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Flo Wrestler of the Year: David Taylor (link)

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He's probably talking about the David Taylor who lost to Kyle Dake 5 times (thusfar) and yet still ha people making cliams that he's secretly better than Dake.

 

I haven't seen anyone say he's "better than Dake," one on one -- heck, that's easy. But if the question is how Taylor's career stacks up with other Div. I greats more generally -- that is a harder question, since Taylor's team point stats are off the charts, despite having "only" 2 titles. It really comes down to what criteria you value when weighing a career.

 

If you want to just count up titles, fine -- just make sure you're prepared to say Jake Rosholt had a better college career than John Smith and Brent Metcalf. And if you want to use head-to-head measures as a yardstick, fine, just make sure you're ready to say Darrion Caldwell had a better career than Metcalf.

 

Personally I think its reasonable to look a little deeper.

 

If this were a baseball forum, and we were arguing about who the "best hitter" is, there'd be guys saying we should look to who has the highest batting average and/or the highest on-base percentage. Yet there'd also be people saying no, you need to look not just at batting average, but also at how many home runs (read: pins) and extra base hits (read: techs/majors), since those extra bases (read: bonus points), contribute more to the team. So, these people would say to instead look at a statistic like slugging percentage. I'd even say that's the majority view, as most baseball fans would identify the likes of Barry Bonds and Babe Ruth as the best hitters overall, rather than a Rogers Hornsby or Tony Gwynn type guy.

 

In wrestling, Taylor's career slugging percentage blows away all but a few competitors. Cael is right there. Gable is probably up there too. A few others. But overall it does set Taylor apart.

 

Or I guess you can just count up NCAA titles and weigh a career that way, as though its the only variable that matters. Whatever floats your boat.

 

So Bac, what are you ultimately saying? Taylor had a better career than Dake? I've pointed this out a few times already, but not all the greats from the past were encouraged to score points in bunches. Look at some of the old Okie State teams that produced a ton of great wrestlers. When it is all said and done, what matters most is ncaa titles and then win loss record. Everyone wants to win the title, and everyone wants to get their hand raised after each match. Everyone would also rather lose in the regular season (many go as far as to call the ENTIRE regular season "practice" or "warmup") rather than the ncaas. Not everyone goes for the "big" win everytime they step on the mat. I would say that's true in most cases even amongst the very biggest point scorers, since when they go up against a very quality opponent they usually seem to just wrestle to win. Ex. Did Taylor try to pin Bubba or Dake? Anyway, in light of all that, that's why ncaa careers should be (and are for the most part) judged by ncaa finishes and w-l record. Think of how many times we see entire careers summed up by 4 numbers and a record, ex. 1,1,1,1 136-4.

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I find it funny that so many non psu fans refuse to put Taylor in the best ever category. If he didn't get caught as a freshman, which getting caught has happened to a lot of guys that belong in the best ever conversation, I think anyone would agree he is one of the best ever. His losses to Dake were close and easily could have swung the other way. I am not saying he was a better wrestler than Dake, but he was obviously as close as anyone could be. If you say Dake is one of the best ever, then Taylor is too. If you argue Taylor is not in that category, then Dake should'nt be either. Dake has the four titles, but he has losses to lesser caliber opponents than Taylor and was not as dominant as far as bonus points go. Dake just had Taylor's number.

 

There is no evidence at all that suggests that Taylor got "caught". Taylor was 0-2 in his career vs. Jenkins. I'm not sure why so many want to say that Taylor was better than Jenkins even though he left the mat as the loser in their only two meetings.

 

It's nothing but nonsense to say that if Dake is one of the best ever, then Taylor is too. Dake is a 4x ncaa champion, Taylor is a two time champion. Taylor is 0-5 vs. Dake. 0-5. Nothing more needs to be said. What you're basically saying is if Dake had stayed at 157 and won a title, he wouldn't be one of the best ever. You're saying that Dake's greatness depends on beating Taylor.

 

Dake wrestled as a true freshman, Taylor didn't. If Taylor wrestled as a true freshman, he'd probably have more losses on his record. Remember that he couldn't beat Jenkins or Sanderson when he was a freshman. I'm not sure that he would have beaten those guys as a redshirt freshman either, and I'm still not convinced he'd beat an inshape Jenkins now.

