It doesn’t take long on the interwebs to get a nickname and it took I-State’s new head coach Paul Rhoads all of one weekend to get his from CycloneReport.com: CPR (Coach Paul Rhoads). That’s right, we have a new head coach. Almost exactly one week after Gene Chizik (whose nickname to the CycloneReport.com community is now The-Coach Who-Must-Not-Be-Named) stole away to Auburn, AL in the middle of the night, I-State Athletics Director Jamie Pollard named Auburn Defensive Coordinator Paul Rhoads as the new top man in our program.
Auburn’s Defensive Coordinator is taking over the Head Coaching job in Ames? Didn’t I-State’s Head Coach just take over the Head Coaching job in Auburn? Weird.
There are a few similarities between Rhoads and Chizik. The first is the fact that no matter how successful they are on the field, posters on the internet will misspell their last names (Rhodes and Rhoades are already popular as was Chizek for the last two years). A more germane similarity is the fact that each has a background as a Defensive Coordinators before taking over the top job here. That was also true of Dan McCarney. There’s a shared history under recently fired, yet wildly successfully, Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville. Tuberville was looking to hire a DC in 2002 and he first offered the job to Rhoads who’d had a great couple of seasons at Pitt. Pitt countered the offer and Rhoads stayed put. Tuberville then offered the job to Chizik, who took it. Chizik stayed for two years, then bounced to Texas for the same job. He stayed in Austin for two years before our poor decision to hire him to Ames. Rhoads stayed at Pitt through almost that entire time before taking Tuberville up on his second offer to come to Auburn last season.
Another similarity – neither had been a head coach before (that didn’t work out so well for us the first time).
Now for the differences. CPR is a local boy, born in Nevada and raised in Ankeny. He’s a local favorite, one of those guys whose name is always mentioned when the program is not going as planned (which is all too often). He’s coached here before. He’s not a job hopper – having spent 8 years or so at Pitt before making the move to Auburn this last season and 4 years at I-State prior to moving to Pennsylvania.
Another difference – Rhoads wants to be in Ames. Chizik, apparently, had one foot out the door from Day One in Ames. Rhoads knows what he’s getting into in this job and he wants it; he’s called it his dream job.
I, like most fans I’ve talked to, wasn’t thrilled with the Rhoads hire when it was announced this weekend. However, it’s amazing how fast I’ve come around. Sure, I’ve looked into his history and career and have found things I think the biggest part is that statement from above - he wants to be here.
Iowans are a proud people and I-State fans will give you a long leash. You don’t have to be from here, you don’t have to win big, and you don’t have win early. But you do have to be one of us. Chizik had two years but by all reports he never was and his beeline to Auburn proves he didn’t want to be.
Rhoads already is.