Auburn hires Rhoads as D-coordinator

AUBURN, Ala. – Auburn finally made it official, announcing the hiring of defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads from Pittsburgh on Friday.

According to published reports in Pittsburgh, Rhoads accepted the job Wednesday night. However, Auburn didn’t announce the hiring until it finished the proper paperwork.

Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville never mentioned any names throughout the two-week search process, preferring to keep things to himself.

“We’re excited to have Paul join our staff,” Tuberville said in a release. “He fit everything that we were looking for in a defensive coordinator. Paul brings great experience and enthusiasm, he’s a great recruiter and I really like his philosophy on teaching techniques and fundamentals.”

Auburn has been searching for a coordinator since Will Muschamp left two weeks ago to join the Texas staff. This marked the second time Tuberville had tried to hire Rhoads, 40, away from Pitt. In 2002, Tuberville offered the job to Rhoads, who accepted it at first, then changed his mind when he received a substantial pay raise from Pitt. This time he Tuberville was successful in landing his man.

“I’m happy and very excited to be an Auburn Tiger,” Rhoads said. “My family and I are thrilled about being a part of the Auburn family and the Auburn community. I truly appreciate the opportunity that coach Tuberville and Auburn have given me and can’t wait to get started. I look forward to the challenge of competing in the Southeastern Conference, which is the best conference in the country, and helping Auburn compete for a national title.”

Rhoads is expected in Auburn on Friday to help with a big recruiting weekend. The Tigers will have at least 10 prospects on campus this weekend.

Rhoads has been the architect of a Pitt defense which has typically been ranked in the top 10 nationally. His defense this past season was ranked fifth, one notch ahead of the Auburn defense.

Their best game came in their regular-season ender when the Panthers held powerful West Virginia to just one touchdown in a 13-9 win. The defense held the Mountaineers to just under 200 yards of offense.

Rhoads, a native of Arkeny, Iowa, has spent the last 13 years working for just two schools – Pitt and Iowa State. Rhoads spent seven years coaching secondary and one coaching linebackers at Pitt. He coached linebackers one year and secondary four years at Iowa State.

Rhoads has had five of his defensive backs drafted into the NFL. The latest was Darrelle Revis, a first-round draft pick of the New York Jets last year and Thorpe Award finalist.

Rhoads started his career as a graduate assistant at first Ohio State and then Utah State. He worked three years at Pacific as the defensive backs coach before going to Iowa State for five years.

Rhoads graduated from Missouri Western in 1989 with a degree in economics and was a three-year letterman. He earned his master’s degree at Utah State in 1991.