Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads is back as the leading topic of discussion following the Oklahoma rout on Saturday. Looking at social media, you’d think the Cyclone fanbase has gone on a full-blown revolt against a guy they loved. For those that want the head coach out, that’s not exactly what the entire fanbase believes.
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At this point, there’s been enough disappointment over the last few years in Iowa State football that there’s no convincing anyone who stands with or against Rhoads. The support is declining, but it’s still there. Most fans understand that Rhoads retooled his staff and the offense is a continuing work in progress. The defense started solid, but has steadily declined as the season is progressing, and gets worse when the offense doesn’t click.
I’ve been against posting a full article about Rhoads’ job security because I believed the minority was voicing their opinion on social media. I was right. In a poll conducted on the Cyclone Fanatic forums after the 59-14 loss. As of Sunday afternoon, more than 50 percent of fans that voted elected 2015 as the make-or-break option for Rhoads and that he should be on the seat. Nearly 23 percent of fans said that he shouldn’t even be on the hot seat.
Nov 1, 2014; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones quarterback Sam Richardson (12) throws against the Oklahoma Sooners at Jack Trice Stadium. Oklahoma defeated Iowa State 59-14. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
That means that roughly one-fourth of the fanbase are picking the option that Rhoads should either be fired now or at the end of the year barring a huge turnaround. Honestly, that sounds about right. Out of the fans I talk to personally, about one out of every four still support the head coach because they understand the situation.
A lot of media pundits, fans of other teams, etc., who don’t follow Iowa State don’t understand why so many fans support Rhoads. It’s because they don’t do their homework and completely forgot the hire of offensive coordinator Mark Mangino and others on the coaching staff.
Anybody that wants Rhoads fired means that they want him gone after eight games with his new staff. That’s simply not enough time, but I understand how over-reactionary some fans get when things look incredibly bleak, and they certainly did on Saturday.
The worst pulse to take of the fanbase is talking amongst fans in the tailgate lots who have been drinking since 6:00 AM and witnessed the extremely bad beatdown either on TV or in the stadium. Of course, everyone will be upset or angry.
Ultimately, poor play does go up to the head coach. He’s ultimately responsible for the performance of the team just like lead editors are at newspapers and CEOs are of major corporations. As the season continues to wear the seal of disappointment, Rhoads’ job security continues to slide.
Oct 11, 2014; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones head coach Paul Rhoads watches the action against the Toledo Rockets at Jack Trice Stadium. Iowa State defeated Toledo 37-30. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
But that doesn’t mean fans banging the drum of the firing of Rhoads have been right. Those fans have been calling for his execution after last season. They called for it after losing to North Dakota State this year. They’re calling for it now. When things get really bad, they get frustrated, and because they can’t explain what’s happening the field, they just want the school to fire Rhoads because, to them, that’s clearly the best and only option.
Because being an Iowa State head football coach is a luxury that many wannabe and experienced head coaches would dream to have. Because Kansas was so right in firing Turner Gill after just two seasons for Charlie Weis, who didn’t even make it to the halfway point this season. They’re a real up-and-coming team after getting blasted 60-14 by Baylor and sit with the same record the Cyclones have.
Again, I can’t tell anyone where to stand at this point because another season is on the brink of failure. I’m just explaining what the situation is and what fans are actually thinking. Most fans know what’s going on and it would be a shock to see Jamie Pollard come down with an axe in the near future.
If there’s anything that costs Rhoads his job, it’s because he couldn’t field a team that could compete with a loaded and tough Big 12 conference.
The team hasn’t quit nor has it become the Dan McCarney era. The coaching staff on the sideline reacts just like all of us when mistakes happen. The players are frustrated with how things are going. They haven’t given up. It’s not the same scenario where players are just waltzing on and off the field and we all feel bad for John Walters when he’s calling these games.
If there’s anything that costs Rhoads his job, it’s because he couldn’t field a team that could compete with a loaded and tough Big 12 conference. They need better players. With a sample size of eight games under new leadership, it’s hard to say that things will never turn around. And that’s why most fans, and not the vocal minority on social media, are still are behind the coach.