Schwab faces mentor as Hawkeyes travel to Northern Iowa


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Tonight’s wrestling dual meet against Iowa is an important one for first-year Northern Iowa head coach Doug Schwab. He spent the past seven years as an assistant to Iowa head coach Tom Brands, the first two at Virginia Tech.

The event in Cedar Falls will be the first time Schwab has coached against Brands.

But the meet’s importance, Schwab said, has less to do with his ties to the program — he also was a three-time All-American and an NCAA champion as an Iowa wrestler — and more with the quality of the opponent.

“We’re wrestling one of the best teams in the country,” the Panther coach said. “Is that important? No doubt about it. I have huge respect for that program, but my job is to get my athletes to compete hard. And there won’t be a single mixed feeling when it comes to doing that.”

Members of the Hawkeye program similarly had high praise for their former coach but played down the significance of competing against him. Sophomore Matt McDonough said Schwab had several qualities that would help him succeed as a head coach.

“He’s a competitor, and he works hard. No shortcuts,” McDonough said. “He’s really positive, and he’s a great motivator. He’s a great guy, and he’s been my coach for two years, but once you step onto that mat, it’s a battle.”

Brands said he saw a potential head coach in Schwab immediately after they began working together at Virginia Tech. Assisted by Schwab, Brands and the Hokies won the regular-season ACC title in 2005 and sent a school-record five wrestlers to the NCAA championships. When Brands left to coach Iowa, his alma mater, Schwab did the same.

“He’s motivated to be a good head coach, and we saw that right away,” Brands said. “He’s passionate about the sport of wrestling. If you’re motivated, and you work hard, and you’re smart, good things will happen. And he’s got all of those qualities.”

Schwab played down the idea of a competitive advantage that stems from his knowledge of the Iowa wrestlers’ tendencies and styles.

“Even if I know some things about them, my guys still have to execute,” he said. “It’s about you being able to keep him reacting. We have to react more off of instinct and awareness.”

But in a broader sense, Schwab said he benefits greatly as a coach from having experience in the Iowa wrestling room. He said he is trying to bring several aspects of the Hawkeye program to Cedar Falls.

“You got all day?” Schwab said when asked in which ways he’d like his Panthers to emulate the Hawkeyes’ culture. “Just competing, having a standard, and applying it to everything you do. Not compromising, and knowing that other things — maybe your social life, things other kids get to enjoy — if those are keeping you from a chance at a championship, they have to go by the wayside.”

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