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Q: How much is just a pure talent standpoint part of it?
Tom Brands: Some coaches would tell you that talent plays a big deal. I believe that talent, we want talent. But we want talent combined with a little bit of Gable. Drive, desire, determination. Brent Metcalf is a tremendous example of what we're after. Tremendous example of a guy who won 228-0, 156 pins in high school. It wasn't because he was super super talented. He was super talented, he's a super athlete, but he works his tail off. If you guys sit in that room for a week and you watch you will be shaking your head like this and saying, "I know now why he's good. Because I see the output."
Q: Talk a little bit about the 5 wrestlers that came with you from Virginia Tech. Has that process been something on your minds, their minds through the whole thing?
Brands: These guys are unbelievably focused. It's not even a factor. It's in other people's hands and other people's control. It's something that we want the best for those guys. The best for those guys is to get them to wrestle. You know what, they're going to wrestle regardless, they just might not wear an Iowa singlet this year. All they want to do is wrestle, and they'll wrestle regardless. They'll wrestle unattached.
Q: Do you wish things could have worked out differently?
Brands: Answer that question. I mean yes, of course. I also feel that these guys aren't dwelling on that. Do we want them eligible? Yes, indeed, for sure, 100%. But because they can't wrestle doesn't mean that they're not training in there. Like I said, you go in that room and you watch them, you put a bright orange shirt on those five guys, you're going to see them training just as hard as everybody else in that room. They're just as focused, they're just as driven. Trying to get better, trying to develop, working under a system that they believe in.
Q: Do you think any of them would crack your starting lineup?
Brands: It remains to be seen. We'll know more down the road in our schedule, open tournaments, whatnot.
Q: Getting back to Gable, is he different than he was since he took so many years off the mat on a daily basis, or is he still the same guy?
Brands: He's different from my perspective because he looks at me as the boss. Even though I have tremendous respect for him as my mentor and coach, which will never go away, but I think he really looks at me like I'm his boss and he has to run things through me. I kind of laugh. Last night I was walking by and he said, "hey, I've got to be in Colorado Springs for a FILA clinic on Thursday and Friday, is that OK with you?" I just laughed, I laughed at him. It's a little bit different that way. You know what, the intensity is there. The relationship factor is there. That's what's important. These guys love him like I loved him. I see it. I loved the guy, I would have done anything for him, I would have jumped on a grenade for him, and I still would. I think a lot of our guys are starting to get there in that relationship with him. That's ultimately what it's about. They're going to the well.
Q: 6 months into this thing, is it about what you expected to get the ball rolling the way you want it to get rolling here?
Brands: I think so. I've talked hard line and it doesn't sound real optimistic maybe, maybe not. I don't know. I'll tell ya. I feel pretty good. I feel pretty good. I don't want to let me guard down, I don't want to lose an edge, but I feel pretty good. I feel pretty good. (Laughs)
Q: Can you talk a little bit, a couple guys at 125, 133, sat out last year, they're back this year. What does that mean to your lineup?
Brands: Charlie Falck is coming off shoulder surgery and he is strong. He's doing very well. He's had one week of practice, today, I believe, where there's no limitations on him. He's been wrestling hard, but it's been in controlled situations where we're standing over top of him. Now he's got free reign. He's a little bit wild. You hold your breath a little bit, but at some point you've got to cut the cord, so he's doing well. He's strong. He's probably ahead of scheduled, I would say. As far as if you had a panel of doctors, and they said where should he be at right now, he's probably ahead of schedule. 133, Mario Galanakis, not a surprise to me. I actually recruited him out of junior college when I was here, one of my last projects here. Very determined and a guy that's driven. He's driven by his family. He's a family oriented guy. With the things that he's been through, I don't know if you know his story, but the things he's been through, there's a lot to prove for him this year. The first priority for him is just having him come into that room and make him feel good. I'll tell you what, he's feeling good and he loves it. You can ask him. (In a whisper..) He might whisper like this and talk about it like this, cause he's kind of a shy guy.
Q: Talk about your heavyweight position.
Brands: Matt Fields is coming off knee surgery and he is strong. He is the most volatile, explosive guy in the room. Verbally as well. I like it. I like it. He says a lot of things that he probably wishes that he wouldn't say when it's all said and done, but I like the fire. I don't have a problem with that. I don't think there's a lot of coaches in the country that would put up with what we have to put up with him at some times. I say that in a positive way. I like it. I like guys that are very competitive and want it to go their way every single time. He wants it to go his way every single time. He's got work to do, but at least he's determined. At least he's bought in.
Q: Talk a little bit about the reception you've got from other coaches around the conference.
Brands: The rules have changed. What I mean by that is that when I went to Virginia Tech I developed friendships all over the wrestling landscape. There weren't a lot of people who probably thought too highly of the Brands' because of the way we competed that weren't on our team, let me clarify that. When I went to Virginia Tech it was like they relaxed. I'm not trying to be arrogant when I say this, but it was like, "Whew" The day that I got the job, the day that Gable was hired, the rules changed. You could just tell seeing them at the U.S. Open at Las Vegas. "Hey, how's it going?" (Silence.) I love it. I love it. I don't want to be friendly anyway. I want to be friendly to Hawkeye fans.
Brands: (To Barta) Is that OK, boss?
Barta: That's fine.
Q: What's the reception, on the I-Club circuit?
Brands: The reception is overwhelmingly positive. I get some funny e-mails sometimes. I got a funny phone call the first week on the job. Something like, I had to ask Gable to do certain bodily functions. That's what they said. But it was anonymous, so It's been overwhelmingly positive.
Q: Haddy: Before we go upstairs, can you go through each weight, a quick rundown of each weight?
Brands: 125, Charlie Falck, Luke Magnani. Senior Luke Magnani, red shirt sophomore Charlie Falck. 133 you've got a logjam there a little bit, Joey Slaton, one of the transfers who was beaten by Mario Galanakis in the wrestle-offs. We've got Daniel Dennis and Billy Murphy also. Dennis was the starter last year and he looks pretty good at times. He looks real good at times, just need more consistency out of him. 141 Alex Tsirtsis. Super talent. Wants to win real bad, we just have got to get him to pull the trigger. He wants to buy in. Like I said, I don't know. He's fine. I don't know what he's thinking, but I know he's fine. I know he's ok, he's ok. A red flag was raised there with the wrestle-off, but I have no problem with Alex Tsirtsis. 149, Alex Grunder won the wrestle-off. He looks to be the strong front-runner. 157, Ryan Morningstar won the wrestle-off and looks to be the strong front-runner. 165, Mark Perry looks pretty good. He's training. He's training and he's actually trained through some adversity a little bit, that's what we want. Guys that are competitive in the room and even when they don't necessarily feel 100%, they're coming in and doing a good job. 174, Eric Luedke appears to be the front runner and doing a good job. He works hard, very competitive in the room. The fur flies when he steps on that mat. 184, Phillip Keddy appears to be the front-runner. He's looking pretty good. Explosive, low to the ground, we've just got to keep ironing things out. That's the case with everybody. 197, Daniel Erekson. (pause) I like his progress. I like Daniel Erekson, where he's heading. Just some of the comments he's made. Heavyweight, Matt Fields is the only heavyweight. But I'll tell you what, he's coming around. He's driven. Boy I'll tell you he's driven. Matt Fields. That's where we're at, 10 weights. Otherwise the real show's upstairs. I appreciate it very much, thank you.