AMES — All I can do is be honest with you guys, so here goes.
Monday was one hell of a day.
Full disclosure: The emotions that accumulated in my mind throughout Jamie Pollard’s press conference, Paul Rhoads’ press conference and a handful of on and off-the-record conversations have likely gotten to me at this point, but I’m feeling a little bit of buyer’s remorse when it comes to the future of Iowa State football.
I imagine that I’m not alone with this emotion either.
It has to be somewhat natural when discussing a family man like Rhoads – a guy who nobody can seem to find a bad thing to say about.
My guess is that many of our older readers remember feeling the same way when the school made the decision to move on from Dan McCarney a little less than a decade ago.
You guys know that passion that Paul Rhoads displayed in Ames over the last seven years? All of that was real.
The iconic Nebraska locker room speech in 2009 started it all.
My favorite Rhoads moment might have been the vigorous defense of his players after that atrocious call cost Iowa State the game vs. Texas in 2013.
I have always defended Rhoads’ animated sideline antics over the years. None of that ever bothered me because it was real.
There is nothing phony about Paul Rhoads.
Even some things that I have criticized Rhoads for over the years – like not promoting the program on Twitter, the lack of alternate uniforms and that awful entrance song "Smoke on the Water" – Rhoads was staying true to himself in making these decisions.
Paul Rhoads was old school.
The authenticity that this man brought to the job every single day is something I always have and will continue to admire.
Rhoads saved his best for last (watch it below in its entirety).
It wasn’t a surprise to me when in front of his family, friends, staff and the media, Ankeny’s finest got choked up during the final Monday press conference of his Iowa State career. Paul Rhoads is an emotional guy.
I had a front row seat and it was beyond difficult to watch.
This is just such an abnormal situation for everybody involved.
If you follow Iowa State football regularly, you know how close this team is to turning the corner. For the record, I agree with Rhoads: Iowa State will go to a bowl game next year.
But Jamie Pollard was absolutely on point when he said that you aren’t judged by potential and talent but by wins and losses.
This is a big business. This is a brutal business. This was a business decision, and Rhoads knows that.
Here is where I am torn.
The media guy in me sees an opportunity for Iowa State to do what Pollard said multiple times during his presser and takes things to the "next level."
The Iowa Stater in me wants Paul Rhoads – a guy with more passion for Cyclone football than anybody I’ve seen since Dan McCarney – to be able to lead this program next season because deep down, I feel like he would have succeeded. I really, really do.
But would the best fans in America have continued to fill up Jack Trice Stadium, which is now the third largest venue in the Big 12?
I don’t know.
Iowa State’s next head coach is going to have as talented of a roster as I’ve seen in Ames but hiring the right guy will come at a cost.
Syracuse fired its coach on Monday. It sounds like Les Miles is about to get canned at LSU. That’s 13 FBS jobs (and counting) that are currently open.
Iowa State has a lot that it can sell (I’m going to write about this on Tuesday) to the pool of candidates but reality is reality. With schools like Houston and Memphis willing to pay their coaches upwards of $3 million a year, Jamie Pollard and Steven Leath better be willing to open up the checkbook. For a growing fan base that has grown tired of moral victories and losing in general, this is a hire that Iowa State can’t afford to miss on.
From here, all that Iowa State fans can do is trust Pollard and if he’s involved (which I assume that he will be), the new president.
The reasons that Pollard gave for making the move are admirable.
“Our fans have done far greater for us than we have given to our fans,” was the quote that really stood out to me.
I have always deeply respected Jamie Pollard and after what happened at the end of the game on Saturday (in addition to the multiple second half letdowns and little things like not centering the football at Toledo), it’s almost impossible to argue his reasoning for making a move.
Maybe the new guy will be a better football coach than Rhoads. For Iowa State’s sake, I hope that he is. I hope the next guy can recruit and do things that Rhoads was never able to achieve.
But finding a guy who loves Iowa State and actually wants to be here more than Rhoads, who passed up multiple opportunities to leave after leading the Cyclones to three bowl games in his first for years, well, that’s going to be next to impossible.
And damn it, that’s what makes this so hard.