 

I also disagree that Taylor was "as close to Dake as anyone could be". I see no evidence for that at all.

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So Bac, what are you ultimately saying? Taylor had a better career than Dake?

 

Most of what I'm "ultimately saying" is basically what I already wrote. First: Taylor isn't in the Cael, Dake, Smith conversation as far as individual titles, but I’ll put his team impact with anyone. Second: When evaluating a wrestler's career, its reasonable to look at more than just number of NCAA titles.

 

I'm not going to try to tell everybody else what measures to use, since I think its subjective, but I disagree with those who think there's only one way to look at it, and want to impose their view on everyone else. Suffice it to say that in some criteria, Taylor's at the top the heap, and in others he's not.

 

I wasn't looking to get into the Dake v. Taylor argument, in part because people on this forum are so wed to one or the other that they're incapable of looking at it objectively. Personally, I hold Dake and Taylor in roughly equal regard, but for different reasons. Dake is amazing for winning four titles, four different weight classes, without a redshirt -- and for his multiple clutch wins over an opponent of Taylor's caliber. Taylor is amazing for ability to not just win, but win big -- creating massive team points, with only 9 career matches not yielding bonus points. Taylor may well be the best ever at that.

 

Here's another way to look at it. To the extent one views wrestling only as an individual sport, Dake clearly had the better career. After all, in that analysis, bonus points really don't matter much except to the extent they show dominance -- and Taylor's dominance, however great, wasn't good enough to beat Dake. But, to the extent one views wrestling as a team sport, Taylor not only had the better career -- he arguably the best career ever. Why? Highest average team points per match. That's why if you gave coaches a crystal ball to be able to see how a wrestler's career would turn out, just about every one would pick Taylor over Dake, and maybe even over anyone else, as I don't know that there's a wrestler in history who has higher average team points per match. Heck, he even had more team points than Dake in the NCAA tournament in which Dake beat Taylor. As a coach -- or as a teammate -- Taylor's the guy you want on your team, since more than almost anyone, he'll help you win dual meets and team tournament titles.

 

But obviously wrestling is neither only an individual sport, nor only a team sport. Its a blend of both. I think most of us would say its mostly individual, but we keep team scores for a reason; there's no denying its a team sport in part. How you measure Taylor against Dake, or against any other elite wrestlers in history, depends in part on how you balance those two aspects of the sport.

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So Bac, do you think it's reasonable for someone to argue Taylor as the greatest overall ncaa wrestler of all time?

 

I wouldn't make the argument, but I have my own criteria which places a premium on criteria where Taylor does not fare as well. But there are plenty of people out there (mostly coaches, in my experience) that firmly believe a wrestler's value should be gauged first and foremost through the lens of his value to his team. I think they could make an interesting argument though that lens.

 

Back at you. If you, as a Div I college coach, had a crystal ball and knew what Taylor's team point production would be over the course of his college career (in particular, the "average team points per match" statistic), including at NCAAs, who if anyone would you pick over him, and why? I realize you have your own criteria for greatness, but think outside the box for a moment. More generally, how would you rank the top 5 or so wrestlers in modern history (past 40-50 years, say) in terms of their value to and/or impact on a given team, and what do you think is an appropriate objective criteria to measure that?

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So Bac, do you think it's reasonable for someone to argue Taylor as the greatest overall ncaa wrestler of all time?

 

I wouldn't make the argument, but I have my own criteria which places a premium on criteria where Taylor does not fare as well. But there are plenty of people out there (mostly coaches, in my experience) that firmly believe a wrestler's value should be gauged first and foremost through the lens of his value to his team. I think they could make an interesting argument though that lens.

 

Back at you. If you, as a Div I college coach, had a crystal ball and knew what Taylor's team point production would be over the course of his college career (in particular, the "average team points per match" statistic), including at NCAAs, who if anyone would you pick over him, and why? I realize you have your own criteria for greatness, but think outside the box for a moment. More generally, how would you rank the top 5 or so wrestlers in modern history (past 40-50 years, say) in terms of their value to and/or impact on a given team, and what do you think is an appropriate objective criteria to measure that?

 

My top 5 would be something like: Cael, Dake, Pat Smith, Uetake, Hodge.

