Point-Counterpoint on 20-man bracket

Got this e-mail upset over my negative comments on the 20-man bracket, so I thought I would do a point-counterpoint. Feel free to add your opinions.

You are so wrong in so many ways.... It is obvious you have never laced up a pair of wrestling shoes. How dare you question who remembers a 6th place finisher! I'm sure that the wrestler, his family, his friends, and his school certainly remember. If you actually followed the sport (outside of Washington and Greene County...South Fayette for some reason too) and didn't hitch your wagon to certain local stars, you would see that adding extra wrestlers will increase the chances for our local boys to bring home state medals and in no way water down the state competition. Would you say Dom Forys from NA had no shot at placing in the PIAA and his presence at PIAA's would detract from the event? Your solution ...make the state tournament smaller??? Really Joe, really? The wrestling community needs to be constantly evolving and testing itself all of the time. Right now is the perfect time to try something new! Let's get more kids a chance to make it to Hershey which means more schools have a chance to make it as well. Wouldn't it be great to see Carlynton, Baldwin or Knoch have kids going to Hershey? Who knows, maybe a little kid in one of those programs sees the success and wants to repeat it? Further more the population of PA is on a continual incline and has been for quite awhile. So let's reduce the size of the state tourney... I'm still floored by that! I will agree that having all of the metal rounds compete at once is an experiment gone horribly wrong but at least the PIAA tried to make it better....so their place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who have tasted neither victory nor defeat.

My reply:
First, let's deal with the Forys issue. While I agree he did not get a fair shake because of the weight class, Forys was not going to finish any higher than fourth if you take into account he couldn't beat the three people in front of him in the district. You can't replay the tournament. You get one shot so you better beat the guy in front of you.

I am not going to belittle the accomplishment of winning a medal at the state tournament. The point I am trying to make is that the state tournament is there to decide champions. Like former NFL coach Herman Edwards said, "You play to win the game." Adding more wrestlers might certainly mean more medals, but it's the gold one that carries the most meaning.

If the accumulation of medals is how you base success in the tournament, then what would be better? Bringing seven wrestlers from the district who win state titles or having a dozen medalists from second to eighth? That's an easy answer. A smaller tournament makes for more interest in my opinion. If the consolation rounds are so exciting to fans, why are the least attended parts of the state tournament?

I agree with Herm. You play to win the game. That's why we watch.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Forys can't beat or didn't beat are two entirely different things. Ask Herm Edwards about James English. Don't know James... Here you go. Lost twice as a sixth year senior at Big Tens but still qualified for NCAA's lost 3 times at NCAA's took 7th scored 6.5 points during the tournament PSU WON BY 5.5. Tell me, honestly that the tournament is only about winning. By you making statements like you did in your counterpoint clearly shows that adding extra wrestlers to the PIAA is not the problem but rather narrow minded ideas and antiquated ideas are going to really nail the coffin on the sport. I'm still floored by the less wrestler idea.... Can you say single elimination piggy back system #HarrisburgFarmShowArena. Get with it Joe you're better then this. BTW who cares what Herm Edwards says...stick with wrestling philosophy when talking wrestling

Sunday, April 13, 2014 8:34:00 PM  
Anonymous mark howard said...

my 2 cents ...my son is Brendan howard he wrestles for jeff-morgan ..he has wrestled all 3 years the 5th 6th elimination match to go to states ..he has made it 1 time he has placed 6th 2 times ..just so happens that 6 of the top 8 kids in the state are in our region..he didn't wrestle his best and didn't make it out..were we upset because he didn't make ? absolutely im still sick about it but do I agree with 6 to states ? no I don't and this is why ..my sons goal is to win a state title. he wrestles and trains year around ..he knows he has to earn and not b given things in life and that goes far beyond wrestling. he has 1 more shot next year and hes working his butt off to achieve his goal and if he gets there next year it will b because he earned it.

Monday, April 14, 2014 10:38:00 AM  
Blogger Joe Tuscano said...

I am not in favor of going back to the stone age. I wonder, however, what exactly would be the difference if six instead of eight places received medals. Look at the the time the tournament takes to operate. Wrestling goes on continuously from 9 a.m. Thursday til 10 p.m. Saturday.

The extra qualifiers now mean a 7 a.m. weigh-in for Class AAA semifinalists. The biggest bout up to that point and you drag them out of bed at 6 a.m. to get them to the arena on time if it's a 20-man bracket. That doesn't make sense to me.

