Paul Rhoads kicked off commenting on how great it was to spend time with his players during the summer thanks to NCAA rule changes, and also took a moment to talk about the new additions to his coaching staff including Mark Mangino. It was, to this point, the longest opening statement by any of the coaches.
The first question was about how Mark Mangino ended up in Ames. "It took me a week one day to get to Pittsburgh," Rhoads cracked as he talked about heading to Pennsylvania to talk to Mangino. "At the very top of the list was the simplicity with which is offenses have had success," Rhoads said, explaining what the main selling point was.
Next up was a question about Iowa State's quarterback competition. "We have two starting quarterbacks in our offensive system," Rhoads noted as he explained they hadn't come close to a decision.
Rhoads was then asked about the Texas loss last year, trading quips with Berry Tramel about what he could actually say about that without getting in trouble. He acknowledged that the game probably derailed the season.
Texas came up again, and Rhoads was asked if he'd lost faith in the replay system as a result of that game. "It accurately displayed what the replay system is and is not going to be able to overturn." Obviously still disappointed in the call, Rhoads was diplomatic.
Asked about the new offense under Mangino, Rhoads said it will be a spread, no-huddle, but simple. "We're not smart enough in Ames," he joked, reinforcing the simplicity angle.
Rhoads was then asked about how recruiting is affected when a team is faced with spread offenses week in and week out. He characterized it as a selling point for defensive recruiting, because players want the challenge. "You get to build your resume against the best in the country," he said. He noted that it means recruiting deeper in the secondary than a team otherwise might, and actually recruiting guys to play nickel.
He was then asked whether the returning offensive talent was a selling point to convince Mangino to come to Ames. Rhoads agreed that Mangino didn't want to step into a situation where "the cupboard was bare," but then pointed out that it probably had more to do with Mangino's desire to get back in the game.
Asked why, or if, it's been difficult to recruit interior defensive linemen to Iowa State, Rhoads said it's more a case of it being hard for everyone to find them, and the top programs gobble them up. "You've got to project and you've got to get lucky," he said, referring to former walk-on Jordan Carstens.
Rhoads was asked about player safety; he's all for it, and thinks the Big 12 as a whole is above the curve in regard to best practices in that area.
Asked what the coverage of his own emotional reactions to big moments within the Iowa State program has meant for the program, he thinks it's been a benefit. "We're not afraid to wear our emotions on our shirtsleeve, and that kind of honesty is appreciated by our kids," he said.
Rhoads was asked about the numbers game, and what gets cut in order to make room for extra defensive backs (as a followup to the previous comment), and said it probably results in a shortage at defensive tackle.
And then the Collegian's Tate Steinlage asked Rhoads about North Dakota State. Rhoads noted that Iowa State lost to an FCS team last year too (Northern Iowa). "We're very aware how dangerous they are."