 

This was one of the points I touch on in my Taylor thread (being released when a few posters return after a lost bet). Much of Taylor's "greatness" depends on the weakness of other wrestlers. You said earlier:

 

That's why if you gave coaches a crystal ball to be able to see how a wrestler's career would turn out, just about every one would pick Taylor over Dake, and maybe even over anyone else, as I don't know that there's a wrestler in history who has higher average team points per match.

 

Even in this scenario you would have coaches who'd pick Dake over Taylor. But what if the hypothetical were a little bit different? What if you had a lineup where the other 9 wrestlers were ncaa champion caliber wrestlers? Wrestlers who proved that they could perform on the big stage. If you had to fill that 10th spot with one more wrestler, who would you pick, Dake or Taylor? I think every coach would pick Dake in that situation. In that situation, there's no reason to pick Taylor, the team title would already be more than secure. Another hypothetical, what if you coached a team where 9 of the starters couldn't qualify for ncaas? If you had the chance to bring only one wrestler to the ncaa tournament to represent your team, who would you pick: Dake or Taylor? Again, I'd pick Dake and I'd imagine that every other coach would too.

 

How about another. If you had to pick a wrestler to win one match for the team championship in the ncaa final, who would it be: Dake or Taylor? I see nearly everyone who knows wrestling picking Dake.

 

One thing that really hurts Taylor in any comparison with Dake is that if you simply alter a minor detail in any advantage DT may seem to have, the scales start to tip in Dake's favor. "Dominance" is a good example. Of course Taylor's bonus % is always mentioned when he and Dake are compared. I've asked in the past, if you merely increased the level of competition to its absolute highest level (think of the competition consisting only of all time greats/multiple time national champs), who would be the more dominant wrestler between the two? Who would have the better record or avg. point differential? If that changes your answer to Dake or even causes you to hesitate picking Taylor, then that's quite the admission imo. That's one of the reasons that I'm not really moved by Taylor's "dominance". If I imagine him facing the greatest competition, then I don't see him having an edge in that category. If increasing the competition, or raising the stakes causes me to heavily favor one wrestler over the other, to the point that the choice is a no brainer, imo there is no comparison between the two. In that case, the two wrestlers would be on entirely different tiers of greatness imo. And that's how I see Dake and Taylor.

 

Bac, I know that you didn't ask me to compare the two in that last post. Let me apologize on going off on a bit of a tangent. With that said, you could replace Dake's name there with Cael, Smith, Uetake, etc. and my point would be the same. I'd pick those guys in those hypothetical questions that I asked.

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BAC - well said. Very fair perspective and I can see it.

 

There is another angle to think about - star power. For the Cornell team, Dake was and is a PR juggernaut. That counts for something. Taylor is a big PR win for PSU too ... and the Taylor /Ruth combo is impressive.

 

There is more to contributing to the team than just points.

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BAC - well said. Very fair perspective and I can see it.

 

There is another angle to think about - star power. For the Cornell team, Dake was and is a PR juggernaut. That counts for something. Taylor is a big PR win for PSU too ... and the Taylor /Ruth combo is impressive.

 

There is more to contributing to the team than just points.

 

I agree that star power impacts team value. The problem is its so subjective and hard to quantify. For that matter, ability to lead and inspire, ability to develop younger talent, assist in recruitment, good citizenship, charisma... all impact value to a team, but I dare not quantify it, nor claim one wrestler is "better" than another on such criteria. Who's to say? I'm trying to stick to more objective criteria.

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So Bac, do you think it's reasonable for someone to argue Taylor as the greatest overall ncaa wrestler of all time?

 

I wouldn't make the argument, but I have my own criteria which places a premium on criteria where Taylor does not fare as well. But there are plenty of people out there (mostly coaches, in my experience) that firmly believe a wrestler's value should be gauged first and foremost through the lens of his value to his team. I think they could make an interesting argument though that lens.

 

Back at you. If you, as a Div I college coach, had a crystal ball and knew what Taylor's team point production would be over the course of his college career (in particular, the "average team points per match" statistic), including at NCAAs, who if anyone would you pick over him, and why? I realize you have your own criteria for greatness, but think outside the box for a moment. More generally, how would you rank the top 5 or so wrestlers in modern history (past 40-50 years, say) in terms of their value to and/or impact on a given team, and what do you think is an appropriate objective criteria to measure that?

