Ames, Iowa After four years out of the spotlight, Mark Mangino is ready for a new challenge in the Big 12.
Fixing Iowa State’s offense figures to be one of the toughest tasks in the league.
Mangino was introduced Thursday as the new offensive coordinator for the Cyclones. It is Mangino’s first job at a major program since he left Kansas University amid allegations of player mistreatment following the 2009 season.
Mangino spent three years away from the game, in part to support his wife through her successful battle against breast cancer. He spent last season as an assistant at Youngstown State before being lured to Iowa State — his fourth job in the Big Eight/Big 12 — by coach Paul Rhoads.
“I’m a believer that things happen for a reason. It was meant for me to be out for a little while,” Mangino said.
Mangino’s ugly split from Kansas seems to be old news in Ames, where the reaction to his hiring has been largely positive. The Cyclones have struggled to score for years, and Mangino is one of the best offensive coaches in league history.
Mangino was Bill Snyder’s offensive coordinator at Kansas State from 1991-98, and he helped Bob Stoops win a national championship in his three seasons at Oklahoma.
Mangino’s Kansas teams were often among the nation’s best on offense. His tenure in Lawrence was highlighted by an Orange Bowl win following the 2007 season, when Mangino was named the Associated Press National Coach of the Year.
Mangino again defended his time at Kansas on Thursday, saying that neither he nor his coaches “crossed the line.” He and Kansas reached a $3 million settlement in 2009.
“Whether it’s perception or reality, you have to deal with it,” Mangino said. “You have to constantly work on being a better player, a better coach, a better person. And I’m no different. Sure, there are probably some things that I could have handled differently at times (at Kansas). But overall, I’m proud of my work there. I stand behind it.”
Iowa State is hoping the coach some have dubbed the “Mangenius” can finally solve their issues on offense. The Cyclones were 91st nationally at just 24.8 points a game in 2013, and Rhoads fired coordinator Courtney Messingham less than 24 hours after the season ended.
“I don’t have any secret formula. I wish I did. If I did, I’d probably be going around and selling it out of the back of a pickup truck,” Mangino said. “What I have to offer is pretty simple. Hard work.”
Despite Iowa State’s scoring issues last season, Mangino should have plenty to work with.
The Cyclones bring nearly everyone back on offense, including a pair of young quarterbacks with promise.
Freshman Grant Rohach seized the starting job late in the season from ineffective sophomore Sam Richardson, who battled injuries and appeared skittish at times behind a patchwork offensive line.
Rohach threw for 331 yards and four touchdowns in the season finale, and Iowa State twice rallied from 24 points down to beat West Virginia 52-44 in triple-overtime.
The Cyclones also have running back Aaron Wimberly and wide receiver Quenton Bundrage. Wimberly led the Cyclones in rushing with 567 yards despite a number of injuries, and nine of Bundrage’s 48 receptions were for touchdowns.
“The cupboard’s not bare. I’m not coming in here as a rebuilding project on offense. There are players here. This is more of a remodeling job,” Mangino said.