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January 17, 2008

Now that Paul Rhoads has accepted, and it’s (hopefully) too late for his return, I thought I’d give the Auburn fans some of my very biased perspective on the Rhoads tenure. They keep visiting and seem somewhat surprised that Pitt fans aren’t rending their shirts at the news of his departure.
Here are the basic numbers.

Year — Def. Ranking — Run Def. — Pass Def.

2007 —– 5th ———– 33d ——– 3d
200687th ——– 107th ——— 29th
200531st ——— 94th ———- 2nd
2004 —- 73d ——– 48th ———- 100th
200379th ——– 87th ———- 54th
200212th ——– 24th ———- 18th
20017th ——— 26th ———- 6th
2000 —- 29th —— 17th ———— 80th

That’s the kind of consistency Pitt has seen on the defensive side in the Rhoads tenure. The minute the talent previously recruited started graduating, the defense slid. Rhoads as a recruiter has been anything but good.

I’ll start with this post back in November about this season. After years of preaching “read and react” defensive schemes, Rhoads then had the gall to claim he has always been a proponent of aggressive defenses. He doesn’t do halftime adjustments or any adjustments. There’s a gameplan and he’ll stick to it.

The media will love him. Rhoads is a charmer in person by all accounts. It is why he has been well supported by media and the administration. He also disappears when things aren’t good. When things go well, he’s happy to talk. No one likes a guy who won’t be accountable in the bad times as well as the good.
Even halfway through this season, it looked like Rhoads was finally done as the media had finally conceded he hasn’t performed well.

This past season, Rhoads was stripped of secondary coaching and instead oversaw the linebackers. This was Wannstedt’s call to force Rhoads to pay more attention to stopping the run. Emphasis up front more. It was a brilliant move by Wannstedt because it recognized and used a key issue with Rhoads — When he had the focus on the secondary, he wouldn’t put them in a position to get burned at the expense of the rest of the defense. Now that he’s got the linebackers, he doesn’t want them looking bad. The result, for the first time in Rhoads’ tenure, the safeties were actually brought up in run support. Something Pitt fans had been screaming for years.

He preaches “fundamentals” but teaches crap. The focus has been on how good the defense has been this year. Consider what he’s done in past years, as well. If it’s about talent, then the question still remains — what role does the DC play as a recruiter? Rhoads escaped a lot of accountability for the talent slide on the defense.

Oh, and finally, Rhoads has historically sucked at getting the defense to handle spread offenses. I don’t think that can be stressed enough.
Thank you, once more Auburn and Tommy Tuberville for hiring Paul Rhoads. He’s your problem now.





Excellent stuff chas. that is spot on!

Comment by Adam 01.17.08 @ 11:27 am

To say this year was the first time in Rhoads is not true. Does anyone remember Ramon Walker? Both safeties playing back was instituded when Wannstedt got here.

I think he fell on the sword for DW with a lot of the recent lack of aggression on defense. He’s a good guy and a good coach who the players love.

Comment by CB 01.17.08 @ 11:45 am

can’t really bash his rationale:

Pryor already took an official visit to Ohio State and said he counts Ohio State, Michigan, Florida, Louisiana State, Oregon and Penn State among his finalists.

“I want to play in a college town, a facility that has 100,000 and is packed,” Pryor said. “That’s how I want to do it.”

Comment by Scott 01.17.08 @ 11:48 am

I seem to remember that Ramon Walker hit like a freight train, but tackled like my 6 year old stepson – that is to say…he didn’t tackle. Now that would appear to be a function of poor coaching. Secondly, hitting hard is a function of the player, not the coach. Rhoads sucks. Q.E.D.

Comment by Jeff P. 01.17.08 @ 11:49 am

Fell on the sword for DW? No one fell on the sword here, he took a BETTER JOB! I’m thrilled that he’s leaving, but it shouldn’t be lost on anyone that this is a promotion. Someone (Auburn, at least) thought he was doing a good job.

