"It's great to be an Auburn Tiger," Rhoads says. "I'm very excited to be here and very grateful to Coach Tuberville for giving me this opportunity. I'm excited and eager to get to work just as quick as we can."
Offered the job before it was ultimately taken by Gene Chizik in 2002, at that time Rhoads decided to stay at Pitt. This time around he says the move just made sense to him and he's anxious to test himself against the top competition that he'll see week in and week out in the SEC.
"What appeals to me is the chance to compete at the very highest level in college football," Rhoads says. "I don't think there is much argument that the Southeastern Conference is the premier football conference in the country. The opportunity to meet that challenge head on at a place that plays football as well as Auburn University does, that was the obvious appeal to me."
Noting that at Pitt he used mostly a four-man front on defense, Rhoads says that he's looking forward to blending his defensive schemes and techniques along with what Auburn already has done under Will Muschamp. The Tigers have been very successful and he adds that he thinks he can bring some things to the table to make it even better.
"The obvious is Auburn finished sixth in the country in total defense so to come in with a broom and sweep everything clean and make wholesale changes would be quite foolish," Rhoads says. "At the same time we played pretty good defense ourselves and I obviously have great confidence in my background and the things that we have done over the years to be successful.
"We'll take a fast look at what we're doing here and what has been very good and why it has been very good and continue to do that. Then at the same time we'll start to mesh things I know that are going to work well and that have been successful and put together what is going to be a very fine Auburn defense in 2008."
Part of the process of being a successful defensive coordinator is the ability to adapt to what an opponent does while also making the offense adjust to you. Rhoads says that's one of the things that he likes is to constantly change up what he's giving an opponent to find the best possible defense at any given time.
"From a schematic standpoint we'll mix fronts," Rhoads says. "We'll play a mix of zone, we'll play a mix of zone pressure, and we'll play a mix of blitz. That's very generally stated, but we're going to use all those tools and all those coverages and the percentages will vary from week to week. It all depends on the opponent and what they're trying to accomplish."
In the end it all comes down to two things and that is who has the best players and which players make the fewest mistakes. At Pitt, Rhoads was able to overcome a lack of talent at times to have very successful defensive football teams. Now at Auburn he'll have the chance to work with better talent, but he notes his style of coaching won't change because that's the basis of who he is as a coach.
"Before I even talk scheme we're going to be very fundamentally sound, by that I mean we're going to backpedal well, we're going to take great steps as linebackers, we're going to get off and use our hands well, we're going to do all the things a great defensive football team does," Rhoads says. "We're going to be sound schematically on defense. We're going to have people in the gaps they're supposed to be in. We're going to have people deep and keep offensive players in front of us.
"We're going to do those things regardless of scheme," he adds. "We're going to tackle extremely well. It's obvious the better athletes you're playing with, the better tacklers you're going to have. I believe wholeheartedly you can teach tackling. You can teach average athletes to be great tacklers and great athletes to be even better tackles. And, we're going to run to the football. Those things I can guarantee you."