CSR Exclusive: Coach Rhoads Interview Part 1

It was a very successful season for Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads in his return to Ames this past season. CSR recently talked with Coach Rhoads about what it was like to be back at ISU as a head coach. In part one of the interview, he looks back at some of the positives and negatives of the past season and how he has the team approaching a schedule that should be a lot tougher in 2010.

Cyclone Sports Report: How confident were you in telling the team that they could go and win a bowl game during your first meeting with them?

Coach Rhoads: I don't even know if I thought about it enough to think whether we could do it or not. The key was getting the team to believe that they could do it. I had to make sure that they understood that the direction of the program was one in which they would go to bowl games and win them. The last thing I was going to do was to tell them that we should win three games next year in order to improve from last season or to win one Big 12 game since we didn't win any the year before. I wanted expectations high right from the start and that has been what he have been working for ever since that meeting.

Cyclone Sports Report: You had to put a coaching staff together for the first time. What did you learn about your staff during the last year?

Coach Rhoads: When I went about it there were three things that I was looking for and those were coaches who cared about the well-being of the student-athlete, a coach that is also a teacher, and a coach that could recruit a certain area. I hired each one independently but I believe they have created a fantastic chemistry. It's really as good a staff as I have been around in my football coaching experience. In my first season that is the one thing that I know I got right. I'm really proud that we have put together a tremendous staff.

Cyclone Sports Report: Both your initial press conference and your locker room speeches during the season that thousands of fans got to witness on the internet have clearly shown your passion for Iowa State and have been greatly appreciated by the Cyclone fans. Is it safe to say that you plan on being here a long time?

Coach Rhoads: I'd say it's very safe to say that because I absolutely love it here and so does my family. I got a seventh grader and ninth grader that are very happy being near their grandparents. I have a lot of goals and there are a lot of things that I want to accomplish here at Iowa State that haven't happened in the past. I couldn't be happier where I am today getting to be a head coach near my family and friends in my home state.

Cyclone Sports Report: What is one thing that surprised you about being head coach at Iowa State?

Coach Rhoads: To be honest with you I think I was very prepared to be head coach at Iowa State. I planned it out with specific details. What will we get done in December, January, February and I had all those things mapped out and it wasn't done on an airplane in few minutes. I took my time and we have carried them out almost to a T sticking with the plan the whole way. I guess the one thing that surprised me a little bit was all the little things that need your attention. I was needed every ten seconds sometimes when was in my office. There was just a few days when you feel like your treading water because you've got so many commitments.

Cyclone Sports Report: What were you most pleased with about your offense during the 2009 season?

Coach Rhoads: The first thing I would say is our ability to run the football. The second thing would be our physical nature and style that we played with most of the time. I really feel most defensive teams that we played knew they were in for a ball game early on.

Cyclone Sports Report: What must improve on offense heading into next season?

Coach Rhoads: I think consistency in finishing things would be most important. We would put together impressive drives and then jump offsides, turn it over, or miss a kick. We have got to get in the end zone more or at least get a field goal on most drives.

Cyclone Sports Report: What did you like most about your defense last season?

Coach Rhoads: I would say there were three things. The first would be tackling. We were really much improved from the film that I saw from the year before. The second thing would be the amount of points that we didn't give up and the third thing would be getting the other team to turn the ball over. It really became contagious at times. We'd get on a roll and we really had some timely forced turnovers in the red zone that were really game changing plays.

Cyclone Sports Report: What must the defense improve in order to be better next season?

Coach Rhoads: We have to cut back on the yards that we give up if we are going to play winning defense. The other thing that is so important is that we need to do a better job of stopping the run.

Cyclone Sports Report: Oklahoma and Texas will be back on your Big 12 schedule next season and Utah is now one of your non-conference games. What is your approach to what should be a lot tougher schedule in 2010?

Coach Rhoads: We've got to improve and conceivably we could improve as a team without winning as many games as last year but the last thing I'm going to do with my team is throw them a crutch because our schedule is getting tougher. We want the challenge of playing tough competition and we just need to keep building off last year. Our goal is to eventually win the Big 12 so if we want to do that the schedule won't be a big factor anyways. My number one objective right now is for us to improve in all areas. We have to keep getting better in both the classroom and on the football field. It's all about continuous improvement and reaching your potential. If we do those things we'll able to accomplish a lot.

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