After just a few months in Ames, new coordinator Mark Mangino is drawing rave reviews. At least from the two Iowa State offensive players who attended Big 12 media days this week.
“My first impression when I met him was, wow, this is a nice guy who genuinely cares -- contrary to some of the reasons he left KU,” said Tom Farniok, Iowa State’s four-year starter at center.
This offseason, head coach Paul Rhoads tabbed Mangino to turn around an Iowa State offense that was one of the worst in the country last season.
The Cyclones ranked 89th nationally in points and 107th in yards. In fact, the last time Iowa State ranked any higher than ninth in the Big 12 in scoring offense was 2005.
“I reached out to him and certainly had great respect for what he's done in our profession,” Rhoads said this week. “I coached against him in 2009, my first year as the head football coach at Iowa State. Then his proven track record as a play-caller, as a tough-guy type of coach in what he could bring to our offensive mentality that way, but at the very top of the list was the simplicity with which his offenses have had success, and that was something that our program needed.”
Mangino’s resume included a national championship as the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma, then an Orange Bowl victory as the head coach at Kansas.
But he had been out of coaching at the FBS level for four years after resigning at Kansas in 2009 following accusations of verbal abuse of players.
“I thought he’d be a good a coach that might be a little bit of a jerk, just based off media reports. That’s all you have. Because I had never talked to anyone who knew him or talked to him myself. That’s all you have to go off of,” Farniok said. “Then you meet the guy, and you realize he cares. He cares a lot."
That doesn't mean Mangino has gone soft.
“I mean, if you mess up, he’ll jump on you," Farniok said. "But to me, that’s how football should be coached. If you mess up, you deserve to get your butt chewed. So to me, it’s like, he’s not a jerk at all. He’s just a good guy who coaches hard. Which is what I would think is expected of everyone that coaches, to get the best out of your players.”
Tight end E.J. Bibbs agrees.
“He’s very outgoing,” he said. “People don’t see that. In film room, he’s very goofy and relaxed. He knows how to motivate players and get them ready to play for him. When he first came in, I thought he was just going to be the offensive coordinator. But when I found out he was going to be the tight end coach, it made me even more excited.
“He’s been phenomenal.”
The Cyclones have kept a lid on just exactly what the offense will look like in Mangino’s first season.
But Farniok believes that with Mangino pulling the strings for an offense that returns 10 starters, the Cyclones could -- at long last -- be in for that elusive breakout offensive season.
“Obviously, to take Kansas to an Orange Bowl victory, you have to be a smart guy,” Farniok said. “But you don’t understand how much he knows until you talk football with him. Then you’re like, ‘Oh man. This dude is on a whole new level of football knowledge.’
"We're pumped about what he's going to bring."