Those of you that have visited my office are aware of the collection of photographs on my wall of eight individuals. Three of them are coaches, and two of them are political figures from the 1960’s. All of them are there because I have tremendous respect for each one of them, and each of them has qualities or character traits that I believe are important, and I in turn try to emulate. They stand as a reminder to me, and help me clarify my belief systems. The idea to do that was not original. Few of mine are! I got it from a visit I made a number of years ago to Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home in Virginia. He has thirteen portraits of some of history’s greatest individuals on the wall in one of his rooms. Many of them were his contemporaries, and it was explained by the tour guide that each of those people were individuals Jefferson held is high esteem and respect. So, I stole the idea!
I won’t bore you with the list, but on my wall I have Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dan McCarney, Pat Summit, and Tom Osborne, to name a few of them. The wall has been fluid as some of the individuals that once occupied a spot have been taken down. I had a tremendous amount of respect for Bobby Knight, despite his warts, but as his antics continued, it seemed like his arrogance had finally become his demise. Lou Holtz was up there too, but after it was shown that some of the “questionable” things that happened at Notre Dame during his tenure happened with his knowledge, I decided to take him down as well.
Now I plan to add a new one: Paul Rhoads. Coach Rhoads, Head Football Coach at Iowa State University, is my kind of guy. He wears his passion on his sleeve and there is no mistaking that he is committed to the young men who toil for him throughout the year on the football field. He does not make or accept excuses. And, he makes it clear whenever he has the chance, that there is no place he would rather be than in Ames, Iowa coaching the Iowa State Cyclones.
It seems for many of us, we are always chasing that grass that is greener on the other side of the fence, and do not acknowledge that perhaps we are in the place we belong. Coach Rhoads is often mentioned for jobs that come open at “better places to coach football than Iowa State” simply because folks in the media and fans who believe that he has to be driven to “move up.” But what if Coach Rhoads believes that he can move Iowa State up and that the challenge for him is to make it a place where individual will aspire to coach? You see, it appears to me that at least in his eyes, it doesn’t get any better than Iowa State, and he is going to work to make people believe that it belongs in the same breath as other schools with successful football programs.
Coach Rhoads, I like your style!