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Iowa State Must Fire Paul Rhoads

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The embarrassing losses have piled up, and Iowa State University can no longer afford to keep Paul Rhoads around.

Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Well, that ought to do it.

The fact that Iowa State fumbled away an opportunity to notch a road win on Saturday, highlighted by a seemingly glaring coaching mismanagement in the closing minutes is inconsequential. Paul Rhoads deserved to be fired regardless and Saturday's loss is not the reason he should be let go, but is yet another example of why he simply can't lead the Cyclone program going forward.

Coaching blunders aside, Rhoads has been afforded every opportunity to succeed in Ames. He has been gifted unparalleled, unprecedented and undeserved patience. He has presided over a program that has seen close to $100 million pumped into facilities during his tenure. He has been blessed with a fan base that continues to jam into Jack Trice Stadium week after week, despite miserable results on the field.

Enough.

Iowa State travels to Morgantown on Saturday to close out yet another dismal season and it should be Rhoads' last game as the head man for the Cyclones. It has to be. There is no justifiable reason for Rhoads to be given anymore chances. If you are still advocating for Rhoads to be retained, you're either a fool or you're related to him.

The Cyclone program has become so predictably pathetic under Rhoads' watch that it would seem to be a pointless endeavor to even lay out all the reasons why he should be axed, but in case you need to revisit some of the lowlights, here's the piece that I wrote after the Toledo loss.

To update some of those records, Iowa State is now 8-27 since the start of the 2013 season, 10-33 since the 4-1 start of the 2012 season and 14-37 since beating #2 Oklahoma State in 2011. The Cyclones are also 8-18 at home since that stunning upset of the Cowboys.

This season alone, Iowa State has only added to the futility in spectacularly awful fashion:

  • For starters, the Cyclones blew a 17-10 half time lead against Iowa by failing to score in the second half and were thoroughly dominated after the break.
  • Then there was the disaster at Toledo. Despite an underwhelming performance, Iowa State needed only a chip shot 30-yard field goal to come away with what would have been a 23-20 win on the road. Of course, Cole Netten's attempt sailed wide left and Iowa State lost in double overtime. Netten was forced to kick from the left hash mark (still should have made the field goal), but in the post-game press conference, Rhoads remarked that true freshman, Joshua Thomas, was instructed to keep the ball in the center of the field to aid Netten's attempt, except that didn't happen. Thomas ran to the left side immediately after taking the hand off and the rest is history.
  • Against Texas Tech, Iowa State was thoroughly embarrassed as the Red Raiders put up an astonishing 776 yards of offense in a 66-31 laugher that wasn't even as close as the lopsided score suggests.
  • The following week, Riverboat Rhoads returned...kind of...as Iowa State put up 262 yards of offense and scored 21 points in the first quarter to hold a 21-14 advantage against TCU. Unfortunately, the Cyclones failed to score again after the opening stanza, giving up 31 unanswered points as the Horned Frogs cruised through the second half (you should be starting to sense a theme here).
  • On a rainy Saturday in Waco, Iowa State inexplicably took to the air in the opening half against Baylor. The strategy backfired in a big way as the Bears built a 35-7 lead while we saw the last of a mentally broken Sam B. Richardson. The senior QB was pulled after a 3-11 performance with 2 interceptions. Iowa State managed to make a game of it in the second half behind the legs and arm of Joel Lanning, but that 28-point deficit still proved too much to overcome.
  • Against Oklahoma, Iowa State sort of kept it close, trailing 21-9 at the half, but the Sooners crushed any potential upset bid the Cyclones hoped to stage after the break, winning by a final score of 52-16.
  • A week ago, the Cyclones raced out to a 24-7 lead against a top ten Oklahoma State team and held a 24-14 advantage at the half. Iowa State managed to add a touchdown near the end of the third quarter to take a 31-21 lead into the 4th quarter, but the Pokes scored 14 points in the final quarter to leave Ames with their perfect record in tact.
  • Then of course there was Saturday. Leading 35-14 going into the half, Iowa State fumbled on 3 of its last 4 possessions, allowing Kansas State to score 10 points in the final minute of the game to secure the 38-35 victory. As if it wasn't already bad enough that the Cyclones once again failed to score in the second half, with just over 1:30 left in the game and Kansas State having only one time out, Rhoads elected to have Iowa State run the ball and of course, Mike Warren fumbled. By now, you've probably seen the timing math laid out, showing that had the Cyclones elected to kneel the ball, they could have run out the clock or come very close to it.

If you're keeping track, in 5 of Iowa State's 8 losses, they managed to score a combined 14 points in the second half and in 3 of those losses, they didn't score at all after the break.

So yes, a coaching change is long overdue.

Ames may not be a destination city and the Cyclone job may not be a dream posting, but we can certainly do better than this. Even with all the Power 5 jobs open, Jamie Pollard can surely find a willing and more than capable coach that at least isn't as inept and overmatched as Rhoads.

Not counting Iowa State, there are 127 other FBS schools and 125 FCS football programs. That's a pool of 252 head coaches and 504 offensive and defensive coordinators that Iowa State theoretically has to choose from. Now, of course the Cyclones likely won't be able to steal a coach from another Power 5 program and many of the non Power 5 coaches like Tom Herman and Justin Fuente might carry a little too steep of a price tag, but we're still talking about dozens upon dozens of candidates that Jamie Pollard can still look at.

The point is that this program has options and doesn't have to be saddled with Rhoads' losing ways.

For the eternal pessimists (and I know that you're out there), yes, Iowa State can attract someone better. The right coach and right personality can win in Ames. There are coaches out there that can identify and develop talent while building a winning Cyclone program. Paul Rhoads is not one of them.

Seven years is long enough and Iowa State can do better. It's time for the athletic administration to take action and end this perpetual embarrassment once and for all.