Big 12: Jarett Dillard

Herman to be tested in ISU turnaround

March, 24, 2009
3/24/09
11:23
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

I've always wondered about those people who like to trump the fact they are Mensa members.

 
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  Austen Arnaud is a cornerstone that Tom Herman can build the offense around.

New Iowa State offensive coordinator Tom Herman seemed a little sheepish about his membership in the group when he was interviewed recently by Des Moines Register beat writer Randy Peterson.

"That and a quarter will get you ... no, you better make that a dollar because of the economy ... that and a dollar will get you a cup of coffee," Herman said. "Mensa -- I guess that means mom and dad raised me right."

Peterson found out that a conversation with a key family member steered Herman to the Mensa test.

"My mom thought it would look good on my résumé," he said. "But that's obviously before I decided to go into football coaching."

Herman joked to Peterson that he zips through the USA Today crossword puzzle every morning and regularly beats the contestants on "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?"

But an even bigger test of his intellect begins Tuesday in Ames when he tries to turn around the moribund Iowa State offense as the Cyclones begin spring practice.

The team ranked 67th in rushing, 31st in passing and 59th in scoring offense. All of those figures were improvements on the previous season, but Iowa State still has a long way to go to catch up with the rest of the Big 12's powerful offenses.

Herman's hiring by new Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads represents a start. His offense at Rice, keyed by quarterback Chase Clement, wide receiver Jarett Dillard and tight end James Casey, ranked fifth in passing, 10th in total offense and eighth in scoring offense. It helped lead the Owls to their first bowl victory in 54 seasons with a triumph over Western Michigan in the Texas Bowl.

He arrives with a nice collection of returning talent, keyed by quarterback Austen Arnaud. That's a beginning for Herman to build on.

"The fact that we've got a QB who played every snap last season and still two years of eligibility is a big plus for us," Rhoads said. "Austen is an exciting and talented player who is smart and has a lot of savvy. We want to put him in the situations where he can have comfort and confidence. And for him to be here as we start gives us a pretty good launching spot."

But turning the culture around and making them relevant will be a bigger challenge for Herman than any Mensa test he has ever completed.

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