Comment by Maz 01.17.08 @ 11:59 am

I have always been a positive fervent supporter of PITT athletics. I know this can make it difficult for me to be objective at times of criticism towards the program.

I really can’t understand why Auburn would hire Coach Rhodes and double his salary. He is a great guy and the players appear to bond well with him. Some incinuated that he is a good recruiter over the years but I can’t remember him ever landing top talent. In the big games (except WVU) his d was consistently scorched with the run. It has become such an issue that it was mentioned that Coach W might have been responsible for the d in the WVU win. His overall performance at PITT was a C+.

Maybe it will be different at Auburn. Time will tell. I just don’t know what it is about this guy that he has been brought up for HC jobs and just got a pay raise with a performance eval that is less than stellar.

This leaves us with his replacement. He definately has small shoes to fill.

Comment by Ironhead 01.17.08 @ 12:02 pm

I still have visions of Kevin Jones putting up 256 yards rushing against us…..
Paul rhoads always struggled against the run. I agree with ironhead. Auburn is a big name program. Why would they want rhoads??? he is a decent to poor D1 dc.

Comment by Adam 01.17.08 @ 12:12 pm

Long and Petrino at Arkansas probably put a bug in the Auburn AD’s ear about how good Rhoads is. Their first step in sabotaging the SEC as inside men and guaranteeing themselves at least one win in the process.

;-)

Comment by Dave in Orlando 01.17.08 @ 12:29 pm

Adam,

I was thinking of that exact game and the debacle against N.D. (.i.e. Julius Jones) as I wrote that post.

Maybe it’s the argument that he didn’t have talent.

Comment by Ironhead 01.17.08 @ 12:38 pm

I’m not losing sleep over Rhoads leaving but i will say that his main area to recruit is Ohio and the Erie area. Let’s face it that all the good talent in Ohio goes to OSU and if OSU wants a kid, they usually get him. Rhoads was responsible for getting Joe Thomas and although people will say he’s not lived up to his billing, OSU made a late push to get him. He also got us Mo Williams and Dan Matha.

Comment by Fcuk Paterno 01.17.08 @ 12:52 pm

The gernal tone all year was that Rhoads must go. We had the 13-9 game and that went away alillte bit.

I am glad to see him go (and wish him well). I was very happy to see Dunn go. I hope W gets the guys he wants to fill these spots.

Comment by matt'shouse 01.17.08 @ 1:12 pm

I want the guy who was responsible for the 13-9 defense to coach every game, at that level of intensity. I don’t know who it is, but that’s who i want. Maybe Wannstedt will take over the D. But i doubt it.

Comment by Stuart 01.17.08 @ 2:21 pm

Paul Rhodes Disasters:
2005: opener, ND 42 Pitt 21, how do you let by 42 in front of a sell out crowd that was nuts?
2006: 2 OT loss vs. Uconn, I never knew DJ Hernandez was a Heisman candidate, no bowl game as a result
2006: Michigan St. 38, Pitt 23
Rhodes had 2 and a half quarters to adjust to Drew Stanton running the option, no adjustment made
2005: Lousiville 42 Pitt 21, Bush and Brohm run and throw at will, did we ever bliz? The ‘ville scores a touchdown with less than 1 minute left because they could do whatever they wanted.
2003: Anyone remember how many points Ingle Martin and IAA Furman put up against the mighty Rhodes D
2004 Fiesta Bowl vs Utah: Did Rhodes even know that Alex Smith was the quarterback? Four quarters of humiliation.
2005 and 2006: Did the D show up against WVU? Blades was injured in the 2005 Brawl, but change the scheme to adjust for back up’s.
2007 vs Navy: Kipo whatever his name is and Paul Johnson run at will over the mighty Pitt D, Rhodes had almost 2 weeks to prepare and as I recall, the defense only stopped Navy once
2001: new Division I team South Florida enters Heinz Field, they are ranked 117th by Sports Illustrated, I don’t remember the score, but I remember being a sophomore in high school sitting by the radio hearing Bill and Bill in disgust

Auburn, you are in the SEC. This is the best coach you could get. Thank you for an early Christmas present. Let Wanny run the D.

