DES MOINES, Iowa — After getting burned by Gene Chizik, Iowa State has turned to Iowan and former Cyclones assistant Paul Rhoads to revive a program that went 2-10 last season and didn’t win a Big 12 Conference game.
Iowa State hired Rhoads away from Auburn, which lured Chizik from Iowa State earlier this week.
Rhoads has never been a head coach. He spent last season as the Tigers’ defensive coordinator after having the same role for Pittsburgh from 2000-07. He was an assistant with the Cyclones under Dan McCarney from 1995-99.
“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,” Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard said in a written statement Saturday. “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.”
Iowa State said Rhoads agreed to a five-year deal worth $5.75 million in guaranteed compensation, with incentives available to increase that total.
Chizik was introduced as Auburn’s head coach Monday, after Pollard said Chizik twice told him he would turn down the Tigers. Chizik’s departure after only two seasons and a 5-19 record was a kick in the gut for Pollard, who was praised for hiring Chizik away from Mack Brown’s Texas staff in late 2006.
Chizik had verbally accepted Pollard’s offer of a two-year contract extension a week before Iowa State’s season finale.
Rhoads is the only candidate confirmed to have been interviewed by Iowa State. Cyclones fans were clamoring for Pollard to hire Turner Gill, but he signed an extension Monday to remain as Buffalo’s coach.
“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,” Pollard said. “He has a presence with a ‘look-you-in-the-eye’ style that makes you feel comfortable.”
Rhoads is a native of Ankeny, about 20 miles south of Iowa State’s campus. His father, Cecil, was a high school coach in Iowa for more than 30 years and was inducted into the Iowa High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame.
Rhoads was a special-mention All-State pick and his class’ valedictorian.
“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,” Rhoads said. “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.”
The Tigers were ranked 15th in the nation at 18 points allowed per game this season but finished 5-7, and Tuberville resigned earlier this month.
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.