Stan Eggen steps into new role as defensive ends coach, earns team’s respect


Defensive ends coach Stan Eggen works with senior defensive end Cory Morrissey during the first open practice March 10 at the Bergstrom Football Complex.

Ryan Young

As a head football coach, Paul Rhoads has seen a lot. There was one event, however, for which he was not prepared.

On Jan. 15, defensive ends coach Curtis Bray suffered a pulmonary embolism and passed away at the age of 43. It put Rhoads in a situation unlike any other ISU coach had experienced in his career.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever been around a tougher one,” Rhoads said of the situation. “I would still describe that as the longest day of my life. Everything that’s followed has been painful and a process. I was very methodical about the hire and getting the right guy. It’s without a doubt been a challenge.”

With Bray’s coaching job vacant, Rhoads had to find a replacement. After nearly a month of searching, he turned to Stan Eggen.

Eggen, the former Louisiana Tech defensive line coach, has more than 30 years of collegiate coaching experience, coaching at 12 different schools before coming to Iowa State.

“There’s three things I’m always looking for in a coach,” Rhoads said. “One of them is the X’s and O’s, being able to teach. The second is being able to recruit in a specific area. The third is someone who cares about the welfare of our kids. Knowing Stan like I have since 1989, I knew I had the entire package. He’s doing a great job.”

Even though Eggen has been around the game of football for more than three decades, he says he has never been in a situation as difficult as this.

“As a coach you handle a lot of unique situations. Obviously this was very unique for me and something that I had not experienced,” Eggen said. “I think if you are honest and up front, and you let them talk about it, you then realize you all want the same thing — that is to continue to build and to become better.”

Perhaps the most difficult aspect for Eggen was meeting the players for the first time. With the defensive ends still grieving for their late coach, he knew that anything could happen.

“It was a very emotional meeting,” Eggen said. “The players handled it extremely well. You learn how to lean on one another and continue to grow. It is all a part of the ‘family’ atmosphere that Coach Rhoads preaches and talks about every day.”

Prior to the first meeting, senior defensive end Cory Morrissey didn’t know what to expect from his new coach. Eggen’s initial message, however, seemed to really show Morrissey how dedicated he is to his new job.

“Eggen knew it was a different circumstance coming in,” Morrissey said. “He basically said he is just going to add on to what Coach Bray did for us. He doesn’t want us to have contradicting stuff, but he wants to add on. He’s really done that.”

Eggen steps into a position with lots of talent to work with. Along with Morrissey, who was an honorable mention All-Big 12 pick last season, Eggen also has sophomore Mitchell Meyers and junior transfer Gabe Luna.

Even though Eggen has only been with his players for a few months, he has already earned their respect.

“He’s a really good coach, I respect him,” Luna said of Eggen. “I feel blessed to be a part of his room, being one of his players. He’s everything. From the moment we set foot on the field to the moment we leave, he wants to get better. He will find every possible way to make you better.”