Comment by AJ 01.17.08 @ 2:38 pm

Fields says he’ll be back sometime in mid-Feb according to the PG…..

Comment by Bob 01.17.08 @ 4:29 pm

I say enough Rhoades bashing. Why bash him on his way out the door. Lets congratulate him on his new job and move on. Who does everyone think will end up as the new DC?

Im wondering if Sunseri would like to coach on a team with his son?

Comment by Rex 01.17.08 @ 4:36 pm

stewart mandel has us ranked 25 for 08, pitt doin big things

Comment by the breast stroke is the best stroke 01.17.08 @ 5:20 pm

Have any of you Rhoads bashers ever thought the talent level @ Pitt isn’t very good? He will be stepping into a VERY FAST,VERY TALENTED D squad @ Auburn. Good luck to ya’ll,you’re going to need it.

WAR EAGLE

Comment by Alphonso Poole 01.17.08 @ 6:15 pm

Time to quit commenting about Rhoads and figure out who’s coming in. Gattuso & Sunseri would both be nice…………. but let’s get one of them rolling and Wise for the OL and have things lined up before there’s any chance of losing any of the unsigned recruits……….

Comment by Mtoolmn 01.17.08 @ 6:32 pm

Who here wants to be “Alphonso Poole” will be singin a different song after a mind-numbing loss this year?

Good luck Rhoads, and good luck Auburn. I won’t forget, we’ll see what happens this fall…

Comment by Stuart 01.17.08 @ 6:36 pm

I forgot:

Yeah, that’s it, the talent. Keep telling yourselves that. Cause Utah, Furman, Uconn, Navy and USF have been outrecruiting Pitt for decades…

Since you won’t be able to use “talent” as an excuse next year, if all doesn’t go well, what’s the excuse gonna be then? “Growing pains”? “New System”? Better write some down so you have them ready, just in case…

Comment by Stuart 01.17.08 @ 7:02 pm

LOL AJ was that all from memory?

Comment by Bill 01.17.08 @ 7:20 pm

Sure talent was an issue in some cases. But in others it wasn’t. I really don’t know how good of a coach he is. I’m sure his time at AU will answer alot of these questions. Sometimes talent can overcome bad coaching. Some of the best coaching jobs are getting the best out of the players you have. Weather they are talented or not.

Comment by kp 01.17.08 @ 8:05 pm

I would like to see Gattuso moved up to the DC spot. He knows what it takes to win (Duquesne) and he does will with recruiting. The players look like they respond to him. My first thought was Sal, but after thinking it over, I am not sure if that would be good for the team with his son on the squad, it could cause some friction if people don’t like some decisions. I think the D will be good next year, I’m hopeful with some depth, some good health and some hard work the team should go 9-3 and make it to a BCS bowl. WVU is falling apart before our very eyes and they are going to have so many distractions and defections that they won’t be a factor. It’s up to Wanny and the staff to step up and grab that brass ring. It is OUR turn now and I really think they next five years are going to be special!

Comment by 13-9 01.17.08 @ 8:47 pm

I could go on for days about how overrated Rhodes is let’s all thank god he is gone…i can only assume Wanny was actively involved in the D the second half of the year…nothing else makes sense. And if he turns out to be a great coach good for him becasue it was NOT working here! 7 years was too long…
I would like to see Sunseri get the job but promoting Greg G isn’t a bad option either…

How about ND 2003 when Julius Jones ran for ND school record 262 yards and Brady Quinn completed like 5 passes he could not throw the ball at all…we knew they were going to run every play and we could not stop them…we never adjusted in any game…

I’m really excited to see what happens next year!

