Iowa State football bet on the “wrong horse” for a coach — a “teachable moment” for management

Coach Herman

Iowa State’s athletic department bet on the wrong horse when it came to a football coach — a “teachable moment” for its athletic department but also management in general.

In November 2015, Paul Rhoades was fired as ISU’s head football coach after a dismal 3-8 season and 32-54 overall. But the “hidden talent” was Tom Herman, the offensive coordinator and quarterback coach under Rhoades for three seasons.

In December 2011, Urban Meyer selected Herman as his offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Ohio State Buckeyes. This should have been a clue to ISU’s athletic department that Herman was a real talent.

In 2014, Herman was hired by Houston as its new head football coach. He led his 21st-ranked team to an 11–1 start and the Western Division title in the American Athletic Conference. In December 2015 — about the same time Rhoades was fired — Herman led the 14th-ranked Cougars to a 38–24 victory over the 9th-ranked Florida State Seminoles at the Peach Bowl. The Cougars had not beaten an AP top-10 team in a bowl game since 1979. The Cougars ended the season ranked #8 in both the AP and Coaches Polls, their highest post-season ranking since 1979.

This weekend Houston upset #3 Oklahoma 33-23 (a Big 12 team like ISU). Now Houston is being named as a serious College Football Playoff contender and Herman has been named the “hottest coach in football.” Rhoades, meanwhile, is the defensive backs coach at Arkansas.

And as for Iowa State: It was upset by Northern Iowa in its opening game. Ouch.

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

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