 

My top 5 would be something like: Cael, Dake, Pat Smith, Uetake, Hodge.

 

This was one of the points I touch on in my Taylor thread (being released when a few posters return after a lost bet). Much of Taylor's "greatness" depends on the weakness of other wrestlers. You said earlier:

 

That's why if you gave coaches a crystal ball to be able to see how a wrestler's career would turn out, just about every one would pick Taylor over Dake, and maybe even over anyone else, as I don't know that there's a wrestler in history who has higher average team points per match.

 

Even in this scenario you would have coaches who'd pick Dake over Taylor. But what if the hypothetical were a little bit different? What if you had a lineup where the other 9 wrestlers were ncaa champion caliber wrestlers? Wrestlers who proved that they could perform on the big stage. If you had to fill that 10th spot with one more wrestler, who would you pick, Dake or Taylor? I think every coach would pick Dake in that situation. In that situation, there's no reason to pick Taylor, the team title would already be more than secure. Another hypothetical, what if you coached a team where 9 of the starters couldn't qualify for ncaas? If you had the chance to bring only one wrestler to the ncaa tournament to represent your team, who would you pick: Dake or Taylor? Again, I'd pick Dake and I'd imagine that every other coach would too.

 

How about another. If you had to pick a wrestler to win one match for the team championship in the ncaa final, who would it be: Dake or Taylor? I see nearly everyone who knows wrestling picking Dake.

 

One thing that really hurts Taylor in any comparison with Dake is that if you simply alter a minor detail in any advantage DT may seem to have, the scales start to tip in Dake's favor. "Dominance" is a good example. Of course Taylor's bonus % is always mentioned when he and Dake are compared. I've asked in the past, if you merely increased the level of competition to its absolute highest level (think of the competition consisting only of all time greats/multiple time national champs), who would be the more dominant wrestler between the two? Who would have the better record or avg. point differential? If that changes your answer to Dake or even causes you to hesitate picking Taylor, then that's quite the admission imo. That's one of the reasons that I'm not really moved by Taylor's "dominance". If I imagine him facing the greatest competition, then I don't see him having an edge in that category. If increasing the competition, or raising the stakes causes me to heavily favor one wrestler over the other, to the point that the choice is a no brainer, imo there is no comparison between the two. In that case, the two wrestlers would be on entirely different tiers of greatness imo. And that's how I see Dake and Taylor.

 

Bac, I know that you didn't ask me to compare the two in that last post. Let me apologize on going off on a bit of a tangent. With that said, you could replace Dake's name there with Cael, Smith, Uetake, etc. and my point would be the same. I'd pick those guys in those hypothetical questions that I asked.

 

superold,

 

I appreciate your viewpoint, but candidly, if Coach Superold stocks his team with wrestlers with the stats of Dake, while Coach BAC stocks his team with wrestlers with the stats of Taylor, guess what -- I'm going to win NCAAs every year. At least you'll take second, so you won't get fired. :)

 

Its just math. If Taylor averages 5.1 points per career match, while Dake averages 3.8 points per career match, statistically speaking I'm going to win way more dual meets than you. And since Taylor scored more NCAA team points than Dake and about the same as Pat Smith, despite winning only twice, I'm going to win NCAAs too. (I won't comment on Hodge and Uetake since the scoring system was so different back then, and I don't know their average point differentials; its hard to make a meaningful comparison.)

 

Your contrary viewpoint seems to rest on Taylor having weaker competition than the rest. I'm not even going to go there, as I think that's a speculative and unprovable point. Especially when the comparisons cut across weight classes and cut across generations -- and also since much of Taylor's competition has yet to write the final chapters in their NCAA career. You are entitled to your opinion, but its more objective to assume that quality of competition was roughy comparable.

 

Your Dake/Taylor hypotheticals are interesting, but they demonstrate that one needs to create a wildly implausible scenario to find a situation in which Taylor wouldn't be the better draft pick, based on career point production. But for what its worth, I think most coaches would pick Taylor in all your hypos except the last one (most likely to win in finals). That's because in the first two, the coach would want the guy likely to score the most NCAA team points, and Taylor is behind only Cael and Banach in that department. Even when Taylor takes second, he usually scores more team points than the guy who took first, including the year Dake beat Taylor.

