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Monday, July 27, 2009
Rhoads faces uphill climb at ISU

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

IRVING, Texas -- Iowa State was a struggling program when Paul Rhoads joined Dan McCarney's program in 1995.

The Cyclones of that era bear little resemblance to the team that Rhoads inherited after taking over as ISU's head coach last December.

"When we say the program was down in 1995, it was down," Rhoads said. "We went through spring practice then and counted 13 players who we thought were Division I, Big Eight players at the time."

While Rhoads hesitates to say how many players he now categorizes on his roster that are Division I players, he says there are far more than 13.

That group will be facing a huge challenge as it tries to snap a 10-game losing streak that is tied for second longest in the nation with SMU.  It trails only Washington's current 14-game losing streak.

And the Cyclones will enter the season with a 17-game road losing streak that is the longest in the nation.

"You'd think you'd walk into a group of young men who would have their heads down and couldn't escape that challenge to begin with," Rhoads said. "I have not felt that from day one. And we've attacked those numbers from day one.

"We don't hide from them. We don't try to brush them under the carpet. We talk about them openly and the challenges that it takes to overcome that."  

Rhoads hesitates to say how long it will take to turn the Cyclones program, which hasn't made a bowl appearance since making five during a six-season span under McCarney from 2000-2005.

"It's a good question," Rhoads said. "When I hired my staff, I didn't put myself under any timetable. I wanted to hire every guy when the time was right. And we'll approach the wins and losses in the same way.

"We have a plan in how we'll recruit. We've got a plan in how we'll prepare and how we'll treat our kids year-round. As that plan is executed the wins and losses will come. But I don't know what the timetable is or how long it will take."