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russelscout

Tom Brands and Iowa

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Nice analysis. 

 

Interestingly, I note that an earlier poster dismisses the similarities between Zalesky's and Brands' records as "superficial and misleading."  However, when one compares the two based on their actual results, the data shows their careers at Iowa have been virtually identical (to date).

 

That said, Tom may edge ahead of Z this year - if the preseason favorite (at least by SHP) comes through with an NCAA title.

The big glaring difference is that after the celebrations Z's title drought extended 2 more years, including 7 and 8 place finishes. If Iowa falls outside of the top 5 or 6 over the next 2 years then they will have had similar careers and there would likely be a change. That won't happen.

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Also note that points aren't an apples-to-apples comparison, as the scoring structure has been slightly reworked in the last couple of years (actually, several times since 2006).

 

Also note that Zalesky got the added benefit of wrestlers that were brought in while Gable was at the helm. The three previous years to Z taking over Iowa was NCAA champions, the three years prior to Brands taking over Iowa was averaging a 4.3 finish. I know Brands got a "double recruiting class", but he didn't get them for four years either. Had Metcalf (and maybe even Slaton) been in that lineup as a freshman(freshmen) Brands probably never has a finish outside the top 5 during his time at Iowa, with Slaton Iowa could have even been a top three maybe.

 

I really like Zalesky, but there has to be some sort of adjustment for Brands not getting the full use of his double class.

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I am completely outside of this and although I like Iowa wrestling I do not own a teeshirt or anything.   What I can't help but wonder about is momentum and building programs.  Didn't Zalesky take over at a very high point for Iowa with a lot of momentum and a recruitment time where many really good kids just wanted to go to Iowa.  It then apearred that his program slowly lost steam and slipped away a bit.  (still a great coach in my mind).  When Brands took over, the program was in a bit of a slide and he needed to first stop that slide, then start building the power house back.  This of course was somewhat hampered by the rise of Penn State and Cael now having "the place to be".  All great coaches but IMO Brands needs more time because he was not delt the same cards?

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excellent analysis by jtothep. and i agree with teach. take out the first years from the equations and the slight numerical edge for Brands grows substantially. 

 

i know expectations are as high as they get at Iowa but i think i'd be happy with Brands consistency if i were a Hawkeye supporter. they should be in the title hunt next year, which should not be taken for granted as all but what, 6 teams are basically already eliminated before fall classes even start?

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Also note that points aren't an apples-to-apples comparison, as the scoring structure has been slightly reworked in the last couple of years (actually, several times since 2006).

 

Good point--thanks! Although, I've used wrestlingstats rules changes history doc here to spread out into a spreadsheet here and only the note the following change that affects Zalesky & Brands. From 1997 to 2001 (Zalesky), Placement Points were awarded like this:16-12-9-7-5-3-2-1, while from 2001 to the present, they're awarded like this: 16-12-10-9-7-6-4-3. So the end effect on the two is that Brandses Boyz earned more in their 3rd through 8th placings than Zalesky's did. So, yes, if a curve or equalizer were applied, Zalesky probably would have averaged more team points.

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jtothep, not just that...there's more, since 2006:

 

2007: Draws with 32 or fewer wrestlers no longer got 64-man draw points.

2009: Draws with 32 or fewer wrestlers no longer exist.

2013: Bye point taken away for not wrestling in the pigtail matches and then winning next match.

 

Gimp is a better person to ask for before that.

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jtothep, not just that...there's more, since 2006:

 

2007: Draws with 32 or fewer wrestlers no longer got 64-man draw points.

2009: Draws with 32 or fewer wrestlers no longer exist.

2013: Bye point taken away for not wrestling in the pigtail matches and then winning next match.

 

Gimp is a better person to ask for before that.

 

Ahhh, gotcha. More good points; thanks!

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The issue for Brands--whom I believe to be a fine coach--is that he has the misfortune to have to compete against the Sanderson led Penn State program.  Cael's decision to leave ISU for PSU was a brilliant career move and he is the perfect guy to run a big time program in the best high school wrestling state in the nation.  Everyone is trying to keep up with the Nittany Lions.  In truth, PSU will probably "settle" for top five this season by the timely redshirting of some great talent and then go back to winning titles.  This is the one year for everyone else to get it done.  And, even then, PSU has a shot to win it all.

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The comparisons between Zalesky and Brands are most similar when totaling numbers over many years. The reason that strikes me as rather superficial, is that Z inherited a stable of returning national champs from Gable's record setting 1997 team. 

 

This list included Ironside, Joe Williams, McGinness and Fullhart.  Iowa was favored to repeat in Z's first year, and they did. I've always liked Z, and think he is a fine man. But the last 6 years of his coaching career saw the program drifting. Mocco, a 2x national champ transferred to Okla St. They were close to .500 in B10 duals Z's last season, and the future didn't look particularly bright. In his last 5 years, Z had 2 national champs, with none in the final two years. 

