Rhoads Makes First Hire - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Rhoads Makes First Hire

AMES (KWWL)-- Remsen native Bill Bleil, who coached with Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads at Pacific and Pittsburgh, is Rhoads' first hire. Bleil, who has coached all-star performers in several conferences, including the Big Ten and Big East, will serve as assistant head coach and oversee an offensive position to be determined. He was also the head coach at Western Carolina for five seasons.

"I have coached with Bill at two schools and I know that he is an excellent coach," Rhoads said. "Bill is a great recruiter and I know that because I have recruited with and against him.  His Midwest background will make him an ideal fit for our staff."

Bleil just completed his fourth season at Akron, where he was the assistant head coach the last three seasons. After overseeing the running backs in his first two seasons with the Zips, Bleil coached the tackles and tight ends in 2007 and 2008.

"Iowa is home to my family," Bleil said. "The family part of this is important.  Even more important however is that Paul Rhoads is a great hire for Iowa State.  He is smart, driven and is just what Iowa State needs in a football coach."

Bleil's success in producing standout players continued at Akron last fall as offensive tackle Chris Kemme became the first Zip to be a three-time All-Mid American Conference selection. He was just the eighth Akron player to be named first-team All-MAC. Kemme anchored an offensive line that allowed just 1.5 sacks per game in 2008 as the Zip offense averaged nearly 400 yards per contest.

In his inaugural season at Akron, Bleil helped tutor second-team All-Mid-American Conference running back Brett Biggs, the program's first 1,000-yard rusher since the 2002 season. Biggs finished the season with 1,230 rushing yards, the fifth-highest single-season total in school history, and most since the Zips moved to the Football Bowl Subdivision in 1987. Biggs was also among the top receiving backs in the nation in 2005. His five catches per game ranked third nationally among backs. Biggs' efforts enabled the Zips to become the 31st team in NCAA history with a 1,000-yard rusher, 1,000-yard receiver and 3,000-yard passer.

 In 2006, Dennis Kennedy was tabbed second-team All-MAC, rushing for 914 yards despite missing a game-and-a-half due to an injury. Bleil's running backs also took care of the football. They fumbled just three times all of 2005, losing just one in the process. Biggs fumbled only once in 284 carries. Last season, Kennedy only coughed the ball up twice in 226 carries, while Andre Walker did not fumble once in 65 carries.

The 49-year-old Bleil spent the 2004 season as the offensive tackles/tight ends coach under Walt Harris at Pittsburgh as the Panthers went to their first-ever BCS bowl game when they took part in the 2005 Fiesta Bowl versus Utah. Rhoads was the Pitt defensive coordinator that season.

He served the 2003 season under Joe Novak at Northern Illinois, knocking off traditional powers Alabama and Maryland en route to posting a school-record 10-2 mark, and one year (2002) at South Dakota.

Bleil also has head-coaching experience, having led the Western Carolina program for five years (1997-01). During that span, he was named 2001 Southern Conference Coach of the Year and led the Catamounts to their first winning season since 1994 with a 6-5 mark in 1998. Also during his time there, he coached current Carolina Panthers running back Brad Hoover.

Prior to that stint in Cullowhee, N.C., Bleil served four seasons at Pacific (1992-95) and two years at Northwestern (1990-91). He was the offensive line coach at both stops before being elevated to offensive coordinator for the final three years with Pacific. Rhoads was also an assistant coach on that staff.

He and his wife Laurel have two children, Kevin (22) and Tim (20).

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