu of redshirting. They get their year of training/maturing, without burning a year of competition.

 

Dake didn't do this. Travis Lee didn't. Simaz and Bosak didn't. A few have, it remains to be seen how much it helps.

 

I would argue that redshirting is less important than ever today. The kids come in more prepared to wrestle at the highest levels. Redshirting make more sense if you are trying to get all of your ducks in a row for a run at a team title, ala Oklahoma. But for an individual kid, you are running the risk of injury, burn-out etc and the benefit is not proven.

 

Dake and Nickerson both went right away, because Koll knew they were ready to compete for an individual title right out of the chute.

 

Simaz definitely greyshirted. Bosak is one of those individuals that didn't crack the lineup his first year at Cornell where he enrolled right out of high school, wrestling only one semester probably due to injury.

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I am a firm believer that everyone should redshirt. Of course there are guys that are ready to go right out of the gate and could AA, but maybe with a RS they could come back and be a NC.

 

Why everyone when you admit that there are some "ready to go right out of the gate"? A few special kids have the ability to win ncaas as true freshman. Dustin Schlatter, for example, was clearly ready to wresle as a true freshman.

Schlatter would have fallen under the "the team has a legit shot at a national title" exception for me.

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I am not a fan of redshirting from a collegiate athlete philosophical standpoint.

 

However, thre is no doubt that with the use of tournament scoring and so much emphasis on the one tournament in march, the use of a redshirt can be significant. It is important to note that for a lot of programs the scholarship limit is an issue resulting in a debate of holding out (limited) resources from your lineup on speculation. Speculation is always a risky proposition. But yes, like going to the casino, the payoffs can be significant and that is all people will ever want to talk about and remember. For the big programs they don't have to make as much of an investment since athletes will often take a one-third scholarship to wrestle for a program in the national title hunt than to wrestle on a majority of full-scholarship for a team vying for a top 20 ranking.

 

Holding out a national qualifier to save a potential run at a national championship for the cost of .33 of a scholarship makes sense when you have a potential national qualifier to fill his spot. The trade off can be significant and the risk is minimized since potential national qualifiers are much easier to recruit. But holding out 50 percent of your talent (judged by scholarships) or more can be painful to watch. We all know a few programs that have done this to stock pile talent for the future. All in all, I don't think it works out as well as people assume it will.

 

But with the tournament scoring system and having a few athletes being able to win one more match in a few years than they can currently win, it could change a coach's career and earn them a 'flag in their cap' enabling them to retain their job for many years to come.

 

Now, if the dual results are more vital then maybe that trade off isn't as significant. Maybe you will get the younger guy with the up-side into the line up because the one win in a dual could make or break a season.

 

How many times have we heard fans of a program say "they could have won the dual if they had decided not to save a year of eligability for their star young athlete"? I think wrestling really loses out in these instances. It crowds talent at a few programs and I don't think this is good for the sport.

 

I really think wrestling (team) championships are a lot like football. We have a limited number of dates and a few programs that seem to dominate and are consistently in the race for a title. But the difference is that we don't use our best lineups when we can. Time and time again we see programs holding guys out because they might be better in year five (or six) than in year one. And while this can be true, I think many more athletes don't end up better off. Part of it, I think, is that college results for most athletes are the pinnacle of their wrestling carrers. We have so few transition to freestyle that it is clear they will make their mark on the sport in their college career.

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