 

So when the switch to Brands eventually came, I supported it. 

 

Brands walked in with nothing like the stable of horses that Z started with. There were no returning champions and preseason saw Iowa having no top 25 ranked wrestlers in 6 of 10 weight classes. They finished 8th. But success came in the following years. 

 

With PSU's ascendancy, Iowa has not won the title in 4 years, but for the coming year, some are calling them a favorite. I don't necessarily agree with that, but they have a decent shot. 

 

Lastly, Brands (Tom and Terry) have a history of Olympic/World success and are getting great results recently from their wrestlers at the Jr, University and Sr FS levels. 

 

So there are plenty of other factors besides looking at an 8 year average and concluding Z and Brands are roughly the same. If a program looks strong and headed in the right direction, there is no need to panic and make a bad decision. 

 

Talk of needing to replace Brands is silly, and is mostly done for trolling purposes.

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Iowa hasn't finished 2nd during PSU's run so I'm not sure why people keep saying that's the reason there hasn't been any more championships. 3,3,4,4 over the past four year so that means they finished behind THREE teams over the past two nationals and TWO teams the previous 2 years. This is an important fact in this conversation that seems to continually be ignored. 

 

In regard to Zaleski, well I think the numbers comparison is an objective way of looking at this subject however what this discussion is really about is the Iowa program mentality. Let's face it, the Iowa mentality has always been about 2nd place being first loser and throwing runner-up medals in the garbage. I have never agreed with this and felt that as long as a wrestler or team gives 100% they should be commended for whatever accomplishment they achieve. Nevertheless, if that's your program mentality, then these kind of questions are going to come up and there is going to be fan discontent over 3rds and 4ths, fair or not. I still think the majority of Hawk fans are still behind Tom B., however there are those in that group that simply feel the team can't get anyone better. I think we have heard the same thing from ISU fans regarding Jackson. 

 

Now before certain posters have a hissy fit (Rossel) please keep in mind everything I relied on to formulate my post is accurate. The placings, the Zaleski-Brands numbers comparison, the Iowa view on 2nd place (or worse) and the fans comments about who could they get that is better. Please don't shoot the messenger, as I am just giving an honest opinion based on the objective facts.  Quite frankly, I like Brands now more then 4 years ago and if the team has a few more 3rds and 4ths, I may become one of his biggest supporters. 

Edited by Flying-Tiger

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Brands walked in with nothing like the stable of horses that Z started with. There were no returning champions and preseason saw Iowa having no top 25 ranked wrestlers in 6 of 10 weight classes. They finished 8th. But success came in the following years. 

 

Very true, the cupboard had emptied out considerably when Tom came in.  In that sense - maybe Brands' situation at the begining of his position at Iowa is more like Cael's at PSU?

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I've never understood the logic of the "Brands inherited 2 recruiting classes" argument. Every coach who moves to a new program essentially has that same scenario. The wrestlers that were already at the school and the wrestlers they recruited and brought in with them. It was stupid to say 8 years ago and it's still stupid to say now. Brands went to Iowa and had Zalesky recruited wrestlers and Brands recruited wrestlers for the first few years there. Just like Sanderson went to Penn State and had Sunderland recruited wrestlers and Sanderson recruited wrestlers. It's not like either coach switched schools and managed to pull off two full recruiting classes of blue chip high school seniors/transfers i.e. two actual recruiting classes. 

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I've never understood the logic of the "Brands inherited 2 recruiting classes" argument. Every coach who moves to a new program essentially has that same scenario. The wrestlers that were already at the school and the wrestlers they recruited and brought in with them. It was stupid to say 8 years ago and it's still stupid to say now. Brands went to Iowa and had Zalesky recruited wrestlers and Brands recruited wrestlers for the first few years there. Just like Sanderson went to Penn State and had Sunderland recruited wrestlers and Sanderson recruited wrestlers. It's not like either coach switched schools and managed to pull off two full recruiting classes of blue chip high school seniors/transfers i.e. two actual recruiting classes. 

The difference is when most coaches change schools their entire recruiting class from their former school doesn't go with them to their new school.  Pretty simple to understand I think.

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The difference is when most coaches change schools their entire recruiting class from their former school doesn't go with them to their new school.  Pretty simple to understand I think.

I understand that but what I was saying was that it was still Brands recruited guys. Most coaches as soon as they go to a new school start recruiting and even some of their former wrestlers follow as well. So even if the kids from vatech didn't follow, Brands still would have recruited kids to Iowa before the season began and you could realistically say he had two recruiting classes as well. I'm meerely saying that the two recruiting classes argument is stupid regardless of who its referring to. They still have to find room for the kids on the team and find room scholarship wise regardless.

