Things Are Happening – April 26, 2019

A. All My Coaches

Dear gymnastics, this was supposed to be my week and weekend off. So could you, like, maybe not?

If the first week of the NCAA offseason is any indication, this is going to be a juicy one. The biggest coaching news, of course, is the reveal that Arkansas won the Jordyn Wieber sweepstakes (Grand Prize: 1 Jordyn Wieber, restrictions apply, not valid in Hawaii). She is taking over for the retiring Mark Cook as head coach of the Razorbacks starting immediately—and has already flown in to be like, “RED PANTS. WHAT.” (The well-staged team meeting was probably about more than that, but if it was also solely about red pants, I’m totally fine with it.)

The gymternet suddenly just got a lot more interested in the scoring of Sarah Shaffer’s Y1/2 than it ever had been before, let’s be honest. Welcome, friends.

Wieber’s successful last few seasons as floor coach for UCLA have blunted much of the “this is just a PR move” criticism that might otherwise have ensued from the hiring of a super-young, famous Olympian who has never technically had a paid college coaching job before—a background that mimics the trajectories of the first generation of legendary coaches, back before there were standards and whatnot. UCLA’s floor lineup has enjoyed a drastic improvement in full-season endurance and consistency in the last two seasons, so Wieber certainly has a tangible coaching accomplishment to lean on. UCLA’s floor rankings since 2013 have been 6-7-8-8-7-1-1. The floor work seriously improved.

Of course, head coach is very different job with very different responsibilities, and we have no way of knowing how this will go, but that’s true for every newbie. We’ve been given no reason to think it won’t be a successful move yet. And just imagine the recruiting. You’re a 14-15 year old who obsessed over the 2012 Olympics when you were a tiny, and then Jordyn Wieber walks up, and you just start peeing, and she’s like, “I want you on the team anyway, I think.”

And if the private-jet-social-media announcement was anything to go by, the amount of extra in store for us is all of it.

Does suck to be Armbrust and the McCools, though, especially after Armbrust and Griffith got the Associate Head Coach promotions before last season. Arkansas was just like, “Yeah…no,” and went out and got someone even younger and greener. We don’t yet know what Wieber’s staff will look like, but I’m waiting for Gossip Girl to spot Chris Brooks getting on a plane any second now. xoxo.

In somewhat less dramatic news with fewer private jets and twitter video teasers (get more private jets, Megan!), Megan Marsden announced that she is also retiring so that she can focus fully on monitoring Greg’s social media time and behavior.

Utah competing without a Marsden. That would be like me writing about MAG without vague sexual innuendos. Is it even an option? Is it even worth it?

Like an appropriate royal dynasty, Utah has always ensured that a reliable line of succession is in place (heir and a spare), and Tom Farden will continue as sole head coach from here. Because of the continuity provided by Tom and Robert Ladanyi, I don’t expect significant hand-wringing over WHAT WILL UTAH BE LIKE NOW. Utah should still be doing Utah in 2020.

Except for that one thing…

B. Skinner 2020

She has been teasing the decision for a while now so it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, but MyKayla Skinner has officially announced that she’s planning to forego the 2020 season at Utah to try for the US Olympic team.

In Skinner’s case, I’m sure the typical “unfinished business, dream didn’t come true first time, would regret not giving it another shot while I can” thought process plays into this to a large degree, but uniquely for her, she also seems to have become increasingly unfulfilled by college gymnastics and a code that emphasizes execution. Skinner is an elite-code gymnast. There’s not much gray area there. Despite improvements in form in recent years, her main thing is difficulty, not execution. She’s never going to be the college gymnast who gets a 10 every week (which has exactly nothing to do with her “attitude”) because she could downgrade to the bare minimum difficulty and her routines would be about 9.850s.

Elite is her milieu. It’s where her gymnastics is best rewarded, so why not…do that, even if the circumstances of the US WAG qualification approach make it a long shot?

In terms of actually making an Olympic team, Skinner has three options. 1) Get a nominative individual spot from apparatus world cups—the Jade Carey route. 2) Be named to a non-nominative individual spot at Olympic Trials. 3) Be named to the four-member Olympic team at Olympic Trials.

At this point, #2 is the longest shot. The US women will plan to have 4+2 Olympic spots—4 team spots and 2 individual spots—but since it’s looking increasingly likely that Jade Carey will get a nominative individual spot for herself through the apparatus world cups, it would make exactly zero sense to name Skinner to the other individual spot if you already have Biles and Carey taking up the oxygen on vault and floor. You have absolutely no need for another vault and floor gymnast, even if Skinner is outscoring Carey on vault and floor by the time 2020 Trials roll around (a significant reason many of us were so critical of the US women’s program approach to qualification and the nominative individual apparatus spots—it locks you into a single athlete, even if that athlete isn’t providing the highest score on her events come 2020).

Now, option #1 would be the most exciting. Can you imagine Skinner going to the final four apparatus qualifiers and trying to get her own three wins and going head-to-head with Carey for a spot? (1 spot per country from the apparatus WCs.) I would be in actual heaven. But, many complications to that. A) The US totally isn’t going to send an athlete to individual WCs to try to snatch a spot from another US athlete. B) The US’s informally named “No MyKaylas or Ashtons allowed” rules for sending athletes to apparatus qualifiers are very restrictive.

Those are…not easy to fulfill. Skinner would have to make the worlds team (translation – beat out Jade Carey for a spot on the team) and win an event medal there, OR beat Simone on vault or floor at nationals day 1, OR…make the national team based on results at the June camp (presumably also where she’ll attempt to get her elite qualifying score) and get named to the Pan American Games team and win an event there? Good luck.

[EDIT: Pan American Games is not an FIG event—but not sure how strictly they are interpreting “FIG competition”]

Route #3 has been sort of dismissed because there are only four people on the main Olympic team and Skinner is not going to have the bars and beam scores to be used in an Olympic team final. But if Carey is at the Olympics as an individual and not usable for team scores, it’s realistic that the US will be in need of someone else to provide vault and floor scores for TF. Skinner could go, complementing a Riley McCusker type, do bars and beam in qualification only, and then do vault and floor in TF.

I’m not saying it’s the most likely scenario, but I’m saying…you can come up with an argument. It’s a long shot, but even if it doesn’t work out, Skinner going back to elite seems fitting. I know it’s gauche to say you prefer elite to NCAA—because most don’t—but I kind of think Skinner does.

The first goal will be getting her qualifying score to Classic, a 51.000 AA or 26.500 for two events, which I don’t think should be too hard. She could literally just add a double tuck to her floor routine and get her two-event score for VT/FX without even upgrading vault, an upgrade that I’m sure she’s planning anyway. To get the AA score, she’ll have to add back content on bars and beam, but in the short run, she’d really only need 12s on those two events to get her 51 AA score. Very doable. Expect to see her competing at Classic, is what I’m saying.

It’s interesting that Utah has left the door open for Skinner to return next season should this not work out (presumably that means if there’s an injury, or if she doesn’t make national team this summer and the writing’s kind of on the wall that it’s not going to happen). By my count, that would make 13 people on scholarship in 2020 if Skinner returns, but who ever knows with these teams and their scholarship counts?

