Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads introduced two new members of his coaching staff to the media on Monday afternoon. His new offensive coordinator, former Kansas head coach Mark Mangino, was a real headline grabber. In addition to that, Louis Ayeni is going from Toledo to Iowa State to coach the running backs.
Of course, we’ll have more on this developing story later tonight at CycloneFanatic.com.
Until then, here is the entire Q&A from Rhoads’ press conference on the matter.
“It’s been a great process to get to this day, albeit a little bit delayed with weather and travel and some things like that but in sharing my vision and our passion for the Cyclone football program and where we are heading. Seeing that catch fire with these two gentlemen has been a lot of fun to take in. I look forward to getting them on campus and introducing them to you and the rest of the Cyclone Nation.”
Q: What does this hire bring to your offensive staff?
PR:He brings 19 years of Big 8 and Big 12 experience, first of all. We should start with the offense but then I’ll get around with what he brings to the entire program also. This is a guy who has been a part of turnarounds at Kansas State. He was the play-caller for a national championship team at the University of Oklahoma. He took Kansas to unprecedented heights as the head coach and was very much involved with the offense at that program. He knows how to run it. He knows how to pass it. He knows how to take advantage of the personnel that he has in place. He shares my philosophy in regard to running the football, that it is going to remain a mainstay of what we do and at the same time, there are no percentages placed on 50-50 or 60-40 or whatever needs to be done to win football games. He gets that. I think that the invaluable experience that he brings as a head football coach, being a part of programs like Kansas and Kansas State in this league is exactly that. It’s invaluable. The insight that he brings in that regard to recruiting and running a program to develop things from within and I think it is great timing for that as well.
Q: When is he expected to arrive?
PR:We are hoping to have both of them on campus on Wednesday. Again, there is a good part of the nation that is shut down right now as far as travel is concerned. Hopefully that gets done.
Q: Will he be the quarterback’s coach as well? How will that work out?
PR: Have not settled on that yet. Louis will definitely be running backs coach and as we figure out the next spot, we will decide whether Mark coordinates from the tight ends spot or from the quarterback position.
Q: You said or the tight ends spot? Is Bill Bleil and Rhode Island official then?
PR:I don’t know, hiring wise at Rhode Island if it is official yet but yes, Bill is moving on to become the offensive coordinator at Rhode Island.
Q: Are you having any other staff changes between now and North Dakota State?
PR:I hope not. None that are coming from my end. GA’s are a part of this staff. Those guys will be moving on and I could have guys targeted more as we go along but I hope not.
Q: Paul, can you fill us in on the history of your relationship with Mark Mangino? How far back do you two go? When did you meet him? How well do you know him?
PR:Being a western PA guy, I got to know him when I was at Pitt through mutual acquaintances and so forth. Then, we spent the one year competing against each other as head football coaches in this league. Then, I reached out to him and started the process of courting him and trying to get him to take this position. That’s when getting to know him really started.
Q: Paul, you guys ran the Pistol last year. He was out of Kansas by the time that came around but at the time, he was more of a true spread guy. When you’ve talked with him about the offense beyond running the ball, what did you guys talk about, especially with the Pistol?
PR:We’ve talked about the ability to run the ball. The statements that he made that excite me are, ‘You’ve got to run the ball when people know you are going to run the ball.’ Whether if that is out of the Pistol of that is out of the side-back or a quarterback under center, we will figure that out and add to that as we develop a playbook. But you will see a back in the Pistol position. Whether you see it as much as you did last year will be determined.
Q: Can you tell us more about Louis Ayeni?
PR: Lou is really hungry, really aggressive and that personality won me over. Guys who really I really respect in the profession like Pat Fitzgerald and Bob Babich, the defensive coordinator at Jacksonville, are guys that really sang his praises – that personality that I got to see. His aggressiveness on the field. That passion, we need on the field coaching these guys. Right at the top of his list is his aggressiveness on the recruiting trail. It’s always a trait and a quality that you are looking for in every assistant but he brings that. We are going to put him down in the state of Texas, probably in the greater Houston area as well as Chicago, where he spent a lot of his college career playing and some of his professional career coaching at Northwestern, time with the Chicago Bears and so forth. That aggressive approach to recruiting, I will be anxious to get on the road here in a few weeks.
