After over a month of speculation the best kept secret in Ames was finally revealed on Monday: Mark Mangino is the new offensive coordinator at Iowa State. I'll spare you the details about his history as the Cyclones.com link above explains them better than I ever could, and most readers of this site know about his exploits at Kansas in the mid-2000s.
What I'm here to do today is to illustrate some of the highs and lows of Mangino's various tenures and what they mean for his tenure in Ames. Mangino is largely credited with being on the forefront of modern era spread option offense but that was over five years ago, and as anyone who has watched a game in the Big XII can attest, defenses have adapted.
Before we get too deep into Mangino's history let's take a step back and see what he's working with as he saunters on in to Ames.
Mangino is not walking into a kitchen with bare cupboards when he walks into the Bergstrom Football Complex this spring. The talent that Rhoads and company has accumulated on the offensive side of the ball is likely the best and deepest we have seen in Ames in nearly a decade.
Mangino is widely regarded as something of a quarterback whisperer and he's going to have two game tested quarterbacks at his disposal this fall. Grant Rohach finished last season on a high note by becoming the first Cyclone quarterback to go over 300 yards passing in back-to-back games since 2008, and his progression from the Oklahoma State game to the West Virginia game was noticeable. Sam Richardson is no slouch himself and one wonders how he would have performed had he remained even partially healthy this past fall. Mangino has always favored mobile quarterbacks in his schemes, and while Rohach is a passable runner he certainly does not have the wheels Richardson has.
The back field took a blow with the departures of Shontrelle Johnson, Jeff Woody, and James White but return Aaron Wimberly and DeVondrick Nealy. Both men fit the mold of prior Mangino backs that were good enough between the tackles and even better in space. Mangino's teams in the past were known for spreading the ball around, and that included working the running backs into the passing game. I have to imagine when Mangino gets a look at Wimberly in the spring he's going to immediately find a way to get the ball in his hands in a myriad of ways.
The wide receivers could very well be the group that sets this offense apart. Quenton Bundrage returns and Dondre Daley, P.J. Harris, and Tad Ecby will have another year to grow. Yet it's the arrival of D'Vario Montgomery (transfer) and Allen Lazard that should excite both Mangino and the fans. Both players are big bodied outside receivers that are even bigger than Dezmon Briscoe. Briscoe created match up problems for defenses and if one of these receivers can be paired with Bundrage there won't be a lot of coverages a defense can run to limit their explosiveness. Oh, and then there's E.J. Bibbs. Who might very well go down as the best tight end in school history with a big 2014.
All of this potential could disappear without a strong and healthy offensive line but once the starting combinations steadied late in the season the offense started to click. It will be interesting to see how Chris Klenakis' personality meshes with Mangino but I have a good feeling that both men bring a mindset of toughness that will rub off on everyone involved in the offense. As long as the linemen put on a solid 15-20 pounds this offseason this group could finally become the backbone that's been needed to take the offense to the next level.
Mangino and Oklahoma
Much publicity has been given to Mangino's time at Oklahoma (99-01). He served as the OL coach in 1999 before moving to OC in 2000. Mangino's first year in Norman saw him working under a name that's revered in these parts: Mike Leach. Once Leach moved on to take the head job at Texas Tech it was Mangino's time to shine, and he did.
Oklahoma went 13-0 (8-0) en route to a National Championship in 2000 and it was on the back of Mangino's offense that it happened. The Sooners averaged 37 points per game with two of their worst performances coming in the last part of the season. They never scored fewer than 12 points in a game and put up 63 on Texas in the Red River Shootout.
All of this done on the back of Josh Heupel, a man who was on his third school in four years and never had an amazing stat line until the 2000 season. Heupel hada 64.6% completion percentage, threw for over 3,600 yards and had 27 combined touchdowns on the season. Better yet, Quentin Griffin had 1,252 yards from scrimmage that season with over 1/3 coming from passes out of the backfield. The talent on this squad was likely better than anything you'll ever see in Ames, but the gulf isn't as great as it has been in the past or even now. Even with the big program name on the front of the jersey Mangino still found a way to win with a team not expected to contend for the conference championship, let alone the national one.
