AMES — No sleight of hand.
When it comes to building a winning — and high-scoring — game plan, new Iowa State offensive coordinator Mark Mangino said Thursday he had “no secret formula.”
“I wish I did,” the former national coach of the year at Kansas told a Pete Taylor Media Room full of reporters at Hilton Coliseum. “If I did I’d probably be going around selling it out of the back of a pickup truck.”
Mangino doesn’t have to peddle any platitudes given the consistent potency of his past offenses.
He led Oklahoma’s offense on a 2000 title run.
His 2007 Orange Bowl-winning Kansas team averaged 42.8 points per game.
And the other new assistant who shared the stage with him Thursday — running backs coach Louis Ayeni — referred to him as “The Man-genious.”
“There’s a sense of something special about to be built here,” said Ayeni, who at age 32 becomes ISU’s youngest staff member.
That’s not solely because Mangino — who resigned at Kansas in 2009 amid controversy — will be running the offense.
Yes, the Cyclones went 3-9 in 2013 and struggled to score points until racking up 78 in season-closing wins over the Jayhawks and West Virginia.
But Mangino, who coached at his alma mater, Youngstown State, last season, said the elements are in place to ignite long-burning success on the scoreboard and the W-L ledger in Ames.
“Scrappy kids, competitive kids,” said Mangino, who helped his last four Kansas offenses average more than 400 yards per game. “There’s some talent there. The cupboard’s not bare. … This is more of a remodeling job, not rebuilding.”
Mangino spent three full seasons away from coaching and was able to be at his wife’s side as she successfully battled breast cancer.
“I say everything happens for a reason,” he said. “If I was putting in 14, 15, 16, 17 hours a day at that time, I don’t know if I would have done a good job, or if that would have been in her best interest.”
As for the circumstances surrounding Mangino’s departure from Kansas, where allegations of verbal abuse emerged from some former players …
“Whether it’s perception or reality you have to deal with it,” Mangino said. “I think you can always improve as a coach ,as a person. I’m big into that. You preach that to your players and you have to practice what you preach. … Overall, I’m proud of my work there. I stand behind it, without a doubt. We as coaches, there was never a situation where myself or anybody crossed the line.”
Now Mangino’s ready to be back on a Big 12 sideline.
It had to be the right place at the right time, he said, while noting that Rhoads recruited him well.“It had to be a place that football had a level of importance on campus,” Mangino said. “It had to be a place that cared about the academic interests of the players and it had to be a place where I believed that they were good people that cared about one another — that all pulled the line in the same direction, with no sidebar agendas. It was a bonus that it was in the Big 12, because I was familiar with it.”