After seven years as the Cyclones' head man, Paul Rhoads will coach his final game for Iowa State this Saturday against West Virginia in Morgantown. Above, Rhoads reviews the loss to Kansas State last week, when the Wildcats rallied late and essentially put the final nail in Rhoads' firing
Under Rhoads, the Cyclones went 32-54 and appeared in three bowl games during his seven-year tenure. It has been since Rhoads’ first year at Iowa State, 2009, that the Cyclones have posted a winning record. They finished that year 7-6 overall after a win over Minnesota in the Insight Bowl.
Rhoads led the team to back-to-back bowl appearances in 2011 and 2012, which prompted the school to sign him to a 10-year, $20 million contract extension after the 2012 season. The last three years have been a tough slog for the 48-year-old head coach, however, as the Cyclones have not won more than three games in a season during that span.
Iowa State comes into its matchup with West Virginia with a 3-8 record after consecutive close losses to Oklahoma State and Kansas State.
The school’s Director of Athletics, Jamie Pollard, announced yesterday afternoon that this upcoming game would be Rhoads’ last as the head coach of Iowa State. Announcing the move when he did prompted some head scratching around the country, but Rhoads said he was not surprised by the timing of the move.
“I was not surprised. It’s a bottom line business, and everyone in this profession well knows that and we accept it very openly when we get into it,” he said.
“We’re disappointed. We’ve accomplished a lot here at Iowa State in our seven years, and we’ve got a good young team with a great nucleus of talent and leadership. We were looking forward to the opportunity to coach them as we headed into 2016.”
Instead, that task will be left up to somebody else as the school begins its coaching search effective immediately. This isn’t exactly a great time to be looking for a new coach, either, considering how many high profile jobs have opened up in recent weeks.
Iowa State will now find out where it stands in terms of the hierarchy of college football during this coaching search. Ames is a difficult place to recruit to, and there is plenty of heavy lifting to be done to get ISU’s football program to a point of relevancy in the Big 12.
That’s not Rhoads’ concern, however. Always known as one of the most passionate men in college football, he will now be tasked with readying his team for the last game of the season, knowing it will also be the last time he leads them out on the field. Despite that, Rhoads said he didn’t anticipate this week’s game preparation being that difficult a task.
“I don’t think we have a challenge to be very blunt and candid with you. Our kids will play. They’ll prepare, and they’ll play,” he said.
It is worth noting Iowa State also fired their offensive coordinator, Mark Mangino, just a matter of weeks ago. It appears a full overhaul of the Iowa State football program is in the works.