Iowa State Players Liking Paul Rhoads; Gene Chizek Not So Much

As if Gene Chizek wasn’t already on shaky ground with Auburn Tigers’ fans, then along comes ISU Qb Austen Arnaud and DL Nate Frere at Big 12 Media Days.

(Paul Rhoads)

It sounds as if the Iowa State football team had a chance for a few last words with former coach Gene Chizek that it would have been something along the lines of ‘don’t let the door hit you in the ass.’

Said Arnaud:

  • “You hear about guys walking around like they were on egg shells (last year), but right now, coach Rhoads will be in the locker room, hanging out, sitting on the couch, just chillin’. That’s the cool thing about him. He’s down for us, and we’re down for him.”

Said Frere:

  • “I’ve played for three different coaches since I’ve been at Iowa State. Coach Rhoads is a people person, just like coach McCarney was. You can tell he cares – he puts the effort forward to get to know you and your family.”
  • “We kind of got burned on the last deal,” Frere said of Chizik’s surprising December departure. “When (Chizik) says that he’s staying for sure, and then you find out through the media that he took a trip to see another school about another job, and then having to hear about it through the media that he accepted it … and then he calls a team meeting after the fact …
  • “There was a lot of emotion in that room. There was a lot of anger.”

And when asked how Rhoads compares to Chizik, Frere said:

  • “No comment. Between workouts, coach Rhoads will come into the locker room and hang out with us, watch TV and sometimes talk about things other than football. This is the first time I can remember a coach doing that since coach McCarney left.”

And if there’s one thing that I like about Paul Rhoads’ attitude about taking on a team with 10 consecutive conference losses (17 on the road), it’s that he knows exactly what he’s gotten himself into:

  • “We’ve attacked those numbers from Day One. We don’t brush them under the carpet. We talk about them openly.”
  • “It’s a new era of Iowa State football. I think the challenges are you inherit a program that has no tradition, so to speak, in collegiate football and in the Big 12 since its inception back in ’96, I believe. We have one Big 12 North shared title, something that we’re very proud of, and need to build upon. But the lack of recent success is the first hurdle that you must overcome.”

If there’s a bright side for Iowa State and Paul Rhoads this season, then I guess you could point out the 15 returning starters, which includes Arnaud.

If I was an Iowa State fan, there are four games I’d have circled on my schedule: Kansas State in K.C., vs. Colorado, vs. Baylor, and @ Texas A&M. If there’s a conference win for this team in 2009, then it’s coming from there.

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