Also interesting is that there was no mention at all of the possibility of going for 2020, things working out well, and then Skinner returning to the Utah team in 2021 to do her 4th season. It’s sort of…I’m going to start the Olympics process, and if that doesn’t work out, I’ll do a 4th year at Utah in 2020 as a backup plan, but otherwise peace out forever.

The absence of Skinner in 2020 would certainly be a major loss for Utah—and coupled with the departures of MMG and Lee, would leave the lineups in near-wasteland status—but Utah has what is probably the strongest incoming class in all of NCAA next year with O’Keefe and Paulson, as well as Jillian Hoffman and Jaedyn Rucker. It’s a lot of work to make up, but don’t go writing Utah off yet.

In other “not competing NCAA in 2020 news” McKenna Kelley was on the Today Show—did they just now get the OMG MARY LOU DAUGHTER AHHHH memo?—and she revealed that the reason she was very much acting SENIOR NIGHT on senior night…is that it was her senior night. She’s not going to take her 5th redshirt year.

That means LSU is losing three vaults (Finnegan, Kelley, and the Priessman/Cannamela spot), two bars (Finnegan, Priessman), one beam (Finnegan), and 2.5 floors (Finnegan, Kelley, Priessman sometimes). It’s still manageable for LSU because both Kai Rivers and Kiya Johnson are expected to contribute huge vault and floor next season, but it puts a little more pressure on them to be ready to go right away, and on Bailey Ferrer to have vault and floor come along next season.

Oh, and also Mary Lou was there and did another bad.

C. Just. Stop. Talking.

In the interview, Mary Lou was asked about Dumpster Fire, and it started out well—it started out OK—but then she was asked what concerned parents should do, and she elected to go with, “I think if you go to a reputable gym, you’re going to be OK” because she never had any problems.

Yes, you need to be coached by someone reputable, like Bela Karolyi, and definitely not someone disreputable like Aimee Boorman or Chow. Abuse solved! You will have no problems!

Also gaining some traction from this interview is MLR’s mention of Li Li Leung wanting to talk to her to pick her brain (ouchie). Personally, I didn’t really think much of that. The CEO is going to have to…pay homage to the major figures in the sport and talk to a bunch of people and keep everyone on side. As CEO, you have to talk to a lot of people and pretend their opinions matter. It doesn’t mean MLR is suddenly Most Trusted Advisor.

I think no one would care or be concerned if it weren’t for what else happened with Li Li this week.

She had been cruising along so far (a.k.a. doing nothing aggressively terrible—which is an A+ on the USAG curve) until she did her first bad, saying in a Today interview, “I was not abused by him because my coach was by my side.”

Can these people please stop piping in with their theories on what you need to do to not be abused? I’m sure it might make you feel better in that “it could never happen to me” kind of way…but it could. You aren’t special. You weren’t in a better or safer environment than those who were abused. Shut up and stop it.

This comment from Li Li is a problem, first of all because it’s wrong, and second of all because it displays a lack of familiarity with the stories of survivors, a number of whom were abused with parents or other trusted figures in the room. If you’re the CEO of USAG, you better be a damn expert on That Guy and abuse in general, and that kind of comment tells us that she very much isn’t.

On the plus side (and I know not everyone will agree this is much of a plus), she did recognize the problem and attempt an apology. Such as it was. The apology has a whiff of “I’m sorry if you’re so dumb that you were offended…” but at least it was a try. Compared to the usual USAG press playbook of never acknowledging any mistakes or apologizing ever, “we’ve never done anything wrong, you’re the problem, you either support everything we’ve ever said and done or you HATE gymnastics, those are the two choices, goodbye”…this is better? Or something?

At least, it makes me feel like she’s not in the “too far gone to be saved, must immediately resign” camp, which is pretty new for USA Gymnastics. They usually hire people who are so arrogant and stupid that there’s no way forward, and that doesn’t seem to be the case here.

But also, this “oh, I’ve never had my words scrutinized before, this is just so new for little ol’ me, I’ve never been to the big city before” defense is such an eye roll. Cry me a river.

“I’ve never had a job where I had to make sense and be informed and tell the truth before” isn’t a great thing to say…

D. Meets?

The All-Japan individual championships are underway with qualification concluding today. The big news from the men’s side is that Kohei decided to take a page out of the Oleg playbook and compete all six events despite being extremely, very dead.

Anyway, he finished 37th, which—turns out—isn’t great. Kenzo also had a disaster and finished 21st. Japan…you OK? The Tanigawas are the only ones who can save us now.

On the women’s side, no legends physically gave out and ascended to the spirit realm in the middle of the competition, so that’s solid news, but it’s worth noting that Asuka Teramoto did outscore Mai Murakami in the AA in qualification. Eyes on that.

109 thoughts on “Things Are Happening – April 26, 2019”

  1. Jordyn’s floor results at UCLA are impressive but I’m also kind of amazed, Val, Chris and Randy couldn’t figure it out prior to her.

    1. Jordyn’s from Michigan originally… Arkansas is actually a good major conference program for her to get her feet wet as head coach – if she was a gold medal winning Olympian she would need to go to Temple or something – but where the pressure wouldn’t be as strong as at other major schools.

      Arkansas has made Super Six but not for a while (2012 being the last time?) so there’s room to grow. She should be able to get some good recruits and it sets up that Dogs vs. Hogs meet as a delicious clash between the two coaches. Are Courtney and Jordyn the new Suzanne and Sarah?

      If Jordyn is successful at Arkansas and gets at least five strong years under her belt (in her pants?) then when Bev retires she could be considered as the heir apparent at Michigan…

      On another topic –
      I understand Trinity Thomas is both an Olympic calibre gymnast and diver – has any NCAA athlete ever competed four years in one sport and then another four years in another? Could Trinity use up her four years of eligibility as a gymnast and then go to grad school and compete another four years as a diver (either at UF or another school).

      1. The closest thing I can think of is Greg Paulus who played four years of basketball at Duke and then transferred to Syracuse and played football for a season.

      2. Nope. You have 5 years (or 6 depending on red shirts and waivers) to compete for 4 years. If Trinity wanted to dive, she would have to compete both sports at the same time or do diving a redshirt year instead of gymnastics. She wouldn’t get 8 years of eligibility.

        There are few two sport athletes in NCAA. You see a few football/track athletes because the seasons don’t overlap and some of the skill sets are the same, so they might compete both sports in the same year.

      3. Nope, it’s 4 years of eligibility within 5 years as an NCAA athlete in Div I and II (with the exception of a couple of sports, none of which are gymnastics or diving). If you do two sports it has to fit within those years.

        To add to that – and particularly relevant for elite gymnasts deciding whether to turn to NCAA or stick with elite through the quad – the clock starts one year after your HS graduation whether you join a team at that point or defer. So you can’t graduate HS, do elite for several years, and THEN go join an NCAA team for your full 4/5yrs. If you defer more than one year you start losing eligibility.

