I came into Paul Rhoads’ introductory press conference Saturday night knowing I’d hear a lot about returning to his Iowa State roots, coming home to the state he loves and being the right guy for the job.
I didn’t know I’d believe it as much as I do. I’m sold on this hire — hook. line. sinker.
Rhoads doesn’t have head coaching experience or the name brand of some of AD Jamie Pollard’s alleged candidates.
What he does have is motivation. He has passion. He has staying power. And most importantly, having lived and worked in Ames through some dark days in the mid- to late-1990s, he knows what he’s getting himself into.
Let’s be honest, Iowa State is a difficult place to win. Few have done it with regularity.
Rhoads left town before the Cyclones broke through in 2000 with a winning season, but he helped build it, be sure of that. His Pittsburgh team was ISU’s final victim in a 9-3 season that ended with an Insight.com Bowl victory.
He knows how Dan McCarney got it done in going to five bowl games in a six-year span:
Get and develop the top players in the state, attract some playmakers from Texas and Florida and fill in with junior college guys and some from other surrounding Midwest areas.
Rhoads seems to be everything Gene Chizik was not: personable, forthright, full of emotion and — as it turned out — happy to be in Ames.
Family members and friends filled the Jacobson Athletic Building to watch Rhoads’ public introduction as the leader of Cyclone Nation. He showed emotion and sincerity, which ISU fans don’t take for granted anymore.
They should be very pleased with Pollard’s choice. He may not have been the first, but Rhoads may be the best in the long term.