As for James English, I never said it was not an accomplishment. You can make a case like that in just about every tournament that is decided by a few points. But how many are in the state tournament?

Monday, April 14, 2014 1:57:00 PM  
Blogger Joe Tuscano said...

To Mark, I hope he makes it. I understand the thrill of going to the state tournament and gaining that experience. In Class AA, though, District 7 wrestlers can lose 11 times in the postseason and still receive an eighth-place medal.

Next year, the top 8 wrestlers in District 7 advance to the Region. The extra qualifier would make the top 6 advance to states.

Monday, April 14, 2014 2:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mark your kid is a stud and of course he trains to win it but if he doesn't does that diminish his body f work? No way. Placing and getting a medal will always be remembered and appreciated. This will become even more real if he wrestles after high school at a high level of competition. Wrestling in PA is so competitive that adding another qualifier will only enhance the sport. Joe your back peddling again. If the goal of the tournament is to decide champions and you are only entertained by the championship rounds you certainly did diminish Englishs' accomplishments. Why don't we see his type of heroics more often at PIAA's...maybe the super teams filled with recruits who make it a run away before it even starts???? But that's a topic for another time.

Monday, April 14, 2014 9:06:00 PM  
Blogger Joe Tuscano said...

I didn't want to really get into this debate, but I believe it is an extreme insult to have two team tournament champions in a season. The PIAA has two team trophies, and often it is given to two different teams in a season. How can the PIAA hold one tournament specifically to crown a team champion in both classes in February, then turn around a month later and give the team title to possibly different teams? It is craziness.

And I am not backpedalling. I am trying to point out that the tournaments leading up to the state event is enough of an elimination process without having to include more entrants.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014 11:18:00 AM  
Anonymous matk h said...

I personally think Brendan was top 8 or higher in all 3 years so far ..it just hasn't worked out for him so far ..sitting in the stands this year and watching kids on that podium that we no hes as good as our better and him not being there was hard to swallow but they did what they had to do ..we didn't and placing at states is the dream of all high school wrestlers ..I just think kids need to work harder and whatever happens happens ..I personally think we shouldn't even have a section tournament at all ..whips regionals and states ..the cream will rise to the top..tyhe

Tuesday, April 15, 2014 3:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe that it is more important at the AAA level. Three spots for the WPIAL is rediculous and should never been approved. I understand why it was so hold the lesture. If anybody goes up to watch WPIAL AAA on Saturday then peolpe will realize to many good wrestlers get left at home. BTW Herm is out of coaching because he did not win too manys game.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014 3:46:00 PM  
Blogger Joe Tuscano said...

Good point about Herm, Anonymous. I am not in favor of cutting the qualifiers from this district for one important reason: It is the best district in the state at producing champions - just look at this year's tournament.

Thursday, April 17, 2014 6:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm really confused now Joe. Where do you stand? More qualifiers or less qualifiers? You're making Bill Clinton look like a flat liner now. More qualifiers to Hershey equals better opportunity for WPIAL wrestlers to show dominance and take home medals. Enough of this self defeating I shoulda' done better to get there!!! mentality. Look no further then the NCAA RPI System. The Big Ten equates to the WPIAL. The WPIAL is usually so tough that squeaking by at fourth place is equivalent to winning the Central Mountain Region. No shame in taking fourth, you live again next week to medal or even win it. Heck I wish we could even get some 5th place wild cards in if they deserve it.

Thursday, April 17, 2014 3:09:00 PM  
Blogger Joe Tuscano said...

I am against adding more qualifiers. The tournament is already too long and I've shown you the statistics that indicate overwhelming majority of championships won by region champs or runners-up.

I am not in favor of cutting the three qualifiers from the SW region because it is one of, if not the best, region in the PIAA for wrestling.

My argument is that more qualifiers don't make for more chances to win a gold medal, or even a silver one.

Monday, April 21, 2014 8:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where are these stats you speak of? No one suggested cutting the three qualifiers but rather adding another from our area. The reason the tournament is too long is because it is mismanaged regarding their efficiency in running a tournament. Taking the fourth place finisher from the WPIAL certainly will play a factor in who wins the gold and silver. Don't forget the fourth placer may beat a wrestler who could win that medal although they don't win it themselves. It's a pretty dynamic thing this PIAA tournament. If it was as simple as you portray it....your picks would be spot on.

Saturday, April 26, 2014 8:06:00 AM  
Blogger Joe Tuscano said...