      4. Thanks. I had always wondered if an athlete could do two sports consecutively but I guess it’s concurrently or bust.

        To the commenter regarding the eligibility of a gymnast after high school graduation – What about Sabrina Vega?

        She did elite at 2012 Olympic Trials and then was off in 2013 and 2014 and presumably graduated high school during that time (unless she had a class or two left while she was recovering from injuries) and then “attempted” a comeback on beam/floor at the 2015 Classic where her score failed to qualify to the national championship.

        Vega began at Georgia in 2017 and given next year will be her senior year she was allowed all four years. I remember there was a lot of debate about Vega’s eligibility when she first committed to UGA as most fans assumed she was going to forgo NCAA. Anyone ever figure out why she was allowed all four years with so much time between the time she was slated to graduate high school and her freshman season?

      5. Re: Sabrina Vega and others (Bridget Sloan comes to mind)… the way the timelines worked out they basically deferred for two years to do elite and then had 4 years of eligibility, rather than deferring one year, redshirting a year, and then having 4 years (this is where the 4 years of competition in 5 years comes in). They lost that fifth year, basically. She barely got enrolled in time if I recall correctly – if she hadn’t started school when she did she would not have been able to compete all four years.

        There are waivers that can be petitioned for in certain cases (Peng at UCLA is a good recent example) to get an athlete a sixth year in which to use their fourth year of competition, but I can’t think of a case when that happened for reasons other than injury. And I don’t know what the rules are in terms of changes to HS graduation dates, especially in the cases of gymnasts who do homeschool or self-paced schools. Could a gymnast delay their HS graduation during an olympic run?

      6. Yeah the six year injury situation that worked for Peng could also work out for Bailey Key at Alabama if she wants it/can return from injury. She’s the most high profile current gymnast I know of that could be injury-eligible for a sixth year, but then you have to wonder if Alabama has a scholarship for her, does she walk on, does she want to continue her academics that long – Key is from Texas so does she want to get back home or go to grad school at Alabama (assuming she’ll graduate within four or five years with her undergrad). Peng is Canadian but wanted to pursue the entertainment field which is ideal for staying in LA.

        The Vega situation for deferring to pursue elite was very loose – I’m sure that’s why she competed at the 2015 classic to prove she was still living the Olympic dream so it fit into UGA’s plan and allowed Vega to have an opportunity after she may have originally vetoed the idea of competing NCAA.

      7. Re an earlier comment about Key getting a sixth year, I don’t think Key would be eligible for a sixth year since she did compete one time in her first season and I believe to be eligible for a sixth year, you have to have two seasons where you didn’t compete at all.

        Of course, this would all be a moot point if she medically retires anyway.

  2. Spencer’s view that Skinner appears to be the opposite of most gymnasts where she prefers Elite to NCAA rather than the reverse kinda makes me want Skinner to sing the praises of her years as an elite gymnast (2012-2106) and talk those years up as the greatest years of her life. Do you think anyone might have an issue with it – remember it’s Skinners’ experience with USAG that’s important and she apparently had a happy one, so why should she not express her joy…

    I think both Skinner/Utah are holding the door open for a return in 2021 IF she doesn’t make the Olympic team or receive some Worlds/International success which would bring in enforcement opportunities and she’d go pro (therefore being ineligible for competing NCAA again). Skinner did say she plans to finish her degree in the future.

    1. I don’t doubt that most gymnasts who do elite and NCAA prefer the latter because…hello. But at the same time, it seems highly unlikely that the rare gymnast who prefers elite would admit as much while a member of an NCAA team. After all, the athletes recruit and market NCAA programs too and it wouldn’t be a good look to be like “yeah, I liked elite better.” But Skinner is such a wild card that it’s hard to predict what she’d say publicly.

      1. I’m not a Skinner fan either but I will give her credit for cleaning up some from her elite days….I’m so glad she’s trying for the Olympics so we don’t have to hear her witch about how she was robbed of her “10s” …. yes she does harder skills but she never got the hack of NCAA where less is best, and it must be clean with good form….

        She and Val are the Queens of self promotion so bye bye… and let’s have us some nice humble Ross and Wojcik beautiful gymnastics.

      2. I loved that time when they asked Skinner what message she would like to say to Miss Val for the Pac-12 UCLA v. Utah fluff/hype and you could tell Skinner was like “…who?? is that?? the UCLA coach??? why do I have to talk about the UCLA coach?” Hilarious.

      3. That interview. The first thing I thought about when I heard about Marsdens retirement. How offensive for Utah to host another episode of the Miss Val show, with their own athletes and coaches singing her praises, when their own head coach is in the exact same boat (save that she had the class to wait until after the season to announce)

        It’s almost enough to turn me from a UCLA fan into a Utah fan.

        Side note: I also blame PAC 12 networks for making Val the story rather than the gymnasts.

  3. I think Utah will be okay. Hopefully Reinstadtler will be back in top form and she should be able to contribute on all 4 events whereas she was limited this year due to injury. Also, Cammy Hall will be back from her injury and will have some key contributions on floor and vault. I also feel like Randall and Kim Tessen have more to contribute. Plus as you indicated, they have a pretty killer incoming freshman class.

    1. Don’t forget Isa will be back. I really hope Mykayla succeeds. She is fun to watch and keeps the sport interesting. She has been a great team member. She’s worked hard and I wish her all the best. I do hope she comes back to NCAA for her final year.

  4. I’m a big Skinner critic and hope she doesn’t make the team, but I think it’s cool she’s making another Olympic run even though she’s a long shot. I think trying and failing is much better than any “what if” regret, and who knows, maybe she will succeed and get to go to the Olympics. She’s also such an injury free gymnast that I don’t believe she’s compromising her health by going for it, and maybe she’s learned stuff in NCAA that will make her a more formidable elite competitor now.

    1. Kind of a back handed compliment – hope she doesn’t make it! Really! I hope she does. I hope there are no injuries and that she comes back to NCAA

      1. You don’t have to like EVERYthing about a gymnast in order to appreciate something about them! You can actually have mixed feelings.

  5. Really? The LiLi “Bad” is ridiculous. Her point was that her visit was supervised and in a “public setting” which a) saved her from abuse and b) was a big complaint about the ranch that he was abusing the gymnasts alone in their rooms. To say having a coach standing next to you/him supervising is a bad thing is ridiculous. I think we can all agree having an adult supervisor with an athlete as their getting checked by a doctor is the right way to go.

    1. But that’s not the argument – no one said that having a coach in the room is bad and you’re being disingenuous for suggesting that. The issue is that having an adult in the room wasn’t enough for hundreds of survivors, and that alone won’t solve the problem – yet Leung strongly implies that. No ones saying it won’t HELP or it’s not a good practice, but it’s not enough by a long shot and anyone who followed this case knows this. No one should know this more than Leung.

      I wouldn’t fire her over it but it’s sure a mistake.

    2. Listen to Maddie Larson’s testimony and you will rethink your stance on the safety of public spaces …

    3. you know, people really need to stop with all their “this that and the other thing prevents abuse”. What prevents abuse is not protecting, employing or tolerating abusers, rapists or pedophiles. THEY and the people who protect them are the ones who cause abuse, and we need to be really clear on that.

