Ames, Iowa (PressExposure) April 06, 2009 -- What a horrible year for the Iowa State Cyclones and their fans. Living in the Big 12 Conference can't be easy, and when you finish at the bottom of the NCAA barrel, it must be even worse. The Cyclones finished the heart breaking season at 2-10 overall and 0-8 in conference games, landing at 112th in the NCAA and dead last in the Big 12. Iowa State began the season 2-0 but then fell on a 10 game losing streak including a 12-point loss to instate rival Iowa. To make matters worse, their coach, just days after promising to stay in Ames, IA, announced he was leaving to take a job at Auburn.
After Gene Chizik left the Cyclones for greener pastures in Auburn, Paul Rhoads left Auburn to coach Iowa State, almost like a planned trade. Rhoads definitely had his work cut out for him as he arrived only to find that Chizik had already used 32 of the allotted 56 official visits the NCAA allows during a recruiting period. Not to mention the degree of difficulty telling young men the potential the Cyclones have after such a dismal season. Nonetheless, Iowa State's new coach sees promise in his first recruiting class of 23. Two of his better players are already enrolled at Iowa State - Safety David Sims of Gainesville, Fl who signed with Oklahoma last year, but was unable to enroll because of problems with his transcript, and offensive lineman Zack Spears from Arp, Texas. Spears didn't play much high school football but was highly sought after for his 6-foot-7 and 320-pound frame. The real issue here is what Rhoads can do for ISU football. If quality skilled players are playing in small cities like Boise, Id, and Lawrence, Ks, then why not in Ames, IA? None of the Iowa players were on the rosters of the top 10 teams in the country.
One of Coach Rhoads' first actions was to hire Tom Herman as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach and should be a great help to the struggling Cyclones. Herman spent 2 years as Rice's offensive coordinator, where he used a spread offense and Rice ranked 10th in yards per game. Herman also previously coached at Division I-AA Texas State and Sam Houston State, and had a two-year stint as a graduate assistant at Texas. These sound like good credentials - but all quarterback coaches and offensive coordinators come with good credentials. Only time will tell what the Cyclones and their staff can do.
One good thing for the new players is that due to the lack of depth and talent, many of them will be able to get early looks, and with Rhoads inheriting a 10 game losing streak, not much can be expected out of him which will allow him a chance to experiment with his line up and decide what kind of system he wants to set up. How the Cyclones will fair this season remains to be seen, but one thing is certain, they can't do much worse.