Opinion: Mangino staffers keep on winning

Saturday, October 26, 2013

One criticism leveled against Mark Mangino during his 50-48 reign as coach of a Kansas University football program trying to avoid a second consecutive bad century was that he was so hard to work for that it led to a high rate of turnover among assistants.

Mangino did have more staff defections than some — Missouri’s Gary Pinkel, for example — but he knew how to recruit quality replacements.

A look at how well members of Mangino’s last staff are doing proves as much. As for how well Mangino is doing in his role as assistant head coach/tight ends for Eric Wolford at Football Championship Subdivision school Youngstown State, the proof is in the standings. The Penguins (7-1 overall, 4-0 in Missouri Valley Conference) are tied for first with two-time defending national champion North Dakota State. The teams face each other Nov. 16. YSU’s only loss came to Football Bowl Subdivision school Michigan State.

Ed Warinner, offensive coordinator for Mangino when KU had the three highest total-yards-per-game outputs in school history, has a 19-0 record as Urban Meyer’s co-offensive coordinator/offensive line coach at Ohio State. Remembered as the architect of the pass-happy spread offense Todd Reesing piloted, Warinner coached for three Army offenses that led the nation in rushing and one Air Force offense that did the same. (As a rule, Air Force puts planes in the air but not footballs.)

Mangino’s defensive coordinator Clint Bowen is back at Kansas in a similar role, except that back then he also coached safeties and now works with linebackers. KU’s defense ranks tied for 66th in the nation with 27 points allowed per game and 72nd with 402 yards allowed, heading into today’s 6 p.m. kickoff against Baylor in Memorial Stadium. Those numbers and rankings are sure to fall because KU is heading into the schedule’s toughest stretch. Still, the improvement in a defense burdened by a three-an-out machine on offense is undeniable. A year ago, KU finished 112th and 116th in points and yards.

Mangino’s O-line coach, John Reagan, is offensive coordinator/running backs coach for a Rice squad tied for first in Conference USA with a 3-0 record and is 5-2 overall, especially impressive considering the academic standards at the school. Reagan’s offense has a 2-0 record against Kansas.

Tom Sims, Mangino’s last defensive line coach, is working in the same role for Wolford at Youngstown State.

Louie Matsakis, running backs coach for Mangino, is back at Kansas as director of player personnel for Charlie Weis.

Mangino’s last linebackers coach, Bill Miller, has the title assistant head coach/linebackers for Minnesota, which is coming off a 20-17 victory at Northwestern.

David Beaty, in charge of wide receivers for Mangino and for Turner Gill in his second and final season, coaches Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel’s targets at Texas A&M.

Je’Ney Jackson, a cornerbacks coach on Mangino’s final staff, is strength and conditioning coach for Tom Crean’s Indiana basketball program. Two of the top four picks in the most recent NBA Draft — No. 2 Victor Oladipo and No. 4 Cody Zeller — came out of Jackson’s weight room.

Brandon Blaney, Mangino’s recruiting coordinator, holds the title defensive assistant for the Jacksonville Jaguars of the NFL.

The combined record of Mangino and his last staff members — excluding Matsakis because he isn’t coaching on the field — this college football season is 38-12, a .760 winning percentage. The breakdown: Warinner (7-0), Mangino (7-1), Sims (7-1), Beaty (5-2), Miller (5-2), Reagan (5-2), Bowen (2-4).

Clearly, working for a difficult boss left former Mangino staffers well-prepared for future jobs.