Cyclones give Paul Rhoads $20M deal

AMES, Iowa -- Johnny Majors left Iowa State for Pittsburgh in the early 1970s and later won a national title. Earle Bruce dumped the Cyclones for Ohio State in the late 70s, and Gene Chizik needed just five wins in two seasons to land the Auburn job.

The prevailing notion has long been that Iowa State is a place where a coach can't win consistently.

Paul Rhoads believes otherwise -- and he's got a new deal that proves it.

Iowa State announced a 10-year, $20 million contract with Rhoads on Friday, hoping to keep the promising young coach with the Cyclones for years to come.

Rhoads is completing the third year of a five-year deal that ran through 2013 and paid him $1.15 million this year. The school said the total value of the new contract was $20 million, with specific terms to be released later.

"This bright future that we have is on a strong course to continue to grow and continue to develop," Rhoads told reporters Friday night. "Stability is the main word that you've got a chance to emphasize. When you're successful in a program that has either traditionally been a stepping stone or a place where coaches have failed -- when you get that kind of statement of 10 years, it's easier to walk into a living room and it's easier to walk into a meeting room. And both are vitally important."

Iowa State pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the season by beating then-No. 2 Oklahoma State. Iowa State (6-6) is playing in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium against Rutgers (8-4) on Dec. 30, the school's second postseason trip in three years.

The 44-year-old Rhoads is wildly popular in Iowa and fans broke a nearly three-decade old attendance mark this fall.

"Today is a great day for Iowa State University," athletic director Jamie Pollard said. "Paul Rhoads and Iowa State are a perfect match for one another and we could not be happier that he is going to be our football coach for the long term."

Rhoads was hired in December 2008 as Iowa State tried to pick up the pieces after a 2-10 season and Chizik's abrupt departure for the Tigers -- where he, like Majors, won a national title.

Rhoads' teams have shown steady improvement and pulled off some huge wins behind his spread offense and stingy defense.

The victory over Oklahoma State was the program's first over a top-5 team in 59 tries. Earlier in Rhoads' tenure, Iowa State knocked off Nebraska 9-7 and last year won at Texas 28-21 -- the first road wins over ranked opponents in consecutive seasons by Iowa State since 1976-77. The Cyclones also beat Minnesota 14-13 in the 2009 Insight Bowl.

Rhoads grew up in Iowa and was a defensive assistant with the Cyclones in the mid- and late 90s. He later was defensive coordinator at Pitt (2000-07) and Auburn (2008), putting together aggressive units that ranked among the nation's best.

Now he is rolling in Ames. He helped the Cyclones overcome a number of distractions this season, including a quarterback controversy as junior college transfer Steele Jantz fizzled and was replaced by freshman Jared Barnett.

Rhoads' next project will be to develop the program from one that's currently decent in the Big 12 into one that consistently competes for league titles.

Rhoads said he next wants the Cyclones to get over .500, both overall and in the Big 12, while continuing to improve the overall talent level through recruiting and development.

It's a challenge that's vexed nearly all of Rhoads' predecessors. But Rhoads is familiar with the unique challenge at Iowa State -- which has historically been seen as a less prestigious destination than rival Iowa -- because, ironically, Pitt and Auburn have similar situations with Penn State and Alabama.

Instead of running away from it, Rhoads sounds intent on embracing it for the next decade.

"I've often been at jobs where the other job in the state is the quote-unquote better job. You've got to try harder at this one, you've got to do more with less, et cetera," Rhoads said. "I guess I sort of like that challenge and would like to keep following up with that challenge right here."

Rhoads has already lost one of his coaches, as offensive coordinator Tom Herman will leave for Ohio State after the Pinstripe Bowl. Rhoads said Friday that he isn't planning on hiring a new coordinator until after the bowl game.