Iowa Minnesota Wrestling

Iowa head coach Tom Brands yells instructions during Friday's Big Ten wrestling match against Minnesota.

SIOUX CITY | Earlier this week I had the chance to take in the I-Club gathering at the civic center.

It provided a chance to listen to several coaches and Iowa AD Gary Barta, and I felt like I was able to walk away with more respect for all of them.

The biggest theme was the chance to thank the fans for their continued support. In a time when the football team is not quite packing Kinnick at the same rate, the Iowa athletics department is trying its best to keep a fanbase as happy as possible. Football and men's basketball pay the bills for college athletics.

And while head wrestling coach Tom Brands may not have been the keynote speaker -- head basketball coach Fran McCaffery and local basketball products Adam Woodbury and Mike Gesell were the biggest draws and the last to address the crowd -- the wrestling coach showed why he is such a big hit at these gatherings.

In my certainly biased opinion, Brands was the most effective speaker because of his ability to engage everyone. While I assume all in attendance were Hawkeye fans, I am sure not all of them were necessarily wrestling fans.

Made no difference for Bands. He is a coach that is as intense and passionate whether he is coaching his Hawkeyes in the national tournament or addressing a crowd in Sioux City on a Monday night in May.

He is funny, he is serious and he is determined. But he is also tired. Tired of having to come up with excuses year after year why it has been more than five seasons since the Iowa program has been on the top of the podium.

His is the one Iowa program with truly high expectations. It is win it all or the season was not a success. He said he likes those standards because, after all, he wrestled and succeeded under them with Dan Gable coaching from the chair he now occupies.

I think fans of any sport like this idea coming from a coach. Winning a national title every year is not realistic but the drive to do it must be a constant.

Now Brands just has to find a way to win a national title in a sport where parity may be at its highest point in decades.

The football team is breaking in a new quarterback with a team that seemingly has more question marks than answers at this point. The basketball team will be led by two Siouxland products but must replace one of the program's best ever in Aaron White, and the women have to replace Sam Logic after a Sweet 16 run.

The wrestling team has a new -- seemingly quite large hole -- at 141 pounds after the dismissal of three athletes from the team earlier this week. There are other questions to be sure, but the one thing that wrestling fans make sure of every season -- the expectations never change.

They are hungry for a national title. Whether it can happen is still months from being decided, but it was evident on Monday Brands is as hungry as anyone to reclaim that trophy.

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