As a Hawkeye fan, it's not easy to praise the Cyclones. But from the beginning I have loved Paul Rhoads. An Iowa guy leading an Iowa team that has never had a great amount of success, and making them a threat in the Big 12 (not to WIN the Big 12 but to hurt other teams chances to win it).
After some research, I found that Rhoads is more of a badass than we probably make him out to be. He's only off to the best coaching career start through 2 seasons at Iowa State since Clay Stapleton won just over half his games in 1958. And that doesn't tell the whole story. He not only lead them to the Insight Bowl, but he won it for the 3rd bowl win in school history and the second Insight Bowl win. It was the first 7-win season since 2005 and the first two back-to-back 5-win seasons since 2004-2005.
The Cyclones also recorded their first defensive shutout since 2004 and in his first year as head coach, his defense allowed the fewest amount of points per game since at least 1967 (data started going weird on me).
Rhoads has a 6-3 winning record against non-conference opponents; the best record since Donnie Duncan's 5-1 in his first 2 seasons in 1979-1980.
Not to mention a win over a (over)rated Texas team for the first time in school history, a win over Texas Tech for the first time since 2002, and a win over Nebraska AT Lincoln and a near monumental upset in Ames in overtime the following year.
For these reasons, Rhoads is an Iowa State legend in the making. He is truly something worth celebrating in the state of Iowa and someone I will always cheer for as an Iowan, no matter how much I hate the Cyclones when we play for the
Hy-Vee Iowa Corn Growers Cy-Hawk Trophy.
*EDITED due to the fact that this was a poorly written article that got bumped. So here is more of my opinion*
Rhoads, like I said, has moved this program to the next level. 2010 could have literally been one of the worst years Iowa State football has ever seen: 6 nationally ranked opponents (all top-20 at the time, 4 top-10), 2 intense in-state rivals, and the undisputed most difficult schedule in all of college football. Yet, they finished the year with a 5-7 record and was playing for a chance to go to a bowl game EVERY week of the season.
This is incredible, considering they played teams with a combined 89-64 record. That is like playing an 8-win team every week. A team like Iowa State shouldn't have a chance week in and week out against teams like that, yet they managed to stay in the fight for a chance at a bowl and at one point in the season, winning the North Division.
8 of the 12 teams they played went to bowls, and half of them won. They went 2-6 against teams that went to a bowl game and 2-2 against teams who WON their bowl game. Even that is a little skewed because Oklahoma went to a BCS bowl (and won) and Utah played against a very very talented Boise State team to lose their bowl game. It's also hard to gauge because 1 pair of teams that Iowa State played that also played in bowl games played EACHOTHER (Iowa-Mizzou).
Iowa State can only go up from here. In 2011, they play only ONE non-BCS school (UNI, which doesn't really count considering they are ALWAYS a tough matchup in the state of Iowa). Then they play Insight Bowl Champions and in-state hated rival Iowa, BCS Bowler Connecticut on a Friday AT night ON ESPN, Oklahoma State on a Friday AT night ON ESPN, 4 Texas teams, 2 Kansas teams, and a nationally recognized preseason #1 Oklahoma. Good luck Cyclones.
But I think Rhoads can do it. He is confident that this year's team is better than last year's and I personally think they will beat UNI, Connecticut, Texas, Baylor, Texas Tech, Kansas and Kansas State. And I will even admit that Iowa will have it's hands full week 2. I could see a possible 7-win season for the Clones and I am supporting every single one of those players because I wish them well. Good luck Cyclone Nation, except for week 2.