Comment by artj 01.17.08 @ 8:55 pm

Comment by Stuart 01.17.08 @ 8:57 pm

Bill, that was all from memory. It’s hard to forget the pain.

Comment by AJ 01.17.08 @ 10:11 pm

I say promote Gattuso to Asst head coach (and keep coaching the D-line) and hire Sal as the new DC…best of both worlds. Of course Pitt would have to pony up more cash for the “new” position.

Comment by joe in boise 01.18.08 @ 12:57 am

Tubby’s been good at picking DC’s. After all that’s what he was at one time. We’ll just have to see what happens .

Comment by Ed 01.18.08 @ 2:27 am

Teryl Austin, Sal Sunseri, or Gattuso

Comment by Adam 01.18.08 @ 8:24 am

Teryl Austin or Sal Sunseri would give us a 3 headed monster (wanny) for recruiting. some one also said Tim Lewis who would be a great hire also!

Comment by Kurt 01.18.08 @ 11:15 am

I would really like to see someone with experience as a DC. I dont want to have to struggle through someones growing pains.

Comment by Rex 01.18.08 @ 11:18 am

When he coached the secondary, Teams Could Not Pass. When he has LB’s, Teams Cant Run. WV being one of the best air/ground TEAMS Pitts DEFENSE kept them to less than 200yds total O. Dave AND Paul both being D. minded it seems strange to not be able to see Pauls areas of attention to have more dependable numbers. (NFL Drafts and the current MLB to show). So sure he’s terrible. Lets just compare Pitts #5 Defense and Auburns #6 defense next year. Im guessing His strong willed competitive nature WILL NOT finish behind Pitt. And wouldnt hesitate to hope for good things for Daves Panther team next year. I think we should hope for someone of his equal talent.

Comment by RBI 01.18.08 @ 11:11 pm

Players play/Coaches Coach and Great players still need to be coached but Injurys kill always kill a good defenses

Comment by joe 01.18.08 @ 11:16 pm

RBI – it wasnt that teams couldnt pass on us with rhoades, why would they try when we were getting scorched for 200+ rushing yards?

Comment by matt in orlando 01.19.08 @ 12:29 pm

[…] But Pitt Blather has some kind of sobering numbers: […]


It takes you guys 7 years to figure out a coach isn’t any good? No wonder you’ve got problems. He’ll be gone in 2 years if Tubbs thinks he’s a bad coach. I’d be looking for a head coach if I were you , I bet he does well at Auburn. We’ll see what happens.

Comment by Ed 01.20.08 @ 8:53 am

According to local sources, Tuberville tried to get Rhodes before the 2003 season but was not successful. After Muschamp left, Tubs had to attend a coaching conference (in san diego I think) where he said his phone was ringing off the hook with interest. We are returning 6 starters on a very good and young D. Somehow after all that interest and second interviews, Tubs still picked Rhodes. Tubs also has a great track record of picking assitant coaches (2003 OC experiment was lone exception). As long as Rhodes can teach our D backs to turn around and look for the deep ball (muschamp taught faceguarding apparently), he will be successful. Our front 7 is rock solid. WAR EAGLE and good luck in ’08 panthers.

Comment by tigertracker 01.27.08 @ 1:58 pm

Thanks for your spin on Rhodes. AU has had numerous D-coords over the years under Tubby. If he doesn’t get it done he is out. However Tubbs is really our DC, not the DC. Has always been that way and we have always been good if not great on defense under him. I’m not worried about Rhodes but will remember your post this season. War Eagle, good luck Panthers in ’08!

Comment by eric 02.26.08 @ 9:08 am

Tuberville is obviously slipping. He ruined recruiting by letting his assistants try to recruit against Nick Saban. Muschamp said “I’m out of here”and CTT was left to recruit and find another DC. So he went duck hunting.

Comment by James Joyce 03.23.08 @ 1:14 am

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