  6. LOL doesn’t/didn’t one of Retton’s kids train at Texas Dreams? Which was home to at least one Nassar survivor?

    1. Yes, Emma Kelley is training there! But maybe texas dreams isn‘t reputable enough? They never had a world or olympic medalists (except ragan as the alternate in 2018)

      1. 2010 wasn’t an Olympic year so Chelsea was “only” a Worlds alternate. Great for sure, but it doesn’t carry the same glory as Olympic alternate.

        Is Emma Kelley the one starting at LSU in the fall?

      2. Yes according to emma‘s instagram she starts an LSU in 2020 (so i guess she starts in fall of 2019 and 2020 is her first season as a competitor or does it mean she starts in the fall of 2020?)

        Sorry i forgot about davis, but did alternates back then also receive medals? I was just thinking about medalists but didn’t want to diminish chelseas accomplishments, sorry

      3. I’m fuzzy about Chelsea Davis and the 2010 Worlds team. I know she injured her knee pretty bad either in the lead-up to Worlds or at Worlds – if it was at the event perhaps she was a team member but the original alternate actually competed.

        I believe Chelsea took the whole next year off and then decided not to pursue the 2012 Olympics and enrolled at UGA in September 2011 so she was a freshman during the 2012 season. Davis actually competed all four events as a freshman in some meets – the only time in her UGA career her knee issues allowed her to compete floor and beam.

  7. “Skinner is an elite-code gymnast.”

    I think this is debatable. In my eyes, skinner has been more successful in NCAA than in elite. As an elite she struggled because she couldn’t out-difficulty Simone (or Aly or Maggie, for the VT/FX team player role) and was often superfluous/stuck in alternate land despite being a strong vaulter and floor worker. She seems upset that she’s not the undisputed NCAA champion but being in the top 3 – 5 NCAA competitors is IMO more dominant than most of her elite career, and she’s gotten way more attention for it too. She seems like someone who won’t rest til she’s #1 which is in some ways very admirable, but also might just be unrealistic.

    1. Totally agree.
      I do think part of Skinner’s beef with her scores is that she feels she should get the highest scores because she is competing the highest difficulty, and doing so with no major errors. She wants her scores to reflect her difficulty, and she *will* get that in elite, though she’s looking to be #3 in the country on her best two events, which I agree, is a lower ranking than she can achieve in NCAA.
      The problem is that Skinner doesn’t acknowledge the built-in deductions in all of her routines. But also, the judges disregard similar deductions for other gymnasts, so I can see why she expects them to be “blinded by difficulty,” as Spencer mentioned prior to her frosh year.

      1. As a senior NCAA gymnast Skinner might/might have received more rewards than in her first three years as many of the judges do tend to ignore some things in a senior gymnast.

      2. I think her problems with NCAA scoring is that other very blatant errors did not receive the deductions getting higher scores and she got hammered. I realize that there were issues with form but watching a full season and seeing routines that had huge red flags and visibal deductions i.e. steps, hops slides low landings etc and the deductions were not given, she had a right to be angry.

      3. The judges ignored plenty of Skinner’s blatant errors too. You just have to look at her bars scores to see that.

    2. Elite code gymnast vs NCAA code gymnast isn’t a matter of whether the athlete got more accolades in elite or in NCAA. Any athlete who is good enough to be an alternate for the team that won Olympic gold by more than 8 points is of course going to be a standout in NCAA where most of the athletes were good but not great level 10s. The question of elite code gymnast or NCAA code gymnast is asking which code plays more to the athlete’s strengths. For Skinner, that is unquestionably the elite code. Her strength has always been her ability to throw huge difficulty skills. She has never been an athlete with impeccable form, even in NCAA when she cleaned her form up substantially. That doesn’t mean she’s doomed to be mediocre in NCAA compared to all the athletes in the entire country. For a lot of NCAA athletes, the level of difficulty in the NCAA is really at their max. For example, you see a lot of Yurchenko fulls in NCAA where that is the maximum the athlete is capable of executing in terms of difficulty, and it shows in the form. For a person like Skinner who could do a Yfull as a timer, of course her form on NCAA skills is going to be better than people who are just barely capable of competing these skills. But compared to other former elites, Skinner isn’t really a standout because a code in which scoring becomes entirely about execution once an athlete has met a basic (for former elites) level of difficulty is a code that entirely ignores her strength. On the contrary, someone like Kyla Ross stands out even compared to other former elites because her strength has always been her form, not huge difficulty skills.

      1. I understand the difference between elite and NCAA and am familiar with Skinner’s career in both. I don’t see how you can argue that a code plays to someone’s strengths if they’re less successful under that code. It might reflect their personal goals and passions within the sport more, but it isn’t playing to their strengths if they’re not getting better results under it. Codes are for scoring. Scoring is for winning.

        Skinner has thrown some legit difficulty in elite before but she’s (almost) never been able to compete with the top solely on the basis of difficulty (girl does have a world VT bronze so don’t want to pretend like that never happened). But for the majority of last quad she wasn’t pulling a Maria Paseka and lurching through Chengs to get medals – she usually couldn’t even break out of the US pool to get on a team. I don’t think her form holds her back much at all in NCAA – if she’d actually hit all her routines in the AA this year she’d have been second or first.

        In my eyes Skinner gets some very generous scoring as an NCAA star because while her form and landings aren’t always perfect, she can throw good difficulty and make it look easy. It sucks that she didn’t get more glamour scores (10s instead of 9.95 or 9.975) this season because that clearly matters to her, but her over scoring adds up over the season and you can see it in her beam and bars rankings particularly. I actually think NCAA is made for skinner – if they only take for one or two major deductions per routine and you’ve got lots of tiny ones but can land a double double with a lunge… you’re pretty set. I think it’s so weird how she thinks she’s getting so screwed because of a few FX or VTs that were 0.025 lower than they should’ve been.

        Anyway maybe her form in elite will be a bit better since NCAA, or maybe she actually has the Amanar/Cheng this go-round… but like, there are three current NT gymnasts in addition to Skinner who can throw a reasonable Moors in competition, so she better be ready to really compete on difficulty if that’s her strategy.

      2. This post just nailed it and said everything I wanted to say better than I could ever say it.

      3. The way you’re defining “less successful under that code” doesn’t really make sense for this discussion, though. The level of competition in international FIG competitions is not at all comparable to the level of competition in NCAA gymnastics. 95% of NCAA gymnasts would be blown out of the water in international FIG competitions. Of course it’s harder to be successful in international FIG competitions. The athletes competing are capable of far more. The question is which code amplifies the athlete’s abilities.

        A good way to exemplify this question is to ask what would happen to the athletes if elite went back to the 10.0 system and NCAA went to D+E scoring. For athletes like Mykayla Skinner, she might not have been able to make the national team if elite still did 10.0 scoring, but she’d be dominating the NCAA if NCAA did D+E scoring. For athletes like Trinity Thomas, she would’ve been far more successful in elite if elite still did 10.0 scoring. This is all a function of what each athlete’s strength is: difficulty or execution. Asking whether an athlete is an elite code gymnast or an NCAA code gymnast is really a fancy way of asking whether their strength lies more in execution of in difficulty. Some people are a bit of a combination of both. For Mykayla Skinner, it is clear that her strength is far more in her difficulty than her execution.

