On Tuesday, Des Moines, Roosevelt High School made waves across the Iowa State Twitter-sphere when it was announced former Cyclone quarterback Jared Barnett has been pegged to replace former Iowa State recruiting staff Mitch Moore as the school’s head football coach.
Barnett, a native of Garland, Texas, started nine games for Paul Rhoads’ team during the 2011 and 2012 seasons. He’s best remembered for his 31-of-58 for 376 yards passing, three passing touchdowns and 84 rushing yards in the Cyclones’ historic upset win over then-No. 2 Oklahoma State in 2011.
He also started the program’s 2011 win over No. 19 Texas Tech and led the team on the road to defeat TCU in 2012 and snap what was at the time the nation’s longest winning streak.
Barnett left the Iowa State program after the 2012 season and transferred to Illinois State before retiring from the game for good and jumping into the coaching ranks at the high school level.
After stops at Texas high schools plus the NAIA and FCS collegiate levels, Barnett is back in central Iowa, along with his wife, Marni, and two kids, Marshall and Charlie, to lead a program that Moore, who left to take the head coaching position at Iowa City High, significantly elevated during his two seasons at the helm.
The Roughriders went 6-3 and qualified for the state playoffs for the first time in 23 years in 2019 then played only two games in 2020 due to state regulations preventing schools that did not meet for in-person classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic from participating in extracurricular activities.
Cyclone Fanatic caught up with Barnett on Wednesday to discuss his coaching journey, what he brings to the Roosevelt program and some of his favorite memories from his time in Ames for the Q&A below.
(Note: Some of the questions and answers have been slightly edited for the sake of clarity and brevity.)
CF: I guess the first thing is just what have you been up to since your playing career ended?
Barnett: Yeah, absolutely, since I left Iowa State, I finished school in Texas and graduated. Actually, while I was finishing getting my degree, I started working for the guy that was my offensive coordinator in high school. He was at a high school in Longview, Texas called Pine Tree High School. I went there and I was his quarterback coach for the first year, co-offensive coordinator the second year. We kind of developed the same program or the same type of system that I was running when I was in high school. So it was kind of an immediate thing and a very easy transition into the coaching culture.
Since I started playing ball I knew I wanted to coach so I immediately got into coaching, started learning, started visiting other schools and other facilities and other coaches and trying to perfect my craft.
From there, I ended up going to a bigger high school in south Texas called East Central High School in San Antonio. Had a great opportunity to play and coach against some of the best high schools in Texas when I was there. Kind of that same thing, I learned a lot, and after that, I ended up getting an opportunity to go to Kansas.
I went to an NAIA school in Winfield, Kansas, Southwestern College, and it was a fun experience. It was my first, obviously, college coaching job, but we got to do a little bit of everything there. I did academics. I did equipment. I did the work-study program. As a coach, we recruited, we did all the game planning and coaching. I mean, it was a ton of fun, because I did literally everything that we needed to do within the program. I was there for a year and a half as the quarterback coach and co-offensive coordinator. There is when I really hit my stride as a coach. Me and other the guy, who was the offensive line guy, we kind of developed our own RPO type of system where we just we’ve married our two offenses together, and we ended up having two of the best seasons that Southwestern College has had in 20-plus years. We had a blast.
After that, I ended up going to (an FCS school) in Martin, Tennessee, UT-Martin, and coached under head coach Jason Simpson for a year. I was the running back coach there, which was a different level of athletes being at the D1 level, going from the NAIA level, but, it was similar to the type of players that I was playing with at Iowa State. Obviously, a little bit on the lower end with it being (FCS) but it was a great experience being able to coach that caliber of athletes and being able to coach against the type of coaches that we were coaching against and the type of teams we were playing against. Really got to do a lot of recruiting when I was there. I actually was in the state of Iowa quite a bit. I was in control of recruiting the junior colleges. So I was in all the Iowa JUCOs at least two or three times during the recruiting season so that was a ton of fun. Coaching wise, that’s what I’ve been up to.
I ended up getting out of coaching for a year. My wife and I decided we wanted to move to North Carolina, she had just gotten her nursing degree, got a job out there at Duke, which was a fantastic opportunity for her career, kind of an opportunity for us to get into something a little different, kind of separate from everybody and be able to just rely on each other and be able to build out our relationship and personal life. It was a great experience for us.
We ended up having our second child and we were in North Carolina for a year and a half and decided it was time to move back a little bit closer to family and friends. We ended up moving (to West Des Moines), the beginning of the summer and just been back, and I was kind of looking for an opportunity to get back into the coaching world. It turned out that Roosevelt was the right fit for me.
CF: What was it about the Roosevelt job that appealed to you?
