I, much like Coach Rhoads, saw improvements from the Cyclone football team each week until the Oklahoma game — an Oklahoma game where they looked completely outmatched on defense, and completely flat on offense.
Unfortunately, that flat play and disappointment carried over to Lawrence, Kansas, and the Jayhawks were able to pick up just their second Big 12 win since 2010. It wasn’t just that ISU lost to a bottom feeder in the conference, but that they got an embarrassed by one.
Coach Rhoads put it best in the post-game conference, “That was about the worst first half of football we’ve played in my six years here at Iowa State, in the first 30 minutes of the game. ” A first 30 minutes where the Jayhawks seemed to effortlessly jump to a 24-7 lead in the first half, holding the Cyclones to just 85 yards of total offense (62 of which came off their only scoring drive before halftime), while also tacking 343 yards.
After seeing gradual growths out of the Cyclone football team, we’ve seen two weeks of extreme decline. It feels like the Clones have hit rock bottom. Any slim of chance of bowl are gone, and there’s only pride to play for. It’s hard to not hang your head and chalk up the season as a dud.
Coach Paul Rhoads will head into a practice-filled bye week, and look to capitalize on probably the team’s best remaining chance at conference win at home against Texas Tech.
In the meantime– social media has been the outlet for frustrated fans. Some are suggesting that Coach Rhoads be fired after his second straight season without a bowl game, or a notable upset. Some believe the poor play comes from the lack of quality recruits. Some even say that a change of conference could send the program in the right direction.
Fans are certainly frustrated about another unsuccessful season, and it’ll be interesting to see if Athletic Director, Jamie Pollard, makes any changes in response.
Do I think Pollard would go through with this?
No. At least not yet … if at all. Rhoads’ recent lengthy and pricey contract extension will keep him around for at least a couple more years. I’m sure I’m in the minority of fans that still see potential in our coach, but I think firing Rhoads is the wrong decision for a few reasons:
- Iowa State is a difficult job. In my last article I put up the same argument. It’s a difficult place to recruit players, you’re stuck at the bottom of one of the best conferences, and you’ve never been a place associated with winning tradition to begin with.
- There hasn’t been a coach that much more successful before Rhoads. Gene Chizik’s (2007-2008) short time and dismal record speaks for itself, Dan McCarney (1995-2006) gave Iowa State some of its best seasons and players, but he even had his share of losing seasons. It’s tough to say replacing the head coach will bring a lot of success to the program.
- Rhoads is a few bad calls and a few close losses away from making fans that much happier, and being that much more successful. Fans would certainly be less sour if any of the seven losses decided by one-possession in the past two years went in the Clones favor.
This isn’t to say I’m not disappointed, or want to see our program do a complete 180 (see: Baylor/Duke). But, at a place like ISU, to give up on a coach who has shown promise and is passionate about his job after a few losing seasons is premature. While there are certainly disagreements on what needs to be done to fix the mess that is Iowa State football, there is one thing State fans can agree on– Ames is ready for basketball season.