Spending eight seasons absorbing knowledge under Bill Snyder, Kansas University football coach Mark Mangino became well aware of one of Snyder's strongest traits.
"Coach Snyder always made good decisions and good judgments," Mangino said Wednesday. "If he thinks the time is right, then I support him."
Snyder, Kansas State's head coach, announced his retirement Tuesday after 17 seasons in charge. He'll coach his last game Saturday against Missouri, then stick around as a special advisor to the athletic department while KSU football moves on without him.
The Wildcats, a program left for dead in the 1980s before Snyder's arrival, became a perennial national power less than 10 years after being called the worst college football program in America. Snyder is 135-68-2 at KSU, a run that included 11 bowl games, seven 10-plus-victory seasons and a Big 12 Conference title.
Mangino is among several disciples of Snyder who have grabbed Division I-A head-coaching jobs in recent years. Others include Oklahoma's Bob Stoops, Arizona's Mike Stoops, South Florida's Jim Leavitt and SMU's Phil Bennett.
"I learned a lot from him," Mangino said of Snyder. "He's a very intelligent guy. A great coach, a great motivator, and I really enjoyed my time with him. I learned a great deal from him."
Mangino said he spoke with Snyder after the announcement, but wouldn't elaborate.
Mangino left Kansas State after the 1998 season - arguably the Wildcats' best team of the Snyder era - to become an assistant under Bob Stoops at Oklahoma. He was offensive coordinator for Oklahoma's 2000 national-championship team, then left OU to become head coach at Kansas in 2002.
Since then, KU has shown noticeable improvement, even leveling out the once-lopsided rivalry with Kansas State. Still, Mangino wouldn't acknowledge the possibility of an even more dramatic shifting of in-state power with Snyder's departure.
"I don't think that's a factor," Mangino said. "We've got to take care of our business. We've got to continue to work hard and get better."
¢ Back at it: The Jayhawks took Monday and Tuesday off and went back to work Wednesday, practicing outside in the chill.
"They moved around pretty good," Mangino said. "I thought we had a pretty good practice, a lot of spirit. I think the cold weather was good for them. It might be cold on game day."
KU will practice through the week, take Sunday off and have normal game preparation beginning Monday.
¢ Hicks ready: Iowa State, KU's opponent on Nov. 26, has been solid since the return of running back Stevie Hicks.
But, unable to shake a season-long aggravation, Hicks tweaked his ankle injury in ISU's victory over Colorado on Saturday, casting doubt as to whether the Cyclones would have him for the regular-season finale.
Hicks put it to rest the next day, though, looking sharp in practice.
"He'll be fine," ISU coach Dan McCarney said. "He'll practice this week, and, barring practice injuries, he'll definitely be ready to go for Kansas."