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Iowa hasn't finished 2nd during PSU's run so I'm not sure why people keep saying that's the reason there hasn't been any more championships. 3,3,4,4 over the past four year so that means they finished behind THREE teams over the past two nationals and TWO teams the previous 2 years. This is an important fact in this conversation that seems to continually be ignored. 

 

In regard to Zaleski, well I think the numbers comparison is an objective way of looking at this subject however what this discussion is really about is the Iowa program mentality. Let's face it, the Iowa mentality has always been about 2nd place being first loser and throwing runner-up medals in the garbage. I have never agreed with this and felt that as long as a wrestler or team gives 100% they should be commended for whatever accomplishment they achieve. Nevertheless, if that's your program mentality, then these kind of questions are going to come up and there is going to be fan discontent over 3rds and 4ths, fair or not. I still think the majority of Hawk fans are still behind Tom B., however there are those in that group that simply feel the team can't get anyone better. I think we have heard the same thing from ISU fans regarding Jackson. 

 

Now before certain posters have a hissy fit (Rossel) please keep in mind everything I relied on to formulate my post is accurate. The placings, the Zaleski-Brands numbers comparison, the Iowa view on 2nd place (or worse) and the fans comments about who could they get that is better. Please don't shoot the messenger, as I am just giving an honest opinion based on the objective facts.  Quite frankly, I like Brands now more then 4 years ago and if the team has a few more 3rds and 4ths, I may become one of his biggest supporters. 

 

FT, I'll agree that your numbers are accurate.... superficial, but accurate.  If that is the extent of your "analysis," I'll I can say is thankfully, folks making hiring decisions think about these things more deeply.

 

Not to beat a dead horse, but Zalesky inherited a virtual murderer's row... 4 national champions, and a slew of other talented guys. I suspect that a lot of coaches could've stepped in and likely won with that team. As someone said, drop the first year of each coach and the numbers skew quite a bit more favorably towards Brands. Not unlike, if Cael were to have taken a one or two year leave of absence, I suspect Cody or a rehired Sunderlund could've won a championship with Molinaro, Q, Taylor, Ruth et al in the lineup.

 

 In sports there is a real "what have you done lately?" mentality. Wrestling has it too. With Brands there has not been a precipitous drop-off in performance by the team. Dual meet records, attendence improvements, B10, Midlands finishes, getting individual national champions, placing guys on national FS teams, and position heading into 2015... there are still plenty of good things happening thanks to Brands coaching.

 

But anyway, glad to hear you are starting to "like Brands now more than 4 years ago." It wasn't that long ago that you started a thread asking if it was time for Terry Brands to go. Maybe you'll start to ease off on that stuff... maybe spread your concern around and question if it's time for JRob or Smith or Koll etc to be replaced.

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I do not understand the comment of the cupboard being emptied considerably prior to Brands coming home.  He inherited Falck, Dennis, Tsirtsis, Galanakis, Grunder, Morningstar, Luedke, Perry, Keddy, Luke Lofthouse, Beatty, Erekson, and maybe even Hand or Fields, I am not sure.  I do not see Iowa as being the favorite at all this coming year.  We are something like 7th-9th in returning points, depending on whether or not Missouri's Waters points are included from the prior year.

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Something to think about. In 2006 Zalesky's Hawks finished 6th in the big tens and had 1 finalist. Mark Perry who lost to Herbert in the finals. Iowa finished behind Minny, Illinois, Michigan, Penn State and Northwestern. Iowa also had dual losses to Okie St., Nebraska, Minny, Penn St, Michigan State, and Illinois.

In 2005 Iowa also only had 1 big ten finalist where Mark Perry lost to Ryan Churella. Iowa got 4th behind Illinois, Minny and Michigan. They had dual losses to Iowa State, Okie State, Illinois, Northwestern, Michigan

I cannot find info for 2004 and earlier on the Iowa website.

In 2014 Iowa lost two duals Penn St, and Minnesota, but shared the Big 10 dual title. Iowa finished 2nd in the Big tens to Penn St, but had 5 finalists and 1 champ

In 2013 Iowa lost to Okie St and then Minnesota and Missouri at the National Duals. Iowa won the big 10 dual title and got 3rd in the Big tens with 4 second place finishers.

In 2012 Iowa lost duals to Okie St, Ohio St, Penn St, and Minny. They finished 3rd at the Big 10s and had 6 finalists with 2 champs.

In 2011 Iowa won the Big 10 dual title and tied with Okie St. They finished 2nd at the Big 10's with 4 finalists and 2 champs.