        I don’t mean any of this to say that she was “underscored” in NCAA (by and large she was not since scoring is almost entirely on form) or that she would be wildly successful in elite (there are many other USA elites who have very high difficulty). All I mean to say is that elite code gymnast vs. NCAA code gymnast is a question of which code magnifies the gymnast’s ability when you hold the ability of her competitors constant. For someone like Skinner, it is the elite code. For someone like Thomas, it is the NCAA code. Skinner is still quite the long shot for getting one of the USA’s spots at the 2020 Olympics, but she’d be completely out of it if elite scoring were done the same way NCAA scoring is done.

      4. I still do not agree with you, and I wrote out another long explanation, but then I was like… this is totally not something that has to be resolved. 😀

        It will be interesting to see what Skinner’s E looks like once she starts pushing her own difficulty boundaries again, and see how her difficulty stacks up against the newer seniors this year! I feel like her return made me more interested in elite – not because I like Skinner but just because it shakes stuff up!

      5. I agree about wanting to see how her form is in elite! I am particularly interested to see her bars because I feel like that is the event where there tends to be the greatest disparity between NCAA and elite. Because of the NCAA requirements, most athletes only have 3-4 elite level skills in their routines. And unlike floor and beam, there is no way to really buy yourself a breather on bars. We’ve seen from the training videos of a number of elites that they are often capable of having clean form on bars skills when the skills are done in isolation, but things start to get a lot sloppier when they’re doing routines that have 8 D+ skills without a rest. I hope she can maintain the cleaner form she developed in NCAA on bars, but I think it’s far from a guarantee considering how much more taxing an elite bars routine is compared to an NCAA bars routine.

      6. “Any athlete who is good enough to be an alternate for the team that won Olympic gold by more than 8 points is of course going to be a standout in NCAA where most of the athletes were good but not great level 10s.”

        I disagree – Maddie Kocian was actually on that team and while she’s a strong role-player for UCLA she is far from being a star.

    3. Yes, I do agree that Skinner just wants to bee the best. It’s very easy to see her getting bored of elite again once she definitely isn’t nearly the best one around and goes back to Utah for a final season after all.

  8. I also feel like Skinner is an elite gymnast rather than a college gymnast, although she’s also great there. For me, as much as it had to do with her approach to routine construction, it has to do with the fact that she’s competitive and what she really wants is to win. In college, winning is supposed to be secondary (and honestly I think some more of the Skinner approach wouldn’t be bad for the sport’s integrity at the college level as, you know, a sport).

    The co-announcements also make me wonder how long she’s known about Megan Marsden and whether that played into her decision at all, especially seeing as she doesn’t really seem to be looking at going back after the Olympics assuming she makes it.

    1. Oh yeah – in attitude, definitely, she is more of an elite. I feel like Skinner isn’t a good team player – and I don’t mean that as shade, just that it’s not what primarily motivates her and not how she competes best. But Spencer is saying she’s an “elite-code gymnast” and I don’t really agree. She has no shot at being the top AA gymnast in elite (and IMO not a lot of chance at being the #2 or #3), whereas she is a genuine contender for that title in NCAA.

      I have the impression that she likes throwing the big difficulty way way more than doing ‘easy’ (for her) gymnastics, so maybe she’s also just bored doing NCAA.

      1. Exactly. I think she values the team benefits of college gymnastics, but it isn’t what gets her out of bed in the morning. They’re a good thing for her, not THE thing.

        As for her being an elite code gymnast, I think she is as much as that code is the one that seems more in line with how she most enjoys gymnastics, regardless of her success.

      2. “I have the impression that she likes throwing the big difficulty way way more than doing ‘easy’ (for her) gymnastics,”

        Idk, I think if she got the attention and scores and won all the things doing difficulty that is watered down for her but exceptional for NCAA, she would be plenty satisfied. The girl just seems to want all the external sources of validation. Tell me she would be leaving NCAA if she got 10s for every routine she stuck. I think she would totally stay for that.

      3. Why can’t she be both. She was a great team member and she competed the tough stuff. It doesn’t have to be one or the other

  9. Mary Lou Retton and McKenna Kelley seem a little fake to me — a lot of crying and emotion, but no tears at Nationals. It’s like they just want to be famous — another Kardashian family, if you will. I hope the family disappears and the media quits looking to Mary Lou for comments after everything.

    The Today Show should have featured Finnegan or Ross or Nichols or Ramler instead. What was the point of the clip? To announce that a good NCAA gymnast is not taking a fifth year? I mean, no one else makes a huge media announcement like that. But now it makes sense why McKenna wasn’t saying her decision — she was holding out for the TV cameras.

    1. Not the biggest MLR fan but they did show Kelley looking emotional and MLR tearing up after her FX that closed finals. I’m sure they were invited because MLR is still one of the top couple of names in US Gymnastics. The other gymnasts do not have a mom who half of America still recognizes. That was a public interest story as opposed to a true sports story.

      1. Gee, Anonymous, ever heard of (BAD) acting??? That is what they showed Mary Lewd WRETCHED and her daughter doing. Mary Lewd is the worst fake-‘Olympic’ AA ‘champion’ of all time and hasn’t been a ‘top name’ in US gymnastics in decades. Try to get with the program. LOL!

      2. In terms of recognizability among the general public, yes MLR is absolutely one of the top names in American gymnastics, more than any currently competing college gymnast

      3. Mary Lou Retton will be a ‘top name’ US Gymnast until she dies. Think Dorothy Hammill in figure skating or Kareem Abdul Jabbar in basketball. They might have been surpassed in their fields but for a huge swath of the population they will always own their moment in time. As an example- exactly two Joe Biden staffers have received full write-ups since his campaign launch. On was a top Sanders adviser in 2016- the other was Michelle Kwan. She hasn’t skated in over a decade but she’ll always have the name ID to pull a half or full page news item in a magazine.

    2. I don‘t see them disappearing any time soon. As far as I know, Emma Kelley (youngest daughter of MLR) will attend LSU in 2020 (regarding to her Instagram bio). I guess it will just be the same: every floor routine you will get to see more of MLR than of the competing gymnast

  10. Quals in Tokyo are 4-4-3, so Skinner could compete AA in prelims (as part of the four-person team or as a +2).

    I couldn’t imagine the drama if she somehow got a World EF medal and became eligible to pursue the remaining apparatus WCs. Pan Ams won’t count, and she isn’t winning VT/FX day 1 at Nationals unless Simone withdraws.

    1. Re: winning event finals on Day 1
      Simone has gone out of bounds for deductions in almost every meet she’s competed in since her comeback, plus in the last quad at the national championship (2015 I think) she took a hands-down fall on floor… of course her difficulty puts her above all others, but if there’s another gymnast who is close to perfect Day 1 when Simone has a couple errors it’s possible for them to have a slight lead on her.

