Brands Stresses Opportunity
Dec. 17, 2013
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa wrestling coach Tom Brands is stressing opportunity when the third-ranked Hawkeyes host No. 1 Penn State on Saturday in primetime on Mediacom Mat inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
"You have Ed Ruth, David Taylor, and Penn State coming to town," Brands said Tuesday during a media gathering inside the Dan Gable Wrestling Complex. "(You have) a true freshman that just beat a two-time NCAA champion coming to town. Nico Megaludis, who wrestles hard, is coming to town.
"We have opportunities to rise to the occasion. We have some tough guys in (our room). I say that because I think they're pretty confident in what they're getting into in this next event."
Twenty-one of the 28 wrestlers listed among Iowa and Penn State's probable lineups are ranked among the top-20 in at least one national poll. Thirteen of the 21 are rated among the top-five at their respective weights, including the Nittany Lions' top-ranked duo of David Taylor (165) and Ed Ruth (184) and Iowa's top-ranked Derek St. John (157).
Brands says he has seen the same approach out of the Hawkeyes leading up to the competition, even with the hype and build-up to the dual.
"I see business as usual with a focus on your opponent like any other event, except there are a lot of good opponents and a good team opponent," he said. "We have to be more ready to go, so there is an emphasis on communication on being ready to go."
The Nittany Lions bring a 6-0 overall and 1-0 Big Ten dual record into Saturday's competition. Penn State hammered sixth-ranked Ohio State, 31-6, Dec. 15 in University Park, Pa. The dual was televised on BTN, and it grabbed Brands' attention.
"We better be ready to go or we're going to get blown out of our own arena," said Brands.
The dual will count as a nonconference event because the two schools weren't scheduled to wrestle as part of the Big Ten slate in 2013-14.
"It was a big deal to make it happen in primetime and to do the things (the administration) did and move things around," said Brands. "I don't want that to be the focus. I know it's a big deal, and it's important to talk about.
"We're more about the performance thing and sometimes for the better of the sport, you have to put energy into things like this."
Brands says it is in the works for it to be a one-time omission in the Big Ten schedule, as Iowa and Penn State will be protected "rivals" once Rutgers and Maryland join the conference next season. Brands was an advocate for two, three, or four yearly rivals, but in the current wrestling climate it makes sense for Iowa and Penn State to have protected yearly meetings.
"(It makes sense) because of where both programs are at now, but if one of us starts to suck that probably doesn't make sense," he said. "If both programs are where they are now, it makes sense, but Minnesota makes sense too, and regionally, Wisconsin and Nebraska make sense."
Saturday's dual is scheduled to begin at 8:04 p.m. (CT), and it will be televised live on BTN with Jim Johnson, Jim Gibbons and Shane Sparks calling the action.