Who needs a press release? Not in 2017. Bret Bielema took to Twitter to announce Arkansas’ new defensive coordinator is going to be an internal hire:
Rhoads has been the favorite in the clubhouse since we found out Robb Smith was probably going to leave. Rhoads has an extensive history as a defensive coordinator, mostly at Pitt but also a year at Auburn, and of course was the head coach at Iowa State prior to coming to Arkansas in February 2016.
He was considered a steal as a defensive backs coach, so when the opportunity to promote him presented itself, many expected it to happen.
Despite Arkansas’ putrid defense in 2016, many believe the secondary was the most improved group on the defense. Arkansas’ pass defense was better statistically in 2016 than 2015, and now Rhoads will be tasked with turning around the rest the entire unit.
Here’s what UA told us about his DC experience when he was hired nearly a year ago:
Prior to returning to Iowa State, he spent the 2008 season as the defensive coordinator at Auburn under former head coach Tommy Tuberville, where his defense ranked 18th nationally in scoring, allowing 18.0 points per game and 178.8 yards passing to rank 22nd nationally.
From 2000-07, Rhoads served as defense coordinator at Pittsburgh for eight seasons. Five of his defenses ranked in the nation’s top 30 for scoring and three in the NCAA’s top 12 for fewest yards allowed. Additionally, 14 of his Panther defenders earned All-Big East first team acclaim. In 2006, The Sporting News named him the Big East’s best defensive coordinator. His 2004 defense ranked ninth nationally with 17 interceptions and four defensive touchdowns, helping propel the Panthers to a Big East Conference championship and an appearance in the 2005 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. Rhoads had five players selected to NFL drafts, including Revis (2007, Jets), Bernard “Josh” Lay (2006, New Orleans Saints), Shawntae Spencer (2004, San Francisco 49ers), Torrie Cox (2003, Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Ramon Walker (2002, Houston Texans).