October 21. 2008 10:44PM
Fit, not size, key for Hawkeye coaching staff
By J.R. Ogden
Tom Brands Iowa coach
Tom Brands answered the question with his own question.
"Who said it had to be that way?" he said about his rather non-traditional coaching staff at the University of Iowa.
Unlike most wrestling staffs with a heavyweight assistant, a middleweight assistant and a lightweight assistant, the Hawkeye staff of head coach Tom Brands and assistants Terry Brands, Doug Schwab and Mike Zadick were lower weight wrestlers.
Zadick, the biggest, wrestled at 149 pounds at Iowa. Schwab wrestled at 141, the Brands twins in the 126 to 134 range. Even strength and conditioning coach Jared Frayer was a 149-pounder at the University of Oklahoma.
Size doesn't matter, Brands said.
"It's about fit," he said, adding he's more into developing wrestlers than having sparring partners.
"We're looking for development in the room," Tom said. "We want to develop their skills in the room. I'm talking about on-the-mat development for results ... training a guy in all phases."
Iowa won the NCAA title last year. snapping an eight-year drought. Brands didn't rest on his laurels, however, and made staff changes.
He promoted Schwab, who was interim assistant after replacing Dan Gable last season, to a full-time assistant and retained Zadick.
When Wes Hand, a heavyweight wrestler at Iowa, left to pursue opportunities outside the sport, Tom identified his twin brother as the best candidate.
It wasn't easy pulling Terry away from USA Wrestling, but Tom was patient.
"The thing he brings is a standard," Tom said. "It's the same with Frayer."
Tom said all the assistants, as well as administrative assistant Luke Eustice and secretary Judy Leonard, share that standard, a standard of excellence on and off the mat.
"It's doing things that are essential to your development," he said. "We're developing culture."
He want wrestlers to embrace to embrace that culture, feeding off the coaching and support staff.
If the staff lives that culture, the wrestlers will, too, even when the coaches aren't around, he said.
"This team has come a long, long ways," he said. "They know what's expected ... we keep going toward that independence."
A good coach is a good coach, Brands said, regardless of size. He said his staff of NCAA champions, Olympians and World champions is pretty good.
"We're headed in the right direction." he said.
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