It was a tumultuous offseason for the Iowa State football program, that’s for sure.
It all began the day after the Cyclones ended a 3-9 regular season with a triple-overtime victory at West Virginia. That’s when Paul Rhoads relieved longtime assistants (and friends) Courtney Messingham (offensive coordinator) and Kenith Pope (running backs coach) of their duties.
Then, other assistants left for one reason or another. Bill Bleil went on to become the offensive coordinator at Rhode Island. Troy Douglas took a similar position at Pittsburgh. Chris Klenakis did the same with Louisville.
Just as Rhoads looked to finally have his staff complete, defensive ends coach Curtis Bray tragically passed away in January. From Rhoads, to his staff, to graduate assistants and managers alike, the winter was an absolute whirlwind for this football program.
Of course, there are the players to think about too.
“There is something that we have in our program called blind trust,” Rhoads said. “I am asking that of our guys right now with seven new position coaches. Just keep trusting what you are being coached to do and do it with total commitment and exceptional effort every day.”
That is especially the case for Iowa State’s defensive ends, a group that has been coached by Bray for the last four years. Enter Bray’s replacement, a crafty veteran by the name of Stan Eggen into the equation. His assignment, to win over and effectively coach Bray’s group this spring, is far from easy.
“To spend all of that time with Curtis and to be coached and tutored by Curtis and mentored, Rhoads said. “Stan has a different personality than Curtis. For that to be successful, he had to love those kids up as he coached them hard and as he taught them hard. He is doing exactly that.”
It is as tough of a situation as an assistant coach can be thrown into but Eggen, a crafty veteran of 30 years, seems to be taking the challenge in stride.
“Coach Bray did a wonderful job,” Eggen said. “I was coming in, not to change anything, but to continue to build on what has been built.”