It really does sound as if you are in a position to provide some real facts about this art. Something this thread sorely needs. Can you help us out?
Apparently there were some fighters recently that went to a tourament and got arses kicked. I havent been there for it seems a lifetime ago, but the standard must have really dropped or their opponents were bloody good. I wasnt experienced at the time, but they impressed me. But I never saw Austin do much, no sparring anyway. I just relied on the fact that if the instructors were any indication, then he must be able to fight too.
And it was the senior instructors at the time that I really repected, they were good, intelligent and sound people. From what Ive heard they all left as well.