Barnett: There are several things I would say. First is the opportunity. Whenever I moved back here, I know Mitch (Moore) really well from his Iowa State days. I was talking to him about coming in and doing some volunteer coaching on the side and things like that. I was always keeping up with him and just seeing the opportunities that they have, the athletes that they have in the building, the talent that’s there from what was being built at Roosevelt with Coach (Erik) Link, and then being passed along to Mitch, there was a lot of opportunities, there was a lot of growth within those times. Now, there’s even more opportunity to build on top of that, which is something I’m extremely excited about.
Also, the community. Everybody that I’ve talked to since the interview process started absolutely loves Roosevelt. During the interview process, one of the questions that I asked the panel was, ‘Why did they choose Roosevelt?’ because a lot of them are the parents that have stayed at Roosevelt or parents that they went to school, they moved, but they had kids and moved back to Roosevelt so their kids could go to Roosevelt. It’s a family-centered community.
Everybody loves Roosevelt. Everybody wants the best for Roosevelt. And there are all kinds of support there. That’s what you need. I’m looking to come in here and build a program and build a championship lifestyle and championship culture within the program. The way that you do that is from the community, from the youth programs, from the feeder schools. You build it from the ground up and it involves everybody within the community.
CF: I think that one of the first things that come to mind when you’re talking about one of the city school jobs, and it’s just an unfortunate reality, is the difficulty that they’ve had against the suburban schools. A city school hasn’t beat a suburban school since 2009. What in your mind does it take to be the school that ends that streak and be that city school that can break through?
Barnett: You get to a city school, you get to a school like Roosevelt, you’re not going to have everything. There’s not going to be a lot of things that are given to you. That mindset that the people that are in that community and the people that are within our program, the mindset that we all have is that we have to come to work every day. We know what we’re trying to do, we’re trying to get to the playoffs, we’re trying to win championships, that’s what our goal is.
We’re going to get there with our mindset that we need to come in, and we have to earn everything that we’re going to get. You can see that from the conversations that I’ve had with everybody. Everybody knows and understands that there’s a lot of work to be put in. That’s what we’re gonna do. We’re gonna come in, we’re going to put the work in, we’re gonna put in systems that are going to fit the players that we have. I can tell you right now, we have a ton of athletes and we’re going to do what we can to make sure that we use all the skills and all the talents that we have within our program to complement each other.
Being able to build upon what Coach Link and what Coach Moore have built, being able to extend that and build upon that, and use the experience that I’ve had from past coaching experiences, helping to break that mold of ‘we’re good when we’re playing the other metro schools, but we struggle against the suburban schools.’ I understand that’s going to happen, but the opportunity is there.
We have the players to go out and compete, we have the players to go out and play. It’s just changing that mindset to where when we go out there we know, we step on the field, and we’re gonna win games, we’re prepared to win those games, that’s mentally, that’s physically, that’s emotionally. We’re not going to let emotional issues drag us down.
We’re not gonna be put in a situation where maybe something’s thrown at us that we’re not prepared for. That’s not gonna happen. We’re going to be mentally, physically and emotionally prepared for everything that’s going to happen on the field. That mixed with our talent is going to help us break that mold and start to win those football games.
CF: How would you describe the style of play you hope to bring to Roosevelt?
Barnett: The first thing is competitive excellence. I want my guys, every day, whether they’re on the field, or in the classroom, or going into the weight room, they’re going into practice, they’re competing every day. It’s against themselves. It’s against their teammates. Mentally, that’s preparing to win a football game. Even when we start in the offseason, they’re coming in every day, to make sure that whenever we get to the season, they’re already imagining they’re lining up against their opponent and they’re winning that battle every play. Having that competitive excellence.
Then relentless effort. I want my guys to come out and I want them to be flying around the ball. Something that I’ve learned from a couple of books and interviews and some speaking that I’ve heard from Urban Meyer is, he said, ‘Four to Six, A to B.’ He wants maximum effort and relentless effort for four to six seconds, which is the average length of a play, from point A to point B. That’s what I want my players to live by while we’re on the field, while we’re in the weight room, while we’re doing any training session. I want them to make sure that they go out and fly around and have fun.
We can teach all the X’s and O’s and all the skills, we can teach that on video and we can teach that in individual drills. But once we get out to the field, they need to be out there flying around and they need to trust the training that they’ve gotten from us as coaches, they need to go out there and be able to trust that and just go out and play football. And they need to go play relentlessly.
CF: I’ve known Mitch for a long time and someone he brought up to me on several occasions was quarterback Jamison Patton. From the little I’ve seen, and what I’ve heard, he’s a guy who has the tools and potential to be a household name in high school football circles within the state. Have you gotten an opportunity to see him play at all? If you have, what are your thoughts on what he brings to the table for the program?
Barnett: One of the first questions that I’ve asked some of the people that have been within the program are about him. Not just on the field presence, but how he is as a leader. Everybody that I’ve spoken to, they’ve said, you know, he’s a young guy. He’s a young guy, but everybody’s still looking to him for that leadership. Everybody looks to him knowing that he has the ability and that he is going to lead them in the right direction.