      Unlikely but possible on floor.
      Also if Simone sits the Biles again on vault and chooses that as her first vault the door opens. Though this is probably even more unlikely because Simone would do one of her more secure vaults first for her AA score and then attempt the risky one – though a lead on vault alone when both scores are merged is possible if Simone sits it again.

  11. Oh, Mary Lou. How could she be a major player in USAG and have three daughters in the sport and not have any thoughts on how to make it safer? I mean, does she not listen to GymCastic????? Cause girl needs an education, and should be pursuing it.

    I was most offended when she said if one of her daughters was abused, then mamma bear would come out. I mean, of course you are going to be more protective of your own daughters than the rest of the gymnastics community, but it sounded like she just doesn’t care about the thousands of girls who were abused.

    I’m not looking forward to another four years of MLR hype at LSU meets when the little sister is on the team. For anyone who knows about gymnastics and supports survivors, MLR is pure bad publicity. (But I still love you, LSU, and am anxiously awaiting you to be the next team to win a national title)

    1. Mary LEWD WRETCHED is purest poison, always has been, and is politically a dRUMPf-worshipping Nazi. Period. Most undeserving ‘famous’ gymnast in the history of the world. And those are her good points.

    2. Her kids may have been relatively safe simply because she’s so famous – accusations coming from Mary Lou Retton would have been a scary thing to contemplate when there are plenty of other girls whose accusations would have been seen as easier to brush off. She doesn’t seem to grasp how much more vulnerable almost everybody else is.

      1. Good point. Her kids are even more sheltered by parental reputation than Nastia was.

  12. I realize I am supposed to love Jordyn Weiber for all she endured- but this hire leaves me cold. People picked apart the Kupet’s hire and she was an alumni of UGA and arguably the best NCAA gymnast ever. I think this looks more like a publicity stunt. And if she is successful I imagine she will want to move up the ladder in terms of programs. At least UGA had a reasonable expectation Kupets was a long term hire. Yim shows what happens when your big name coach sees an opening too quickly. Although the same could be said for Durante at Cal and that worked out fine for them.

    I guess our next mystery is who comes on Staff at UCLA and if anyone is dropped at Arkansas. Utah already filled their opening from within. Now I’m waiting for the other coaching changes to start coming to light.

    1. But doesn’t Jordyn have comparable coaching experience to Kupets? She’s really had a noticeable impact on UCLA in her short time coaching there – I think that is what makes her an appealing hire, not her past experience as a competitive gymnast.

      The private jet was not necessary and does make her hire seem more like a publicity stunt. I saw that and was like … well that’s an awful lot of carbon emissions (and taxpayer dollars?) just to get a good Instagram post.

    2. She might turn out to be a great coach, but I agree, there’s definitely a bit of a publicity stunt in the Weiber hire. I suspect the chances of someone who has never had a paid coaching position that doesn’t have an Olympic gold medal being hired as the head coach at a SEC program are slim. This isn’t the 80’s anymore, generally experience counts for something. I give her all the credit in the world for getting that UCLA team into shape, but head coach seems like a reach to me.

      The Kupets hire was even crazier, but I just assumed Suzanne was actually going to be coaching the team. Weiber better hire some experienced assistants if the McCools/Pisani are leaving. Assistants that aren’t Chris Brooks. If you’re 23 and you just got a job that you maybe aren’t qualified for, don’t hire your boyfriend even if you think he’s the greatest coach in the world.

      1. This is why I really hope Brooks doesn’t go to Arkansas, even though he seems to be a great coach. If her first big move is to hire her boyfriend, she’s going to get DRAGGED for it, if not by portions of the gymternet then certainly by the general Arkansas sports fan/media base.

        (Honestly I’ve never quite understood the proliferation of spousal coaching tandems in NCAA gymnastics, because don’t government employers usually have pretty strict nepotism laws?)

      2. Who knows, maybe Brooks will come on as a volunteer assistant coach. With Jo’s salary, they could certainly afford it.

        Of course Jo’s resume is thin for the hire, and she got the job for her name, which I think will do wonders for recruitment. Though she absolutely wouldn’t have gotten the job without her fame, that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have the skill to do a phenomenal job. She has her head on straight, she knows she needs assistant coaches to complement her strengths, and she has the results from coaching UCLA floor to back her. I hope Pisani stays on, the team has been strong on beam and the continuity would be good for them. It sounds like the athletic director is prepared to provide all the direction she needs to grow into the administrative aspects of the job.

      3. Aren’t several of the spousal hires a one-paid-position, one-volunteer-position situation?

      4. Dear gawd- Can you imagine if Brooks came on board and thy had two partnered sets of coaches at this school It didn’t work so well the last time their was a breakup at Arkansas. And it could be the Clarks 2.0 where the coach in the bigger position gets canned partly because the spouse/coach in the lesser position coaches the apparatus that causes problems. It seems like three quarters of the teams in the SEC had husband/wife combos at the turn of the decade- the Pattersons, the Carks, the Thompsons, the Cooks, the Garrisons… am I missing anyone. Rhonda Faehn’s souse was at leas the coach of a different sport.

    3. I thought the Kupets hire at Georgia was fairly absurd, but I think the Jordyn hire is excellent. I entirely disagree with those who have said (and it’s not just you) that she’ll bolt for a bigger program or come back to UCLA at some point. She has the ability to win championships at Arkansas and make it a big-name program. I get that she’s young and inexperienced, but she shows so much promise as a leader and coach that I would have gambled on her too.

      1. Kupets will never get full credit in everyone’s eyes for coaching UGA until a certain volunteer coach steps away from the program.

        I hope Jamie Pisani stays on at Arkansas as well and works with Jordyn. Arkansas is actually the perfect SEC program to hire a relatively inexperienced coach – they haven’t been considered a top team since the 2012 Super Six (I think UGA had a beam meltdown and allowed Arkansas to sneak into the final), have only had one coach since the program began in 2004 (two if you count the husband/wife thing), and her name for recruiting is bigger than Pisani’s.

        If Jordyn is successful at Arkansas and proves she can handle coaching in a big name conference – gets Arkansas into the night session at SECs for the first time, and makes a few national championship but winning at regionals – I can see her being an attractive replacement when Bev retires at Michigan (Jordyn is from the state) and Pisani stepping into the head coaching role at Arkansas.

      2. I would like to see Elise Ray at Michigan once Bev retires. And I would like to see it fairly soon. Bev has done a great job at UM, but there have been two situations this past year that would have had almost any other head coach in any sport in some hot water. Yet, the narrative around her is that she persevered through a season of distractions — those distractions were created by Michigan.

    4. I don’t know if the Yim comparison is all that fair (if nothing else than because Jordyn hasn’t really officially started at Arkansas, let alone left it). Tabitha left her head coaching job at Arizona for her alma mater. An alma mater that, as much as I would like them to be, isn’t a top program. I agree that hiring Jordyn to be a head coach at any school is a gamble. And the announcement, while fun and cute, was a bit OTT. It’ll be interesting to see what happens and I truly wish her the best.

      As for UCLA I was hoping for an internal hire that would have allowed Jordyn to be a PAID assistant coach there. Still hoping for Chris or Randy to be made head coach, but we shall see.