 

It may well be true that if one imagines a world where weight classes only have NCAA champs, Taylor won't be as dominant -- and perhaps would not be as dominant as Dake. But that's an imaginary world; my points have been confined to the real world. In the real world, weight classes aren't chocked full of NCAA champs, and Taylor racks up bonus in over 90% of his matches. That's why in the real world, I think most coaches, with the benefit of hindsight, would want Taylor on their team before Dake and almost every other guy from the past 40 years, save Cael and maybe one or two others.

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BAC - ok, now you lost me. You say you don't want to guess about things but then you say most coaches would pick a team of David Taylor's over a team of Kyle Dake's. Really? Your evidence? I find that you will guess at things when you think it helps your point, and won't guess at things when you think it won't help your point. Then you say you won't guess at things. Amusing.

 

I would frankly disagree with your guess here. I am not a coach bout I would want 10 individual champions. You would have a team of 2nd place finishers. The idea of a team title here is comical. While you might get it based on a particular scoring system, anyone looking at this would say that my team is better than yours. My team would win every dual, every tournament. If we dualed, my team would blank yours. Your team would have second place finishers at any tournament I choose to enter.

 

If this was to occur, the country would mock our tournament scoring system, and I would guess (I'm willing to guess) that most of the country would see the Dake team as the number 1 team in the country.

 

You really, honestly think, coaches would prefer your team. You are being blinded by the desire to try to prove a point and you stepped a bit far here.

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David Taylor for sure was a great college wrestler BUT people need to stop ! He wasn't even as good as his own teammate , who IS the best ever Penn State wrestler in history !! Why does nobody ever seem to talk about or recognize that ?? Is DT in ANY conversation of greatest ever ? NO WAY, he wasn't even the greatest Nittany lion ! Get the list together of all the 2 timers in history and stop right there !! He just may be the best 2 timer ? BUT THAT'S IT ! ALL D1 is tough for sure BUT he has seemed to me to have one of the easiest weight classes all 4 years. In fact, his freshman year, wasn't Bubba the first ever "current" AA he ever wrestled in college? Which means he never wrestled an AA until the NCAA finals his freshman year, and when he did , he lost . He has never beat any wrestlers that will be considered "all time greats", and he has never beat and redeemed himself against anyone he ever lost to in college. Ed Ruth not only did that , but he crushed the these opponents. All I'm saying is that YES, DTs career was great for sure BUT it really needs to be put in it's proper perspective.

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He's probably talking about the David Taylor who lost to Kyle Dake 5 times (thusfar) and yet still ha people making cliams that he's secretly better than Dake.

 

I haven't seen anyone say he's "better than Dake," one on one -- heck, that's easy. But if the question is how Taylor's career stacks up with other Div. I greats more generally -- that is a harder question, since Taylor's team point stats are off the charts, despite having "only" 2 titles. It really comes down to what criteria you value when weighing a career.

 

If you want to just count up titles, fine -- just make sure you're prepared to say Jake Rosholt had a better college career than John Smith and Brent Metcalf. And if you want to use head-to-head measures as a yardstick, fine, just make sure you're ready to say Darrion Caldwell had a better career than Metcalf.

 

Personally I think its reasonable to look a little deeper.

 

If this were a baseball forum, and we were arguing about who the "best hitter" is, there'd be guys saying we should look to who has the highest batting average and/or the highest on-base percentage. Yet there'd also be people saying no, you need to look not just at batting average, but also at how many home runs (read: pins) and extra base hits (read: techs/majors), since those extra bases (read: bonus points), contribute more to the team. So, these people would say to instead look at a statistic like slugging percentage. I'd even say that's the majority view, as most baseball fans would identify the likes of Barry Bonds and Babe Ruth as the best hitters overall, rather than a Rogers Hornsby or Tony Gwynn type guy.

 

In wrestling, Taylor's career slugging percentage blows away all but a few competitors. Cael is right there. Gable is probably up there too. A few others. But overall it does set Taylor apart.

 

Or I guess you can just count up NCAA titles and weigh a career that way, as though its the only variable that matters. Whatever floats your boat.

 

Great post. With those analogies, this probably best explains why simply pointing to titles or head to head is not a complete look at who is better/best. Kudos.

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