As a new head coach coming in, that’s, first of all, what I want to hear about everybody in my program, but especially my quarterback. I’ve been able to get on and start watching video of games from last year. I’ve watched games. I’ve watched practice and what I like the most about him is the way he carries himself. He never gets too high, never gets too low.
You’ll be able to turn on the tape or games that you’ve watched or even looking at just stats and know he can light up the scoreboard, he can light up the stat sheet, but whenever you see him from play-to-play, he is on an even keel. You don’t see him out there panicked. If there’s a botched snap, he knows immediately what to do.
You can tell he’s already mentally way past where he should be as a sophomore. That’s going to excel him, especially as he gets into his junior and senior years. He’s going to have a lot of opportunities because he already is so mature. He’s surpassed his age.
CF: The other thing that I think is just interesting about Roosevelt is how many, even before Mitch was there, just how many former Cyclones have been on the staff. I know Todd Blythe and Ernst Bruns were the last couple years. Do you have any plans to get or keep some former Cyclones in the building with you?
Barnett: There’s a couple of guys that are on staff or a couple of guys that I’m either trying to get to stay or get to come back and a couple that haven’t been on staff or been at other places, or whatever the case is, to be able to get them involved.
One reason is familiarity. As a head coach, or really, as any coach, you want to have people around you that you know and understand. Those are relationships with guys that I’ve built in the locker room and built on the field and built on the practice field. Those are long-lasting relationships that even if we haven’t talked football in four or five years, we could sit down and start having a conversation and pick up like nothing’s changed. We’re still on the same page. I’ve had conversations with several of the guys that I played on offense with (like that).
I would say, one person, off the top of my head, that I’ve had conversations with, not to bring him on to help us coach, just somebody that I’ve always been in contact with, is Jerome Tiller. A lot of times, we can have conversations, he was at my wedding last year, and we were talking and we communicated with the hand signals that we used whenever we were playing quarterback at Iowa State. We still remember those. We still had that connection to be able to do that. I haven’t done that with him in seven or eight years until that time at my wedding. Those are relationships that have already been built.
I know, off the top of my head, those guys know football, because I’ve been with them, I’ve seen it, we’ve been coached very similarly, but know and understand how they’ve been coached, what they know about football and different things like that.
Now, am I going to just be seeking out Iowa State coaches to bring in and help coach? No, but I am absolutely open to talking to those guys and open to having them come in and help or have them come in and coach. If they’re guys like Todd Blythe or Ernst Bruns that are already on staff, those guys, I’d definitely like to keep them around.
CF: As you look back now, what are some of your favorite memories of your time at Iowa State?
Barnett: Well, the first is the time I spent with the coaches. I knew probably my senior year of high school that I wanted to coach because my dad was a coach, my brother was going to be a coach, one of my uncles has been a head coach and athletic director in Texas for a long time. I’ve grown up under some fantastic coaches. I knew I wanted to be a coach.
When I was recruited to Iowa State, Paul Rhoads being the head coach, Tom Herman being the offensive coordinator, Luke Wells recruited me, Chris Ash was there the prior year, knowing some of these names that had been there and some of those coaches that I’ve been around for a long time and being in their system and growing up as a player and as a future coach underneath those types of guys, those are memories that I will always remember and just kind of excelled my interest into being a coach.
I would say being around the coaches, but then obviously having the big win over Oklahoma State, the Texas Tech win, TCU when they were ranked going in there putting up big points and big numbers against them. Having those types of victories. Those were fun times. The bowl games and different memories that you share with your teammates, different things like that, those are things that I loved about being a player.
Now as a head coach, I want to be able to help players that want to get to that level. I want to help them as much as I can to be able to achieve that so that they can have those experiences that I had and even better.
CF: Have you still followed Iowa State at all? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on what Matt Campbell and his staff have done with the Cyclones over the last several years.
Barnett: I have. I’ve followed Iowa State since I left. I didn’t leave Iowa State on bad terms at all. So even after I left, I had a relationship with Coach Rhoads, other coaches and the players that were still there. There’s a couple of coaches that are on staff now that I’ve had communication with. So, I’ve always followed Iowa State in the fall and will continue to.
I love where the program is going. We started to build something when Coach Rhoads was there. We went to a couple of bowl games. They went to one in 2009. We went two years in a row whenever I was there, and then kind of dipped down a little bit.
Now, Coach Campbell has really picked it up and really excelled the program now. I mean, Iowa State is truly on the map. It’s truly a place where players want to go. I think that championships are now a true possibility at a place like Iowa State, which, the campus is beautiful, the facilities are fantastic, the fan base is second to none. So you get those kinds of places, you really start to put the pieces together and start winning.
There are fantastic things and amazing things that are going to start happening at Iowa State, like the big bowl win this year, the huge rankings, things are really starting to trend in a positive direction.
I think Coach Campbell, especially with the guys that have said that they’re returning next year, I think he’s got another great opportunity to continue that. I’m really excited to continue to watch it.