Dan Gable, the legendary University of Iowa wrestling coach, had a wonderful way of taking a question, twisting it just enough to give you an answer that was unexpected yet made perfect sense.
Tom Brands, the current Iowa coach, has the same talent.
Take last week during a news conference to promote Sunday afternoon’s dual with Iowa State in Ames, a matchup the Hawkeyes won 35-6.
Brands was asked, basically, about getting his team over the hump when it comes to the likes of Penn State and Ohio State, the kings of college wrestling right now.
“You need to have an outlook that doesn’t matter what the rankings are,” Brands said. “Everybody in this sport has had to deal with wrestling the No. 1 guy. I don’t know if there is anybody who came in ranked No. 1 and was never an underdog. So deal with it.
“You can have the pundits talk and the fans, the media. You can even have your parents say ‘gol dang, I hope my kid doesn’t embarrass himself.’ But if I listen to that noise, I’m protecting something. And in this sport, you’re in trouble if you’re protecting something.
“Go out and wrestle and attack. Go do what you were meant to do. It’s that simple.”
Think about that. Read it again. It is so simple, so obvious. But how many wrestlers approach a match like that? How many basketball players or football players approach a game like that?
How many people approach life that like that?
Rankings in all sports are based on talent, or perceived talent, and really are just an opinion. The outcome is determined by the effort put forth, not an opinion.
We’re all underdogs in one thing or another, but we can’t let that stop us from achieving what we are “meant to do.”
Brands also offered his thought on the “Iowans” in his lineup.
The Hawkeyes have all kinds of native Iowans on the team, but Brands said they are ALL Iowans.
“Their address is in Iowa,” he said. “Their home is Iowa.
“That’s what college athletics is all about. You change your location and become part of that program.
“If you’ve got one foot at ‘home’ and one foot in Iowa City, I don’t know how committed you are.”
For the record, Spencer Lee and Michael Kemerer are from Pennsylvania, Alex Marinelli from Ohio and Sam Stoll from Minnesota. But, again, doesn’t Brands’ statement make sense? It’s simple and obvious.
The wisdom of wrestlers continues to make life better — and simpler.
l Comments: (319) 368-8696; firstname.lastname@example.org