UCLA announces hire of defensive backs coach Paul Rhoads

Paul Rhoads leads Iowa State out of the tunnel against West Virginia in 2015. Rhoads, who spent seven years as the Iowa State head coach, will be UCLA’s next defensive backs coach. (AP Photo)

Chip Kelly added another coach to his defensive staff with previous coordinator experience Wednesday as UCLA officially announced the hire of defensive backs coach Paul Rhoads.

Rhoads, who was the head coach at Iowa State from 2009-15, was most recently the defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach at Arkansas, where he served as the interim head coach after Bret Bielema was fired in November.

The 50-year-old assistant spent two years with the Razorbacks, first as the defensive backs coach in 2016. Before Rhoads took over, the Razorbacks had the 116th-ranked passing defensive in the country, allowing 275.2 passing yards per game in 2015. He immediately boosted the group to 58th in the country in 2016, allowing 221.2 passing yards per game. Arkansas was ranked 88th last season with 242.2 yards allowed.

The Bruins allowed the fifth-lowest completion percentage in the Pac-12 this year, but gave up 18 passing touchdowns while grabbing only seven interceptions.

Rhoads is the third new coach hired under Kelly, joining defensive coordinator Jerry Azzinaro and linebackers coach Don Pellum, who both have previous coordinator experience. This will be Azzinaro’s fifth stint as a defensive coordinator and first since a three-year run at Duke from 2004-06. Pellum was Oregon’s defensive coordinator for two seasons.

While the defensive coaching staff will be almost entirely new, Kelly is expected to retain offensive line coach Hank Fraley, receivers coach Jimmie Dougherty, and running backs coach DeShaun Foster on the offensive staff. Defensive line coach Angus McClure is also expected to stay at the school in some capacity as well.