This article series (alternatively titled: Everyone Else was Better at Football: ISU Assistants that Headed to Greener Pastures) will go from Coach Majors first year, 1968, to Rhoads’ last bowl season of 2012.
Before I get started, I want to draw attention to three former Cyclone football related individuals from before the Majors era.
Rod Rust is a three year letter winner at Iowa State, 1947-1949, and a long time and successful assistant coach in the NFL. He was named head coach of the Patriots in 1990, and to date, the 1990 season is the least good in franchise history.
John Cooper was the team captain here in 1961, was most notably head coach at Ohio State (1988-00) after the late, great, Earle Bruce was fired.
Jim Myers was our head coach in 1957, and this Cyclones 101 video explains his successes in the state of Texas.
For most assistant coaches, I will share the seasons they spent at Iowa State, notable coaching locations, and interesting tidbits (if any) about them.
Jackie Sherrill - 1968-1972. After Iowa State, he followed Coach Majors to Pitt, leaving after the 1975 season to start his head coaching career at Washington State. Following a 3-8 season, he became the Pittsburgh coach while Dan Marino was there. In his last season at Pitt, 1981, he won the Walter Camp Coach of the Year Award. He also had stops at Texas A&M(1982-1988) and Mississippi State(1991-2003). He finished with a 180-120-4 record.
Larry Lacewell - 1968. He was a defensive assistant in his lone season in Ames. He would move on to Oklahoma where he would be an associate head coach for the 1974 AP and 1975 consensus national title winning Sooners. In 1978, he would head to Jonesboro to become a volunteer coach and then the head coach of Arkansas State. He is the winningest coach in school history with a record of 69-58-4. From 1992-2004 he would go pro, as a director of college and pro scouting for the Cowboys.
Jimmy Johnson - 1968-1969. Assistant Coach. The Port Arthur, Texas, native is one of the most well known assistant coaches that appeared at Iowa State before making it big. His first coaching stop was in Stillwater (1979-1983) where he went 29-25-3. He would spend the next five seasons at Miami (FL) where he went 52-9. He would then be a head coach of both the Cowboys and the Dolphins, having a career record of 80-64.
King Block - 1968-1972. This was Block’s last coaching stop, where he was an assistant. After coaching, he created “King Blocks Korral”, one of the largest Western themed stores in Iowa.
Ollie Keller - 1968. Assistant. The Memphis grad went back to Tennessee to be an assisstant after his time at Iowa State. From 1972-1975, he was the head coach at the Northeast-Louisiana (Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks) Indians, where he attained a 14-24-3 record. In 1976, he would be named offensive coordinator at Colorado State.
George Haffner - 1969-1972. Haffner was the starting quarterback for Notre Dame in 1960, transferred to McNeese State because he lost the starting job. Drafted by Baltimore Colts in 1965 (Mr. Irrelevant), professional career ended with the Norfolk Neptunes of the Continental Football League. Coached Herschel Walker at Georgia. Spent 31 years as an offensive coordinator. Retired in 2006 as the OC for Mary Hardin-Baylor.
Jim Dyar - 1969-1972. Defensive Lineman. In 1967-68, he was a key part of the Falcons practice squad. He followed Coach Majors to Pitt and then to Tennessee where he retired after the 1979 season. He became an insurance salesman through State Farm. Fun fact, Coach Majors assigned Dyar to recruit Cyclone legend Jerry Moses. He passed away due to cancer complications in 2005.
Ray Greene - 1969. Assistant. Greene took a five year hiatus after coaching ISU to become the offensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Sharks/Express of the World Football League. After the WFL folded, he spent 1976-77 as an assistant coach for the Spartans, before starting his own head coaching career in Division II ball. He went 3-8 in his only season at NC Central, before finding success at Alabama A&M. He led the Bulldogs to four conference titles, and a 54-27-4 record from 1979-83, and 1986-88.
Joe Avezzano - 1969-1972. Assistant. After following Coach Majors around until 1979, Avezzano eventually got his own head coaching experience at Pac-10 cellar dweller Oregon State, where he would be paid $40,000 a year. His overall record there was 6-47-2. From 1990-2002, Joe would be the special teams coach for the Cowboys. In 1991, 1993, 1998, he won Special Teams Coach of the Year. He passed away while exercising in 2012.