Things Fall Into Place for Brickman
Jan. 3, 2014
Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
"I don't think if it wasn't for Rick, I'd be here," said Brickman. "To leave a head coaching position and go back to being an assistant, there were a lot of things that had to fall into place.
"Working for Rick is a huge asset. There aren't a lot of jobs that I would have taken to come back to the Midwest, but this was at the top of the list."
Brickman is an Iowan. He grew up in Denver, Iowa, graduated from Northern Iowa and began his coaching career at Muscatine Community College. He served as pitching coach under Heller at Northern Iowa from 2007-09.
"To have the chance to work with (assistant coach) Marty (Sutherland) and Rick (Heller) is exciting, knowing we've done it before," said Brickman. "We know how we work hand-in-hand and what each other are thinking."
Brickman returns to the Midwest after serving as head coach at NCAA Division II Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina from 2010-13. He guided the Crusaders to a 104-82 record, a 2012 Conference Carolinas Western Division Championship and a pair of top-25 national rankings during his tenure. He had the best winning percentage in the program's 22-year history.
Brickman says it was a difficult decision to leave Belmont Abbey, but it was an experience he'll be able to draw upon in his new role with the Hawkeyes.
"To be able to be a head coach for four years, you develop the stuff you stand for and believe in," he said. "I was in Rick's shoes and understand what it takes to be successful. There is no doubt the experience will help me, and I wouldn't trade it for anything."
In his first fall with the Hawkeyes, Brickman first goal was to make the pitching staff more efficient from a mechanical standpoint. He feels the adjustments will allow the pitchers to be more consistent on a day-to-day basis and make them healthier on the mound.
Brickman says the staff is working to develop an identity, but he wants the Hawkeyes to be relentless each time they toe the rubber.
"I want, whether you're a bullpen guy or a starter, everyone in the stadium to know who is dictating and who is in charge," he said. "We're going to be relentless coming at guys. There are going to be days when we'll get beat, but we want to eliminate the days when we beat ourselves. I want to be a relentless pitching staff where we flat out compete every day."
Brickman inherits a pitching staff that posted a 4.07 ERA in 2013 and won 22 games. He says the staff has done everything he has asked in the transition.
"The guys have worked hard and their work ethic has been phenomenal," said Brickman. "Now it's getting the guys to believe that what we're doing is going to work.
"Until they get out there in a game situation and have success, they have to believe in what we're doing. It is going to be what separates us from the middle of the pack in the Big Ten to a team that has a chance to compete and win the whole thing."
The Hawkeyes open the 2014 season Feb. 14-16 in Clarksville, Tenn., against Austin Peay.