Arizona Football

Arizona Wildcats’ New Defensive Coordinator: Former Iowa State Coach Paul Rhoads

Information for this report provided by Arizona’s media relations department:

Arizona coach Kevin Sumlin has announced the addition of former Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads to the Wildcats’ staff as defensive coordinator. Rhoads brings more than 30 years of coaching experience to the Arizona staff.

“I am very happy to announce that Paul Rhoads has agreed to join the Arizona football family as our defensive coordinator,” Sumlin said in a statement. “Paul is a man of personal and professional integrity. He brings to Arizona a history of proven success as a leader and teacher who will bring a focus on relationships, communication and fundamentals. I look forward to working with Paul as we continue to position our program for future success.”

Rhoads comes to Tucson from UCLA where he served the past two seasons as the program’s defensive backs coach. In Rhoads’ first season at UCLA, the Bruins defense improved statistically in several categories including average gain per rush allowed, total offense yards allowed per game, turnovers forced and points per game allowed.

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“I can’t begin to express how excited and grateful I am to have the opportunity to work alongside Coach Sumlin and the rest of the Arizona Football Family,” Rhoads said in the statement. “I look forward to getting to know our student-athletes and getting to work on putting them in a position to be successful at a high level. (My wife) Vickie and I are thrilled to be able to become a part of the University of Arizona and Tucson community.”
Prior to his time at UCLA, Rhoads spent two years at Arkansas. He served as the defensive backs coach in 2016, before taking over as the defensive coordinator in 2017. He also served a the program’s interim head coach following the November dismissal of Bret Bielema.

Rhoads, a veteran of 10 bowl games in his career, arrived at Arkansas after a seven-year stint as the head coach at Iowa State, where he led the Cyclones to three bowl games and 32 wins. He led Iowa State to four wins over ranked opponents, including three on the road, which marked half of the school’s all-time road victories over ranked teams at the time. In his first season at Iowa State, he led the team to the program’s first win at Nebraska in 32 years and a win over Minnesota in the Insight Bowl.

The veteran coach had four linebackers garner All-Big-12 first-team honors and two earn All-America accolades while he was at Iowa State.

Rhoads was hired at Iowa State after a successful eight-year run at Pittsburgh as the defensive coordinator. Five of his defenses ranked in the nation’s top 30 for scoring, while three finished in the top 12 in the NCAA for fewest yards allowed. He also saw 14 of his defensive players earn All-Big East first-team honors. Rhoads coached two-time All-American and 2006 Jim Thorpe Award semifinalist Darrelle Revis.

Prior to his time at Pittsburgh, Rhoads spent five seasons at Iowa State on the defensive staff, first serving as the inside linebackers coach and then the defensive backs coach. His first stint at Iowa State came after three seasons at the University of Pacific, which served as his first full-time coaching job. Rhoads began his coaching career at Utah State as a graduate assistant in 1989, working there for two years before accepting a GA position at Ohio State in 1991.

Rhoads played collegiately at Missouri Western, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1989. He and his wife Vickie have two sons, Jake and Wyatt.

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Paul Rhoads Coaching History

  • University of Arizona Defensive Coordinator (2020-current)
  • UCLA Assistant Coach – Defensive Backs (2018-19)
  • University of Arkansas Defensive Coordinator (2017)
  • University of Arkansas Assistant Coach – Defensive Backs (2016)
  • Iowa State University Head Coach (2009-15)
  • Auburn University Defensive Coordinator (2008)
  • University of Pittsburgh Defensive Coordinator (2000-07)
  • Iowa State Assistant Coach (1995-99)
  • University of the Pacific Pass Game Coordinator (1994)
  • University of the Pacific Assistant Coach – Defensive Backs (1992-93)
  • Ohio State Graduate Assistant (1991)
  • Utah State Graduate Assistant (1989-90)

Paul Rhoads Coaching Highlights

  • 31 years of coaching experience, including nine as a Power Five defensive coordinator and seven as a Power Five head coach
  • A veteran of 10 bowl games
  • While at Pittsburgh, five of his defenses ranked in the Top 30 nationally in scoring, while three ranked among the Top 12 in the NCAA in fewest yards allowed
    • The Panthers finished fifth in the country in total defense in 2007
  • Coached seven-time NFL Pro Bowl selection and four-time All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis at Pittsburgh
    • Following his playing career under Rhoads, Revis was selected in the first round (14th overall) of the 2007 NFL Draft by the New York Jets
    • While at Pittsburgh, Revis was selected as a first-team Freshman All-American in 2004
    • Revis was named to first-team All-Big East twice in 2005 and 2006
    • 2006 semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award
  • As the head coach at Iowa State, led the Cyclones to four wins over ranked opponents, including a 37-31 victory over No. 2 Oklahoma State in 2011.
    • Three of Iowa State’s ranked upsets during his tenure came on the road

FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER! publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports,, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.

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