Also the Hawkeye wrestling club was non existent in the Zalesky era where Brands has brought it back with good results

Good results during the season definitely makes fishing 3rd twice and 4th twice easier to swallow for the Iowa fans. Although Iowa hasn't been winning titles they still have been in the discussion around March.

Is the changing landscape of college wrestling a valid argument in this discussion? There was no power house Penn st. in the Zalesky years. Minny and Okie St. have always been there, but Cornell has stepped it up along with Ohio St.

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Those interviews with Brands after the coaching change were some of the most boisterous in the history of any collegiate sport.   

 

Since I don't recall hearing those, I can't dispute what you're saying. Any specifics, headshuck?

 

I would say though, that what one guy considers "boisterous" someone else might call it a guy having confidence in what he is going to accomplish. Joe Namath guaranteed he would win the Superbowl vs the heavily favored Colts.

 

PA's HS phenom Spencer Lee recently said something along the lines of 'world champs don't get scored on.'  That was before he won the recent World Cadet title. 

 

I personally don't mind a little bravado and confidence, as long as no disrespect is shown to the opponent... e.g....I didn't care much for the way Seattle's star cornerback Sherman kept trashing SF's Crabtree after the Superbowl.

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Something to think about. In 2006 Zalesky's Hawks finished 6th in the big tens and had 1 finalist. Mark Perry who lost to Herbert in the finals. Iowa finished behind Minny, Illinois, Michigan, Penn State and Northwestern. Iowa also had dual losses to Okie St., Nebraska, Minny, Penn St, Michigan State, and Illinois.

 

In 2005 Iowa also only had 1 big ten finalist where Mark Perry lost to Ryan Churella. Iowa got 4th behind Illinois, Minny and Michigan. They had dual losses to Iowa State, Okie State, Illinois, Northwestern, Michigan

 

I cannot find info for 2004 and earlier on the Iowa website.

 

In 2014 Iowa lost two duals Penn St, and Minnesota, but shared the Big 10 dual title. Iowa finished 2nd in the Big tens to Penn St, but had 5 finalists and 1 champ

 

In 2013 Iowa lost to Okie St and then Minnesota and Missouri at the National Duals. Iowa won the big 10 dual title and got 3rd in the Big tens with 4 second place finishers.

 

In 2012 Iowa lost duals to Okie St, Ohio St, Penn St, and Minny. They finished 3rd at the Big 10s and had 6 finalists with 2 champs.

 

In 2011 Iowa won the Big 10 dual title and tied with Okie St. They finished 2nd at the Big 10's with 4 finalists and 2 champs.

 

Also the Hawkeye wrestling club was non existent in the Zalesky era where Brands has brought it back with good results

 

Good results during the season definitely makes fishing 3rd twice and 4th twice easier to swallow for the Iowa fans. Although Iowa hasn't been winning titles they still have been in the discussion around March.

 

Is the changing landscape of college wrestling a valid argument in this discussion? There was no power house Penn st. in the Zalesky years. Minny and Okie St. have always been there, but Cornell has stepped it up along with Ohio St.

 

All excellent points russelscout, and exactly the relevant "extras" one should consider when looking at what has been accomplished.

 

Something I alluded to earlier.... here are the preseason rankings for Iowa the year Brands first returned (Intermat 10/19/06):

 

125 - no one in top 20

133 - no one in top 20

141 - Tsirtis #4

149 - no one in top 20

157 - no one in top 20

165 - Perry #2

174 - Beatty/Luedke #18

184 - no one in top 20

197 - no one in top 20

Hwt - Fields #6

 

A single guy ranked #4 in the first 5 weight classes. The lighter weights have been consistently excellent under Brands.

 

If things were at this level today, with Brands heading into 2015 with no one ranked in top 20 at 6 different weight classes, there might be reason to start grumbling.

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I actually like Tom Brands a lot. I think he has a lot of character and really instills the right ingredients into his program. His energy level is second to none. 

 

I still question when the next Iowa wrestling championship is going to materialize. It could easily be this year, or it might not come for a long time. And this may be thru no fault of Tom Brands as he is clearly an excellent coach. Winning championships just is hard. You obviously need to have a lot of the best of the best to get it done. Cornell has a great program, but they haven't been able to win one. They have some great wrestlers, but just not enough of them. 

 

How many guys currently in Iowa's roster will ever win an Individual title? That number may be 2, may be 1, may be zero. There is no one that just jumps out and makes you think "yeah, he just has that look about him." 

 

There are a lot of guys that a decade or more ago you'd think they'd have committed to Iowa, but now they commit to Penn State or one of the other schools. Who are the 10, 20, 30 best recruits P4P over the past 6 or 7 years? How many did Iowa land? How many took team points away from Iowa by wrestling somewhere else? 

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