Former ISU Assistant Becomes New Head Coach

The temperatures outside Saturday in Ames may have been below zero, but new ISU football coach Paul Rhoads may not have noticed that today. Rhoads, an Ankeny native, was the defensive coordinator at Auburn last season and Pittsburgh the seven years, after five years as a defensive assistant at Iowa State under Dan McCarney.

Rhoads said he was glad to be back in his home state after being in all four time zones as a coach and four of the six BCS conferences. "I can tell you, on a beautiful day in Ames, Iowa, it's great to be home," Rhoads said. "It is a unique time and I understand the importance of this university and its athletics program and what they mean to the people in this state. "I am proud to take on the challenge of leading this football program to new heights," Rhoads said.

Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard said, after an emotional whirlwind of a week, that one man demonstrated everything that Iowa State was looking for in a football coach. "One person clearly demonstrated that he had the experience, he had the charisma, he had a comprehensive plan on how to do it at Iowa State," Pollard said. "And the bonus is, he is an Iowan."

One week after former coach Gene Chizik left to take the head coaching vacancy at Auburn, Rhoads was announced to the media and fans Saturday. Rhoads received a standing ovation at the ISU men's basketball game Saturday when introduced to Cyclone fans. Rhoads said this is a bit of a unique time with many players being home for the holidays and with recruiting headed into a dead period but he has contacted many of the existing players and plans to contact many others as well. "It's time to roll up our sleeves, put on our hard hats and go to work together," Rhoads said. "There are recruits out there to locate and secure and the ones that have already committed to Iowa State, their decision just became that much better."

Rhoads's hire comes nearly two years to the day after Chizik, who was 5-19 in his two years, was hired to replace McCarney. Rhoads has coached in six bowl games, included the 2005 Fiesta Bowl while at Pittsburgh.

"I have had the great opportunity to work with some outstanding head coaches," Rhoads said. "Dan certainly is one of them; I talked with him today and he said he couldn't be happier for me."

Pollard said this hire was done a little quicker than the previous one. "The issue was to move quickly enough to have answers for our current student-athletes, for our current staff and for the 18 young men that had committed to Iowa State so they could go into the dead period knowing who their coach was going to be," Pollard said. "Getting the right person was far more important than doing it quick."

Rhoads, who signed a five-year contract worth $5.75 million, inherits a young team with many underclassmen that got substantial playing time last season. ISU president Dr. Gregory Geoffroy said the search committee wanted a coach with ethics, integrity, loyalty and care for the student-athletes and Rhoads has every one of those traits.

"When looking for a new coach, we needed a coach that would be loyal to Iowa State University," Geoffroy said. "Jamie and I talked 2-3 times a day every day for the last 7 days, reviewing the strengths and weaknesses of various candidates, and it became clear that about mid-week he had found his man." Rhoads said his team will have several trademarks.

"We will be smart, we will be physical, we will play the football game for 60 minutes and we will give you all we have and hit you when we come off the bus," Rhoads said. "We will be passionate and bring pride back to the Cyclone nation."

AllCyclones Top Stories