CSR Exclusive: One-On-One With Coach Rhoads

Cyclone Sports Report talks with Iowa State's new head coach on a variety of topics including the impact of his father, what his goals are for the 2009 season, and what it will feel like when he leads his team onto Jack Trice next year as a head coach for the first time.

Cyclone Sports Report: What role did your dad play in you eventually becoming a football coach?

Paul Rhoads: The first thing would be passion. Growing up as a coaches son you are born into it and I was standing on the sideline as soon as I could walk. Then I would go grab the tee and then I worked my way up to ball boy and then I started hanging out at summer work outs and Sunday staff meetings. Throughout all of this I would see how much effort my dad was pouring into the job in order to do it right. The other major thing that he instilled in me was the discipline that goes along with the job. I saw that there was no cutting corners or short cuts in order to do the job right. He showed the discipline in knowing your kids and how to coach them correctly.

CSR: You have talked about bringing in more Iowa high school players in recruiting. Can Iowa State compete at the highest level with a roster that has a majority of Iowa kids or does it need more of a balance?

PR: We just have to go get players. We will recruit as many players as there are in Iowa. If there is sixteen good ones then we will recruit them all. If there is only ten then we will be after all ten. The more we can get from Iowa means the less we have to go to get elsewhere. It all starts at home and we will go as hard as we can. About one-third or one-fourth of our class every year in my opinion is what it should be from Iowa.

CSR: How hard has it been getting to know your current players at Iowa State considering you had to spend almost every day since you were hired as a recruiter?

PR: It has been the hardest thing for me but now with recruiting over it's my number one thing to focus on. I'm really trying to get to know everything about them in regards to physical attributes, academics, and just their overall personality. That is all I have been doing since signing day. I'm at every single workout and things are going well. I'm getting pretty good with matching up faces with names now that I've had some time.

CSR: Both recruits that I have talked to and people who have been around you say that you do a great job of selling Iowa State? Why is this easy for you?

PR: First, it's the people and quality of life in Ames, Iowa that I love. In my twenty-two years of coaching I haven't been at a place where there has more of an amazing family atmosphere. It's not cliche to say this either because once people are here they see that it is real. At certain universities you have to stage things to make people feel good. At Iowa State you never have to do that. Amazing things can happen anywhere such as the airport, a hotel lobby, or just walking through Hilton Coliseum. Secondly, there is an amazing athletic environment here for all sports. The game day atmosphere is so passionate and the fans are unbelievable. The third thing would be some of the buildings that we have that weren't even here when I was an assistant. They did an absolute phenomenal job on the academic center and for a recruit that place cries out I'm going to be successful here.

CSR: What are your goals for 2009?

PR: I would be wrong to limit what we are capable of doing so I would say our goal is to win. We need to win right away but I don't exactly know what that means for next year. This team won two games last year so does it mean that we'll win three games or does it mean we'll have a five hundred record and be bowl eligible. I don't know what it means but we as a staff will fully prepare to win every game we play next season. The key to the whole season is that we improve in every facet of the game. If this happens then wins will definitely happen. The off-season is the key as we need to get mentally tougher, more athletic, and more explosive as a football team.

CSR: Some new coaches who come into a situation where a team just went 2-10 would have to rebuild the fan base but at Iowa State that clearly is not the case. How important is that to you as a coach?

PR: It's really huge because this team went 0-8 in the Big 12 and lost ten straight to end the season and yet these fans are still really supportive. It's really huge to our kids and the way they approach things because they are not being told how bad they are as a team. They're being told how close they are to doing something really special here at Iowa State.

CSR: How hard is it to put a staff together?

PR: It's been a timely process. The NCAA allows for seven coaches on the road at once so that was the key at first. I also needed to hire an offensive coordinator right away because me being a defensive coach I just felt it was more important to hire a coach that could set up our offensive philosophy right away. Now that recruiting is over we can fill in the rest of the staff over the next few weeks.

CSR: What are the most important things you are looking for when you hire an assistant coach?

PR: The first thing is great character. They must show me that will have concern for the student athlete and that they will have good chemistry with the rest of the staff. The next thing would be that they will be a solid teacher as a coach. To me, coaching is the highest form of teachings. We have so many tools we can use to help improve our players so they need to be really good coaches. The last thing would be that they have to be great recruiters in specific areas. I guy who has recruited Ohio can eventually become a good recruiter in Dallas but a guy who is already a great recruiter in Dallas can help me right now.

CSR: How has your family adjusted getting back to Ames?

PR: My wife and kids are still in Alabama but they'll be up here in March. The excitement of the snow really appeals to them. Having my mom and dad and close friends so close is really pretty neat.

CSR: What's it going to be like for you running out onto Jack Trice Stadium as the head coach of Iowa State for that first game against North Dakota State?

PR: I'll probably be scared to death that I don't trip. I know I'll be riding high as the leader of the program and that it will be an absolute thrill. It will probably be a moment that I will always remember but two seconds after I put the headset on all will be forgotten for the moment and all my focus will be on the game.


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