Mangino, Kansas, and S&P+
Mangino went to Kansas in 2002 and promptly lost his first game as a head coach to Seneca Wallace in Ames in a 45-3 drubbing to open the season. Those first few seasons were rough with the 2003 Tangerine Bowl appearance being the lone exception. It wasn't until the 2005 season where Mangino started to break through with the Jayhawks. Below are the national offensive S&P+ rankings for the Jayhawks from 2005 through the end of Mangino's tenure in 2009. Rankings courtesy of Football Outsiders.
|Year||Overall||Play Eff.||Std. Downs S&P+||Pass Downs S&P+||Rushing S&P+||Passing S&P+||Drive Eff.||DNP|
Green highlights are the high water marks for rankings during this tenure, and as you can see, Mangino's offense actually was more well rounded in 2008 and 2009 than in the breakout year of 2007. What carried that team in 2007 was their DNP ranking, which measures points scored vs points expected based on starting field position, and their defense. The #1 ranking in DNP confirmed something most of us remember: Kansas was the most explosive team in the country in 2007.
Here's what matters to me though: As Tood Reesing and company progressed in their careers at Kansas the offense got better. That's something you should see as players develop but that all but disappeared with Courtney Messingham at the helm. As Mangino's teams gained experienced they became more efficient in both their plays and drives and more successful on standard downs, which is necessary to stay on schedule and ahead of the sticks. Now contrast that to the offenses under Rhoads:
|Year||Overall||Play Eff.||Std. Downs S&P+||Pass Downs S&P+||Rushing S&P+||Passing S&P+||Drive Eff.||DNP|
That's right, the high water mark for Rhoads was 2009, which not coincidentally featured a senior laden group coming off a two win season looking for a chance at redemption. Things turned south after that with the ever revolving quarterback carousel and unbelievably did not hit rock bottom in 2013. As it stands the offense in 2010 was worst in most categories except the one that might have mattered most: drive efficiency.
As mentioned above, Mangino is walking into a well stocked cupboard, and may not put up eye popping stats in year one as players adjust, but has all the tools to make this offense a top 50 or better offense in the future.
Mangino, Kansas, and Kirk Haaland
No, our good friend Kirk Haaland isn't some magical mistress of Mr. Mangino, but Kirk is great at taking his own look at stats both on here and over at Encyclonepedia. Kirk threw together some stats using his own lens and provided them to us for your own enjoyment.
|Year||Team||Poss / Gm||Avg FP||% of Plays as Rush||Rush Yards / Att||Pass Yards / Att||Pass Rat||3rd Dwn Conv %||Yards / Point||% of Poss w/ TDs||% of Poss w/ TOs||Pts / Poss||Plays / Min|
A number of positive things jumped out at me here. First, behind a strong defense in 2007 the most explosive offense in college football possessed the ball nearly 15 times a game and then averaged what amounted to a field goal on every possession. You win a lot of games with stats like that.
Second, the Jayhawks didn't move at a plodding pace like their neighbors to the west, but they weren't interested in necessarily being Oregon either. By and large they averaged around 24 seconds per play during this three year stretch. There were times last year that all of us were frustrated that the tempo was too fast and just resulted in a 30 second three and out to put an already beat up and tired defense back on the field. While I expect Mangino to manipulate tempo at times I do not expect him to go fast for the sake of going fast.
There are some concerning stats here that conflict with what I wrote above regarding the S&P+ metrics. As the offense grew it became more dependent on the pass. Not only with a decline in percentage of plays as a rush, but also in rush yards per attempt. Conversely, the pass yards per attempt stayed relatively consistent, which tells us that the offense struggled to replace that production lost on the ground through the air.
What started as over a 4:1 TD to TO ratio per possession dropped to 2:1 by the time Mangino had left and the points per possession had dropped almost a full point from 2007 to 2009. Some of this can be placed on the hands of a defense incapable of stopping anyone and forcing the offense into difficult positions but a lot of it can be placed on just a simple lack of execution in Mangino's last season with the Jayhawks.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the biggest concern of mine: Ed Warriner, co-offensive coordinator at Ohio State with Tom Herman, was Mangino's offensive coordinator at Kansas from 2007 through 2009. Mangino's biggest success at Kansas coincided with the arrival of Warriner, Reesing, and Briscoe. That's a lot of eggs in one basket and gives me pause about how much of this was Mangino's doing and how much was Warriner's.
Logic says the answer lies somewhere in the middle but as much as I try to look at every angle in an analysis this fact bears mentioning. Mangino has obviously had success everywhere he has been and has learned from some of the greatest minds in college football, but it's hard to ignore the jump his team took on the offensive side of the ball as soon as Warriner set foot in Lawrence.
Then again, Messingham found ways to squeeze life out of this offense against some opponents. As it turns out Iowa State doesn't need Mangino to be the best offensive coordinator in the land. They just need him to be good enough to beat the teams they should beat, give them an honest shot to beat teams they shouldn't, and win the 50/50 games with teams like Texas Tech and Kansas State. If he's good enough for that then we're talking an offense good enough to win 7 or 8 games consistently in Ames.
And after this past season no one will bat an eye at that.