Iowa State football: Mark Mangino impressing players while improving image


Four years out of being a coach at the FBS level, Mark Mangino has to work himself back to the top of the food chain. He’s already off to a great start at Iowa State as the new offensive coordinator, impressing everybody around him.

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Controversy surrounded the impending hire of Mangino late last year. Back in 2009, the former Kansas head coach resigned amid accusations of verbally abusing his players. Some of his former players said that he made “insensitive, humiliating remarks“.

Despite a huge amount of support for Mangino by  other former and most current players at the time, the university probed the situation and eventually came to a settlement with him. Now with the tag of “abuse” next to his name, he couldn’t just waltz into another head coaching gig without questions.

Three years out of the game, Mangino returned to the sidelines as Youngstown State’s tight ends and assistant coach, the university he played football at, graduated from, and later was an assistant coach from 1985-87.

Nov 30, 2013; Morgantown, WV, USA; Iowa State Cyclones offensive linesman

Tom Farniok

(74) runs off the field after running back

Shontrelle Johnson

(21) touchdown in the fourth quarter of the game against West Virginia Mountaineers at Milan Puskar Stadium. The Iowa State Cyclones defeated West Virginia Mountaineers 52-44 in the third overtime. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Possibly sooner than expected, Iowa State gave the ladder to Mangino to climb back up into FBS relevance and hired him just one year after joining Youngstown State.

Since he’s ventured onto campus, Mangino has already won over the coaches, players, and a lot of the fans. Iowa State offensive lineman Tom Farniok didn’t know what to expect when the big guy arrived after all the stories he heard about Mangino in the past (via ESPN).

"“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.“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.”"

Tight end E.J. Bibbs hails the same praise, and is also excited that he’s specifically coaching his position.

"“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.”"

The Cyclones won an offensive mind that was able to make Jayhawks football relevant with the snap of his fingers.

Obviously, head coach Paul Rhoads wouldn’t make such a big gamble on Mangino if he didn’t believe the former Kansas head coach learned from his mutual dismissal. Maybe Mangino did cross the line at times; maybe it’s not as bad as what was said of him.

Either way, that’s all in the past now. If Mangino isn’t as hot-headed as he used to be, the Cyclones won an offensive mind that was able to make Jayhawks football relevant with the snap of his fingers. If anybody told me that Kansas and (the now dead to us) Missouri would ever be better than the football superpowers of the Big 12 in the same year, I would have directed them to the closest psychiatric ward.

Mangino won’t be a lifer, but he’ll get a chance to improve his image for future head coaching jobs. And at the same time, Iowa State could benefit with one of the best offenses in the Big 12.