Raimond Braithwaite

IOWA CITY, Iowa - The core philosophy in Iowa’s football strength and conditioning program hasn’t changed, Raimond Braithwaite said this week.

The approach, however, appears different.

Braithwaite, who took over as the interim strength and conditioning coach last summer after Chris Doyle’s departure and then had the interim tag taken off in the offseason, knows that what the Hawkeyes have done in the weight room works.

His approach, though, is about being accessible and asking questions.

Which, he said, is why he keeps his phone close by at all times.

“I got used to fielding questions at all hours from guys,” Braithwaite said.

The accusations of racial disparities within the program that came out last summer led to Doyle reaching a separation agreement with the university. Head coach Kirk Ferentz said the atmosphere within the program was going to be “demanding, not demeaning,” and Braithwaite has adopted that motto.

“Our main principles and the things that really work to develop our guys aren’t changing and haven’t changed,” Braithwaite said. “Those are things that have been proven over time to work. I didn’t see the need to reinvent the wheel.

“The things that have led to success for current and former players, I mean, those things are universal across sports. Accountability, self-discipline, showing up on time, being ready to work. Those things cannot change. Guys believe in those things, and want to be held accountable and pushed in the weight room.”

Braithwaite said his voice isn’t going to be lowered, noting that it can be loud within the weight room during workouts. But he’s also going to ask questions, especially if he notices something within a player’s performance. Maybe, he said, someone is struggling academically, or has an injury that he hasn’t let the coaches or trainers know about.

“I think it lets kids know you care about them more than what they do on the football field,” Braithwaite said.

The sleep monitors that were mandatory under Doyle can still be used by players, but only as a resource.

“Now we use it as more of a tool,” Braithwaite said. “Sleep is valuable, and we educate our guys on the value of sleep.”

The biggest changes, though, have been related to the COVID-19 pandemic, in terms of how many players can be in the weight room at one time.

“The changes I made were more logistical,” Braithwaite said. “COVID made us see things differently, and we were forced to do things differently.”

It’s the same room, Braithwaite said, just with his own touch.

It’s where a program’s culture can be established.

“Leaders,” Braithwaite said, “tend to rise to the top on their own.”