FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas has named defensive backs coach Paul Rhoads as its new defensive coordinator, coach Bret Bielema tweeted Monday night after a team meeting.
— Bret Bielema (@BretBielema) January 17, 2017
Rhoads will replace Robb Smith, who resigned and took the Minnesota defensive coordinator job last week.
Rhoads spent seven seasons as Iowa State’s head coach before being fired after the 2015 season. His time there included some major successes, but the Cyclones were unable to improve and went 8-29 over his final three seasons.
Prior to Rhoads becoming Iowa State’s head coach, he was a defensive coordinator at Pittsburgh for eight years and at Auburn for a season.
Rhoads takes over a defense that will likely shift to a 3-4 base scheme following a dreadful 2016 season.
The Razorbacks returned nine starters on that side of the ball but finished the season ranked 75th in the country in total defense and 94th in rushing defense.
The Hogs allowed 39 rushing touchdowns — the most in the entire FBS.
The low point of the season was an embarrassing 56-3 loss at Auburn on Oct. 22. The Tigers rushed for 543 yards — the most ever against an Arkansas defense — that night.
Rhoads was defensive coordinator at Pittsburgh from 2000 through 2007, and five of his seven defenses ranked in the top 30 nationally in scoring defense. During his final season at Pitt, the Panthers held No. 2- ranked West Virginia to only 9 points in a late-season upset that ultimately cost the Mountaineers a chance to play for the national championship.
That West Virginia team averaged nearly 40 points per game with offensive superstars Pat White and Steve Slaton.
Rhoads then spent the 2008 season as Auburn’s defensive coordinator before he got the Iowa State head coaching job.
The Cyclones went to bowl games in three of Rhoads’ first four seasons.
After leaving Iowa State, Bielema hired Rhoads to coach Arkansas defensive backs in 2016.