Sorry, I should have put those numbers up again:

Over the past three seasons, only nine wrestlers won state titles starting from a position that was not first or second in the region and eight were in Double-A. In Class AAA, there was only one wrestler, Dalton Macri of Canon-McMillan, who was runner-up at 120 in 2013. Macri entered the tournament as the third-place finisher in the WPIAL

Actually, the tournament is not mismanaged. It runs incredibly smooth because it has to in order not to finish at midnight. The theory that the more wrestlers you take to the state tournament means more chances to win gold doesn't stand up to the fact 75 of 84 wrestlers who won gold were either first or second in the region.

Monday, April 28, 2014 5:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In regards to different teams being crowned champion in the same season, doesn't the NCAA do that? Also, yes the gold medal does carry the most meaning but I think you are placing way too much emphasis on that. I feel like you are on the right track with your idea, but there are definitely flaws in it. In regard to your first reply, every team that goes to states would love seven champions, but accumultation of medals is very important since seven golds isnt likely. In the NCAA's i think they refer to the top 8 finishers as All-Americans. I'm sure you could find some similar statistic about national champions being either 1st or 2nd in their respected conference, but you know what? The NCAA still has a 64 man bracket and all wrestlers still have to wrestle. Year after year whether it is in NCAA's or the state tournament there are upsets that people enjoy. Finally, PA is very easily considered one of the best wrestling states if not the best wrestling state in the US. Ya, maybe the guys who take 3rd, 4th, or 5th in a region arent goin to win a state championship, but states is a meat grinder. It wouldnt be out of the question to imagine an 8th place PA finisher placing higher than that in any other state. A top 8 finish in PA is something to be proud of, no doubt.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014 2:01:00 AM  
Anonymous Nick said...

Joe, you have to be an old vet of h.s wrestling (like you and me) to appreciate what the PIAA tourney used to be like. It is now simply a MONEY-MAKER for the PIAA. They don't care about the quality of the wrestling or the fans. It all started with awarding 8 medals and the move to Giant Center and the use of 6 or 8 mats. I went to Giant Center 2x, the last time being in 2006, and I'll never go again. They have since added some UPPER weight classes which produces some boring and longer sessions at states. A 20-man bracket simply dilutes the field even more at a time when participation is a lot lower than say the 60's, 70's and 80's. There MAY BE more schools with wrestling teams (I read that fact somehwere) but not more wrestlers. Back in the day, teams were 3 and 4 deep at most weights and eliminations were a big deal. A forfeit at sectionals was a rarity back then but now it's the standard. And dual meets are virtually meaningless these days AND poorly attended. As for states, I watched the finals on TV again as I always do and the number of empty seats was unbelievable compared to decades ago. No wonder the PIAA wants a 20-man bracket! They need more family members and students from more schools to attend to increase revenue. Plus, then these current day fans can go and see if their 4th or 5th place guy can at least get a medal for finishing 8th!! You can have it!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014 11:39:00 AM  
Blogger Joe Tuscano said...

Again, medaling at the state tournament is an accomplishment.

The NCAA has a 64-man bracket because it's a national event and I agree with that premise because their event encapsules the nation while the PIAA of course is just one state. Notice that both tournaments reward the top 8. The status of being the, say, eighth best wrestler in a weight in the NCAA carries more punch.

As for upsets, there were some incredible upsets in this year's PIAA tournament: Phillippi, Krivus, Kemerer, Lizak.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014 12:58:00 PM  
Blogger Joe Tuscano said...

In my opinion, Pennsylvania consistently presents the best wrestling in the country.

One point I neglected to make in this discussion. Not everyone who wrestles makes it a year-round commitment. The ones who do are usually, usually the ones who land at the top of the awards stand.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014 1:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Nick
Your attitude is exactly what wrestling does not need. I'm glad to hear you don't attend PIAA's anymore. I bet you still like leaded gasoline, VCR's and soda fountains. Joe according to your stats regard regional finishers to PIAA gold and silver medalists... It would stand to reason that this number will increase if more contestants have an opportunity. I guess time will only tell.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014 10:58:00 AM  
Blogger Joe Tuscano said...

"It would stand to reason that this number will increase if more contestants have an opportunity."

No, it won't. Just because you have more people participating doesn't mean that those numbers will change. The four extra wrestlers added to each weight class still come out of a pool of wrestlers who could not qualify under the current setup. The PIAA is not leaving potential state champions behind. Maybe some placewinners, but not champions.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014 11:59:00 AM  

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