  13. Leung was rightly EVISCERATED on Twitter. Great ‘sorry not sorry’ non-apology, beeyotch!

  14. I love your commentary! You make me laugh, and tell it like it is!!! Thank you for this!! ❤️

    1. Two things:

      1) people are giving her shit in the comments

      2) In other softball leagues (I.e. the one I played in in high school) that would be an automatic out. It has nothing to do with sportsmanship and everything to do with the fact that throwing a metal bat isn’t safe

    2. Awesome for her. We need more women athletes like this who aren’t afraid to have spirit and personality. Male college football and basketball players do the same type of stuff (and baseball players) and are applauded for it, so a woman should be as well.

      Anyone having issues in the comments with it is probably a loser who never succeeded at anything in their life.

      1. Considering the person above you pointed out that this is legitimately unsafe for the people around her, I find your “yas queen” response a little concerning

      2. “The gymnastic community is a really petty, ugly community.”

        You’re not wrong that gymnastics fans can be silly about various things, but if you really feel like this you should probably get out in the world more.

  15. Jordyn has been coaching for several years and Kupets got job with zero coaching experience. Suzanne got her that job. It is sad how UGA handled their coaching hire, the way it went down with Danna and then several UGA alums that has actual coaching experience were ignored. Georgia loves to say “we are family”, but they they are the furthest thing from it. Just look at the track record of what has happened to several alums. I hope Jordyn finds a great staff and can recruit well and build her own program. UCLA would have been great, but this gives her a little breathing room and will not have to follow a legend. Not that Mark Cook did not do a great job building it up, but hopefully she can build on what he created. Look at the love Jordyn is getting, and deservedly so. I think she will be great. The SEC will so much fun to watch. I hope Courtney Mccool and husband find a great landing spot. I bet there will be more changes in upcoming weeks. She was one that got shafted from UGA and Suzanne. I want to see them succeed as well.

    1. It’s not just a Suzanne thing. If you follow other NCAA sports, you’ll notice UGA has fired other successful coaches for not meeting their expectations. It’s odd in gymnastics where coaches rarely get fired, but normal in almost any other sport. I don’t necessarily agree with the way it was handled, but the AD likely thought either get rid of Durante now or we have to wait four years until her daughter is done at UGA. They wouldn’t have fired her while her daughter was an athlete there.

      Also, remember Durante was hired under similar circumstances when Clark was let go.

      1. Durante wasn’t involved in Clark’s leaving she was a coach from the other side of the country who saw a great opportunity at an elite school. She actually did well each year expect the final one, when it was obvious UGA would struggle after losing the 2016 seniors – they couldn’t let her go after a successful year with two NCAA individual champions so they waited until a 12th place finish and the knowledge the next season would likely be another struggle year, which would ease a bit of pressure on the new coach.

        I have always wondered if the plan was for Suzanne to get Courtney the head coaching job after Clark left in 2012 but the UGA AD got scared so they decided to find a coach with more experience but not in the SEC, so she would be considered an outsider during her tenure.

        Durante didn’t deserve to lose her job – it brings a smile to my face knowing UGA is still paying her contract out until 2021 or 2022 or until she gets a new head coaching position – but then it’s not like other industries don’t let go valuable, strong and loyal employees every day to her their unqualified friends. Watching the unqualified friends fall flat on their faces is always a joy especially if they take the whole business down with them.

      2. To Anon at 7:49
        I completely agree. Durante didn’t deserve to lose her job and neither did Jay Clark. Whenever DD is ready to retire, I assume Jay would become LSU’s head coach. I hope he hires Danna as an assistant and they kick Georgia’s a** every time. I feel like supporting Jay/Danna over Courtney/Suzanne is an unpopular opinion so I’m glad to find someone who shares it.

      3. @Anon — You think supporting Jay/Danna is unpopular? Are you new to this site? There are maybe two or three Georgia supporters here. Everyone else celebrates every mistake — even though the athletes of the team have nothing to do with coaching hires.

        Also, I thought Jay should have been given more time, but missing Nationals with that stacked 2010 roster just started his head coaching career off on the wrong foot. Georgia became a meme at that point — unfairly so in my mind (UCLA wasn’t crucified to the same extent when they missed out with a Schwikert led team).

        In the end, Jay seems like a good culture fit at LSU (the religion side would be hard to sell outside of the SEC). Danna will find another gig if she wants it. And Courtney seems like a good fit for Georgia. The athletes seem to like her a lot and Georgia looks good and seems to be improving.

        People get fired for not meeting expectations all the time. Let it go.

      4. Dear Anon@ 7:27
        Thanks for the reply. Yes, I did think supporting Danna/Jay was unpopular, not because of what I read here, but just from what I hear from Georgia fans who know the program better than I do. I only made the comment about Jay/Danna getting together to beat Georgia because I thought it would be a fun plot twist- I’ve certainly let it go other than that.
        Also, I was pretty much away from the gymternet in 2017 so I missed a lot of the discussion leading up to Danna’s firing and hiring Courtney. I’m very glad to hear that the girls are responding positively to the change. I apologize if anything I said offended you.

    2. I wonder if Florida will be looking for a new hire after missing nationals with a stacked team – Courtney McCool probably would love to help the Gators win and stick it to her former school at the same time.

      1. Interesting, but I actually think it would be premature for Florida to fire Jenny. She’s done well overall and I personally think she deserves an opportunity to show how she responds to the disappointment of this season. If she can’t get the team back on track after 2020, I imagine Florida would look for a new coach around that time.

        I also really like Dana and hope she keeps her job, but the McCools would also be an interesting hire at Bama.

      2. Alabama would be crazy to make a coaching change as Dana has done great things for the women in helping them grow and supporting their mental and physical well being.

        An Alabama fan knows their team and school competed hard and earned every score they received this season which is a proud accomplishment. Unlike many of the UGA gymnasts who have no reason for feel proud of earning scores because the judges just gave out high numbers without actual merit.

        Not saying UF should let Jenny go, just wondering if they’d pull the trigger after missing nationals. I will say the UF miss takes away some of the sting for Alabama because it’s easy to argue that UF was a better team than Bama in 2019. Next year Alabama should be one of the top programs in the SEC if not all of women’s gymnastics.

        OU is losing a lot but should still be a top competitor while who knows how the coaching change will affect UCLA – I imagine they’ll be OK for at least the 2020 season as Kyla and Maddie enjoy their senior year. LSU will likely drop down from Top 2 in the SEC to the 3-4 range.

        Kentucky is losing a lot as well. I hope Minnesota can build on their successful season in 2019 and actually improve upon it so they can maybe be a second seed at Regionals and a favourite to make nationals. I don’t think the Gophers are losing a lot of routines so they should be able to accomplish this. If Ramler gets to compete with her team at nationals in 2020 I will be cheering for her to win the AA over Kyla and Maggie.

      3. Courtney is still on good terms with UGA. The Internet acting like she hates her alma mater is just BS. Stick to what you actually know and don’t perpetuate rumors.

