ISU hires Paul Rhoads as football coach

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

AMES (AP) - Iowa State had pinned all its hopes on Gene Chizik, which was why his jump to Auburn after just two seasons was such a kick in the gut for the cellar-dwelling Cyclones.

Judging by the passion native Iowan Paul Rhoads showed upon being introduced as Chizik's replacement, Iowa State at least has someone who is less likely to wander.

Rhoads, a native of nearby Ankeny and a former Cyclones assistant, was hired as Iowa State's coach Saturday.

Rhoads, 41, spent last season as the defensive coordinator at Auburn, the same school that lured Chizik away earlier this week.

"I can honestly tell you, on a beautiful day in Ames, Iowa, it's great to be home," Rhoads said.

Rhoads, who has never been a head coach, was the defensive coordinator at Pittsburgh from 2000-07. He was also an assistant with the Cyclones under Dan McCarney from 1995-99.

"There are deep roots here," Rhoads said. "I was born 10 miles down the road."

Iowa State said Rhoads agreed to a five-year deal worth $5.75 million in guaranteed compensation, with incentives available to increase that total.

Rhoads was one of about a dozen candidates Athletic Director Jaime Pollard said he interviewed. But Rhoads was the only candidate Iowa State extended an offer to, and Pollard said Rhoads's experience and his plan for turning around the Cyclones made him stand out among the other candidates.

Rhoads certainly knows his way around Iowa. His father, Cecil, was a high school coach in Iowa for more than 30 years and is a member of the Iowa High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame. Rhoads was also a special mention All-State pick and the class valedictorian at Ankeny High.

"What my dad gave me was passion," Rhoads said before tearing up. An Iowa State spokesman attempted to move on to the next question, but Rhoads stopped and him and said, "I knew this would be hard, but this is fine. This is who I am, this is what you get."

Rhoads will have his work cut out for him at Iowa State. The Cyclones went 0-8 in the Big 12 despite not playing Texas, Texas Tech or Oklahoma.

His first order of business will be to keep Iowa State's young players from jumping ship. ISU played a large number of freshmen this season, brought in by Chizik, and Pollard said earlier this week that many of them likely felt betrayed by Chizik's move to Auburn.

Austen Arnaud said Saturday that while most of the older players have already gotten over Chizik's departure, some of the Cyclones youngsters are still hurting.

"To you, I issue this challenge," Rhoads said to Iowa State's players. "It's time to roll up our sleeves, put on our hard hats and go to work together."

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