Q&A: Iowa St. assistant Tommy Mangino

February, 14, 2014
Feb 14
9:00
AM ET
Mark won’t be the only Mangino manning the Iowa State offense next season.

His son, Tommy Mangino, was hired as the Cyclones’ receivers coach last week.

Tommy Mangino served as an offensive graduate assistant at Kansas for two seasons (2008-09) under his father, and most recently was a graduate assistant at Arkansas.

Mangino took time from settling into his new home in Ames to speak with ESPN.com about his new gig, coaching with his father and the upside of the Iowa State offense in 2014:

How excited are you about being a full-time assistant at a BCS school?

Tommy Mangino: I’m really excited. I couldn’t be in a better situation from the head coach (Paul Rhoads) to obviously the offensive coordinator (Mark Mangino) to working with guys I’ve worked with before. There’s a certain comfort level here for a young guy to come into a BCS job. It’s really exciting.

On top of this being your first full-time assistant job, you get to coach with your dad. That has to make it even more special, right?

Mangino: It’s great to be with him and to have the opportunity to work with my dad -- all that’s great. But that’s not the only thing. It’s fun to be with him and to work under him. But there are a lot of other aspects to this job. The one who is most excited is my mom because she gets to see her grandson.

What have you learned from your dad about being a coach?

Mangino: That you gotta take every day with the same attitude. You can’t get too high, or too low. You have to be even-keel and keep faith in the plan you’ve got. If you stick to your plan, good things can happen. If you deviate from the plan, it’s not going to work out.

Your dad has had some time away from coaching at this level. Have you seen any changes in him during that time?

Mangino: I wouldn’t say he’s changed or a different person. But I will say he’s taken the time to reflect on what he’s done in the past. He’s gotten to spend a lot of time with people around the country. He’s had time to gather his thoughts. Coaches never have time to gather thoughts and reflect. That’s a huge advantage he’s had. Other people are always coaching nonstop. This has given him a chance to reevaluate the system, the way he goes about things. The chance to reevaluate everything has really helped.

It’s been four years since he’s coached at this level. How excited is he about that?

Mangino: There’s no doubt he’s excited to be back at this level. But he’s also excited to be at Iowa State. The fan base, the mentality of the team, what coach Rhoads has instilled in his kids, it’s one of those special places. Playing against Iowa State, watching them compete, you can just tell there’s an edge to the team and the program. They have a structure and a plan here and they follow it, and that’s right up his alley.

[+] EnlargeMark Mangino
Courtesy of Youngstown StateMark Mangino will coach with his son at Iowa State.
When your dad was head coach, Kansas reached a level of success that almost seems unreal now. Can that level of success be reached at Iowa State?

Mangino: I don’t have a magic eight ball to tell you that. You never know. But what I can tell you is the plan is there and the mentality is there. Sometimes the chips fall your way. I can’t tell you being here a week or six months from now that we can win 12 games. But I can tell you a plan and everything is in place to have success. Whether that’s seven wins, eight wins, nine wins, whatever it is, you’ve gotta stick to your plan.

How important was it for Iowa State to sign Allen Lazard, and how good can he be?

Mangino: I got to meet Allen last weekend and spend time with him. What I can tell you about him is how unbelievably mature he is, how mature he was about the whole (recruiting process). He knew where he wanted to go. (Iowa State) did a great job recruiting him. At Arkansas, we evaluated him and wanted to go after him, but we just knew Iowa State had a great handle on him. He was a local kid, and they did a great job of getting him here. He has huge upside, because of his maturity. He has the intangibles you look for in a player. Not just as a wide receiver, but as a face of your program years from now. Will he leave as a great player? I can’t predict that. But he has what takes to be a really great player here.

If you just looked at last year’s stats, you wouldn’t be optimistic about Iowa State’s offense next season. But there are several pieces coming back to really like. So does this offense have the potential to, say, finish in the top half of the league statistically in 2014?

Mangino: I can’t predict that we’ll finish in the upper half, but I can say we have the pieces. I watched video from last year, and we have some really good players on this team. I might be putting some pressure on us, or putting my foot in my mouth, but we have a lot of players to be successful. From my position (wide receivers), we didn’t lose one kid from last year. I think it could be a really good group.

It seems the players there really respond to coach Rhoads. Being down 17 with no postseason on the line and rallying at West Virginia to win the final game seemed to underscore that. What have you seen from coach Rhoads so far?

Mangino: Like you said, being down to West Virginia, that just shows the toughness he instills in the kids, the edge they play with, the fight, never giving up. That’s what I’m about, and I learned that from my dad, being around him, to keep that level head, no matter what’s going on. I remember in 2008 we played up here and were down 20-something-to-zero at halftime, and we came back and won the game (35-33). That’s how we operated at Kansas, and I think coach Rhoads has that same exact makeup. It doesn’t matter what the score is, you play four quarters and give it your all. That’s what I love about coach Rhoads.

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