      4. This is going to sound really harsh but…how likely are the powers that be at Alabama/the athletic department to care about what Dana’s done for the physical/mental well-being of the athletes? I had the impression that Alabama had a real “winning is everything” culture even if Dana didn’t.

    3. Some of theses Suzanne/UGA /grand conspiracy posts are getting comical. Suzanne was never a favorite in that athletic department. The former AD’s wife openly hated her. Also- Sam Muhlman was the runner up when Durante was hired. Hiring Durante was pretty much a break from the Yoculan legacy.

      If they wanted to fire Danna after 2016- they would have regardless of the two NCs. Clark had NCAA medalists in each year of his tenure and Ding won 2 individual titles and 2 runner up finishes at Nationals immediately before Clark’s firing. Suzanne did not orchestrate the firing and was supposedly highly pissed about it leading to Doug McGavin getting canned within a few years of retirement eligibility. Fortunately they found him a desk job somewhere to finish out his years of service.

      When Durante was fired she had basically alienated a number of alums and donors, booted three athletes from the team for no apparent reason, and cancelled a team banquet. At that point she had pretty much lost the locker room. If Kupets hadn’t lured back two athletes (possibly three if Johnson had not taken her redshirt senior year) UGA would have not have fielded five woman lineups in a number of meets- even with Sammy Durante.

      One big factor in picking Kupets was that she was her name ID. They felt she could recruit better than a lesser name coach and she had good dealings with the remaining roster when they interacted. In this sense her and Weiber do have a common characteristic. Kupets had coached about one full year at a club, one year as a student coach, and had been coaching clinics most years. She also had a yearly gym meet she hosted in Savannah. That gave her a lot of access to the types of gymnasts they would need to pull. There was a feeling UGA was getting left behind on the recruiting trail.

      She could also appease donors. UGA, Bama and Utah are pretty much the only schools to pull in the amount of $ and attention that puts their coaches on the hot seat. Kupets had Yoculan’s ties plus the ability to show up to meet and greets with a different championship ring each time- that sounds like BS but from my interactions with college athletic donors they eat that up.

      Did we ever learn who the others in contention for the job were? TBH- I thought Heenan might be in the mix. When they reached out top coaches in 2012 they were pretty soundly rebuffed.

      This isn’t to say Yoculan can’t be messy or Kupets is perfect- but some of the comments are veering into fan fiction territory. I have to imagine a Courtney-Courtney feud to be there since they were best friends/roommates and stayed in touch after college. Also why would Bama go for Griffiths-McCool instead of Stack-Eaton and husband if they wanted a twofer replacement to Dana? And why was a Kupets hire a betrayal to UGA alum but Wieber is not to Pisani, Casye Jo, or Cortez?

      Feel free to pick apart this book of a post. I’ll have beverage at the ready when I check back.

      1. I just want to say this logical response has no place on this site where comments should be based entirely on emotion and rumor. 😉

      2. That was interesting and full of info and I liked it but I also like the conspiracy posts so I hope you didn’t scare them all away.

      3. Sam Muhleman Brown applied for the Georgia job again (when Kupets got it). Don’t know who else – but SMB had been very critical of the Lysts, who Yoculan defends publicly, so…

      4. Thanks for this post and for attempting to set the record straight. How quickly everyone forgot about Durante’s antics at the end of the 2017 season…cancelling the team banquet, booting girls off of the team, alienating the fan base. It was quite toxic and the AD HAD to do something to stop the bleeding. I get so sick of everyone acting like Durante was a victim when she was the one causing all of the chaos for some inexplicable reason. Now I did feel sorry for her daughter getting caught in the middle but it looks like she is doing just fine at LSU so that all worked out.

        Courtney was a good choice, and it was smart for her to have Suzanne as a volunteer…it shows she acknowledged her inexperience as a coach and was willing to work on it. I know the Gym Dogs’ season didn’t end on a great note, mainly due to a nervy balance beam performance, and we all know that balance beam is the great equalizer in gymnastics. It seems after Oakley fell twice on bars it just took the wind out of everyone’s sails. I still have faith in Courtney and her coaching staff, this Georgia program still has to look at the big picture and make improvements for the long haul.

        I still contend that Jay Clark got a raw deal at Georgia, and that McGarity (the AD) made a knee-jerk reaction in a sport he knows practically nothing about. However, Suzanne was certainly not the one pulling the trigger there. I remember her commenting online the day he “resigned” that they wouldn’t find a coach who loved UGA more or had more enthusiasm for UGA than Jay. She didn’t say anything incendiary about McGarity or UGA, but she seemed genuinely unhappy that Jay was being let go. After all, he was her protege.

        And AMEN to the fact that Suzanne was never an AD favorite other than the fact that she won championships. Let’s be honest, she was a bad-ass woman in an organization run almost entirely by men in the 80s and 90s. She wasn’t shy or demure, she said what she wanted and I’m sure she ruffled a lot of feathers. I personally admire her for that. Do I think she is perfect? Not by a long shot but I also thinks she takes a lot of flack that she doesn’t deserve. Although she probably doesn’t care what people say, which is another great quality she has.

      5. Thanks for the tidbit Penny- now I’m wondering if you are the one person on this thread on a first name basis with 75% of the people being named. Hmm…. On the SMB note- Suzanne pretty much said she believed both parties and could not wrap her head around any of what was going down. She said none of her gymnasts had really acted out so that perplexed her- but that she had also never gotten as in their face as the Thompsons tended to be. She had also arranged an internship for Tolnay with them in one of their last seasons at Auburn. I assume she thought she would have caught wind of them being truly awful as opposed to too intense/ The latter was her rumored assessment of them the year Auburn payed her to mentor them.

        Also whoever mentioned wanting the conspiracy theories- I am a much bigger fan of drama than conspiracy. You have to admit the gymternet is a juicier (and more honest) place when Georgia is in the conversation. I can’t have anyone messing that up! But I can’t hate your game.

  16. those interviews were hard to watch. MLR is just plain annoying, she just wants to be in the spotlight and she basically says herself.she only cares if her own kids are affected.

    But LiLi saying she hopes the US wins lots of gold medals in Tokio? that was horrible.really, that’s what still matters most? It really made me cringe.

  17. Balance Beam Situation you are brilliant, funny, original, and always on point. Keep up the great work.

    1. Left one: chris brooks, right one: husband of miss val (sorry i forgot his name)

  18. In response to other posts about UGA drama: Probably important to remember the reports of ‘Durante’s antics’ were only one side of the story. Don’t remember ever hearing the other side or anyone asking.

  19. Honestly, I think Jordyn was hired because she’s still a big name and known entity in the gymnastics community. Certainly she’s done very well in coaching floor at UCLA as a volunteer assistant coach and has great credentials as an athlete and good credentials so far as a coach but she’s not qualified to be a head coach, that’s a whole different ballgame from what she has been doing. I know right now the athletic director is helping Jordyn grow into the role but they would not be anywhere near as accommodating if she was not a super young big name in the sport. She would be expected to know everything from the beginning if that were the case. And of course she hired her boyfriend. Go figure. Now they can cohabitate. It’s cringeworthy.

Comments are closed.