Auburn Defensive Cooridnator Rhoads Takes Iowa State Head Coaching Job
December 20, 2008
AMES, Iowa – Paul Rhoads, a highly successful and charismatic defensive coordinator at both Pitt and Auburn and a former Cyclone assistant coach, is returning home to become head football coach at Iowa State University.
The announcement was made Saturday morning by Iowa State President Gregory Geoffroy and Director of Athletics Jamie Pollard. Rhoads will be introduced to the news media at 5 p.m. in the Jacobson Athletic Building and to Cyclone fans at halftime of the men’s basketball game tonight against Jacksonville State.
"Paul Rhoads is an outstanding and intelligent football coach, a highly successful national recruiter and has nearly 10 years of experience as a BCS coordinator," Pollard said. "During our exhaustive interview process, he was the one candidate that clearly demonstrated both extensive experience and an extreme passion for and familiarity with our institution. In addition, and most importantly, he also has a comprehensive plan for how to be successful at Iowa State. He is a great fit for our institution."
"I am thrilled to welcome Paul back to Iowa State University as our head football coach," Dr. Geoffroy said. "He is a man of great character, has an absolute commitment to the dual goals of academic and athletics success, a strong love for this institution and a single-minded desire to lead our football program and inspire our fan base."
"It has been a professional goal of mine to become a head coach since my dad introduced me to the game as a kid and I could not have found a more perfect place than Iowa State," said the 41-year-old Rhoads. "I know how special Ames and ISU were to me during my first tenure and having the chance to return and lead this program reads like a Hollywood script. I want to express my most sincere appreciation to Dr. Geoffroy and Jamie (Pollard) for the opportunity."
Rhoads agreed to a five-year deal worth $5.75 million in guaranteed compensation with incentives available to increase that total.
Rhoads, who was raised in Ankeny, Iowa, coordinated the Pitt defense for eight seasons (2000-07) before moving to Auburn in the same role last season.
His resume includes a 2004 Big East Conference championship with the Panthers. Five of the defenses he coordinated ranked in the nation’s Top 30 for scoring and three in the NCAA’s Top 12 for fewest yards allowed. His aggressive philosophy allowed Pitt to score 10 defensive touchdowns from 2004-06.
His last two defenses (Auburn in 2008 and Pitt in 2007) ranked 15th nationally in scoring defense and fifth in total defense, respectively. The Sporting News named him the best defensive coordinator in the Big East Conference two years ago. His Panther teams led that league in scoring defense, total defense and pass efficiency defense once each during his tenure. One of the highlight games of his Pitt tenure was the 13-9 upset of No. 2-ranked West Virginia in 2007. The Mountaineers gained 183 total yards, which were 292 below their season average.
Rhoads coordinated defenses for both Walt Harris and Dave Wannstedt at Pitt. He was approached by Auburn’s Tommy Tuberville to move to Auburn in 2002 after two spectacular seasons at Pitt but turned down the offer. Tuberville again offered Rhoads his top defensive coaching position prior to last fall and he accepted.
Rhoads familiarity with Iowa State goes back to his youth growing up in central Iowa but also includes a five-year stint as inside linebackers (1995) and secondary (1996-99) coach with the Cyclones. He was a member of Dan McCarney’s first staff at ISU.
His first full-time coaching stint was at Pacific (1992-94) where he climbed from position coach to pass game coordinator in three years. Rhoads also had graduate assistantships at Ohio State (1991) under John Cooper and Utah State (1989-90) under Chuck Shelton.
"I have been blessed to learn from and work along side some great football minds," Rhoads said. "I’ve taken pieces from all of them and formed my own coaching philosophies, leadership style and approach to strong player relations."
Six of his former defensive backs have been drafted by the National Football League, including Pitt’s Darrelle Revis (the 14th overall pick by the Jets) in 2007. He has coached in six bowl games, including the 2005 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl with Pitt. Fourteen of his Panther defenders earned first-team All-Big East honors including H.B. Blades (the 2006 Big East Defensive Player of the Year) and Scott McKillop (the nation’s leading tackler in 2007).
"A great recruiter" is how national recruiting analyst Tom Lemming described the charismatic and highly energized Rhoads a couple of years ago. "He knows how to relate to kids and they respond to him."
"In my two face-to-face meetings with Paul this week, it was obvious that his enthusiasm, energy and warm personality would be well received by our players, fans and university community. He has a presence with a ‘look-you-in-the-eye’ style that makes you feel comfortable," Pollard said.
"Coaching and recruiting are people businesses," Rhoads said. "I will reach out and connect with our current and prospective Cyclones as quickly and effectively as possible. Helping our players through the transition and answering their questions is my immediate goal."
During his playing days, Rhoads earned special mention all-state honors as a safety at Ankeny High School. He was also class valedictorian. He lettered three seasons (1986-88) as a defensive back at Missouri Western.
Rhoads earned a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1989 at Missouri Western and was the recipient of the Chris Faros Scholarship, which honors the football team’s top senior student-athlete. Rhoads added a master’s degree from Utah State in 1991.
His father, Cecil, was a high school coach for 3½ decades and has been inducted into the Iowa High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame.
Rhoads Coaching Experience
Auburn, defensive coordinator (2008)
Pitt, defensive coordinator (2000-07)
Iowa State, assistant coach (1995-99)
Pacific, assistant coach (1992-93), pass game coordinator (1994)
Ohio State, graduate assistant (1991)
Utah State, graduate assistant (1989-90)