There was a void on the Iowa coaching staff for several weeks, after former Iowa wrestler Luke Lofthouse left the Strength & Conditioning Coach gig he had at Iowa for a coaching job in his home state, with Utah Valley University. As of this week, that void has been filled -- and on paper it looks like it's been filled very well. Earlier this week Iowa announced the hiring of Travis Rutt as the new Strength & Conditioning Coach for the wrestling team:
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Former NCAA All-American Travis Rutt has joined the University of Iowa wrestling staff as interim strength and conditioning coach, it was announced Monday by UI head coach Tom Brands.
Rutt's hire includes an "interim" label, but it seems like that's largely a formality -- there's been no indication from anyone that Rutt's hire is temporary, leading me to believe that the "interim" label will be removed in due course.
So who is Rutt? Rutt has solid, albeit not overwhelming, credentials as a collegiate wrestler -- he was an All-American for Wisconsin at 184 lbs in 2011 and was Big 12 runner-up at 197 lbs in 2014 (he took an Olympic redshirt in 2012 and then sat out the 2013 season as a consequence of transferring to Oklahoma). But his more relevant experience came after leaving college-- prior to joining the Iowa staff, Rutt was the director of strength and fitness at Pinnacle Strong, a company that works with prep and collegiate athletes to improve sports performance through strength training. Rutt also has experience as a strength and conditioning coach for both Augsburg College and the Minnesota Storm Wrestling Club.
As an outsider (and a layperson) it's difficult (if not impossible) to assess the performance of a strength and conditioning coach -- did such-and-such look strong? Did such-and-such have trouble wearing down in matches? Anecdotally, you can point to some problems for Iowa there -- several wrestlers seemed to have trouble at times finishing takedowns after getting to a leg, some wrestlers seemed to run out of gas in the third period, many wrestlers didn't "look" as strong (or as muscular) as their opponents (which may or not be relevant; obviously bulging muscles is not a foolproof indicator of strength), etc. Again, that's all anecdotal evidence and not necessarily indicative of anything -- maybe they weren't finishing a takedown because they were cautious about exposing themselves to a counter-attack by their opponent -- but that's really all we have to go on here. Still, on the surface, adding a Strength & Conditioning Coach who's worked in that role in the past and who has expertise and training in that field seems like a very good thing.
Rutt joins a staff that also includes Tom Brands (head coach), Terry Brands (associate head coach), and Ryan Morningstar and Ben Berhow (assistant coaches). Like Berhow, Rutt isn't a product of the Iowa system at all -- he most recently worked in Minnesota and he wrestled for Wisconsin and Oklahoma -- but there's something to be said for incorporating new voices and fresh ideas into the coaching mix. With Tom and Terry Brands (and Ryan Morningstar) around, there's no shortage of "Iowa-style" coaching to be had in the Carver-Hawkeye practice room; supplementing that with ideas and approaches from other teams and coaches should be beneficial for the program as a whole.
Welcome aboard, Travis.