Q: Paul, obviously the end of Coach Mangino’s tenure at Kansas was marked by allegations of mistreating players and all kinds of stuff. It was kind of an ugly split there. What made you comfortable to give him a shot here?
PR:Because of the due diligence that I went through and investigating that and everything else that I wanted in an offensive coordinator and most importantly, a coach on this staff. As I speak of recruiting being very important, the thing that always is at the top of my list is somebody that cares about the welfare and well being of our student athletes. There wasn’t a player, an administrator, a coach, a colleague, that I talked to that had anything negative to say about Mark in that regard and how he was going to carry his integrity and the character of our program going forward.
Q: Who made the first contact here? Did you make it? Did he reach out to you?
PR: I made it.
Q: What was his reaction to you immediately?
PR:I think Mark was very happy at Youngstown State. He is home. It is where he grew up. It is where he graduated from. His wife had just fought through successfully a breast cancer battle. They were around her family and his family. He had gotten back in the game after taking some time off. Eric Wolford is a guy that he recruited and coached to help him out at this point in his career. I think he was having a lot of fun coaching at Youngstown State. I think the opportunity to jump back in the game at this level and in this league at the end really lit a fire under him and right now, those embers are glowing pretty strong and he is excited to get here.
Q: Were you surprised about Bill (Bleil)? I know that you guys have been together a long time.
PR:Long time. Three different stops and I think when you have been in his shoes before as a head football coach, as a play-caller and have that authority and ability to impact and affect a game more, you relish it. This is a chance for Bill to go be with another coach that he spent time with before and had been on the same staff. A guy that trusts him and get back to running an offense, running a staff and play-calling and so forth. He will do an outstanding job at it.
Q: What has been the personality of Mark Mangino led offenses in the past?
PR:Tough. Physical. Hard nosed. I think any coach that walks off of the field in defeat as well as victory, wants to know that about his teams. As he was building that at Kansas, it is one of the things that we talked about. From day one, people told him how tough his teams were and how hard they fought from beginning to end. I would like to believe that people look at our program that way. Now, we want to add to that toughness and work ethic and so forth. We are going to hit you in the mouth. We are going to continue to do that. We are going to be able to run downfield and at the same time, we are going to take advantage of space and take advantage of playmakers. As I went back took a look at the 2009 game film, one of the things that struck out to me was how easy they did some things. We can make the game more complicated than it needs to be and his offense executed with efficiency and ease and I liked that.
Q: How many years are on the contract with Mark?
Q: How big of a plus was it for you not only that he is a Big 12 guy but that he has won at northern Big 12 schools? Did that play into it at all?
PR:Not really. The weather is not going to bother him or be affected by that. I think he likes this opportunity to compete. He is a lot like me. He has been at spots where he has had to do more with less. I think that he really looks forward to doing that here at Iowa State like he has accomplished in the past.
Q: Will you be mixing his play calling with Chris Klenakis’ blocking schemes? Have you guys talked about that? The strong and the quick?
PR:They will sit down and start working through this but this will very much be a Mark Mangino led offense.
Q: How much do you think that the three years away has shaped where he is now?
PR:I think a good bit. I think that time of reflection and a chance to evaluate and observe some other things – he has traveled. He has seen a lot of things. I think he is at a very good point in his life because of those three years and where he is at right now. We will benefit from that.
Q: Cyclone fans always seem excited about everything but this seems like another one of those steps where people might really get excited to bring in a coach like this who has national recognition. Have you sensed that, even though it is early in the process?
PR:If you couldn’t hear my phone vibrating as we were talking yeah, there are a lot of folks that are very excited about it and for good reason. He is the first guy to win both national assistant coach of the year awards and head coach of the year awards. He did things at Kansas that haven’t been duplicated since and had never been done before. The turnaround is still in modern football a masterpiece. Anytime that you are calling plays for a national championship team, you know you’ve got something about you. Players play but coaches put it together and have a great knack of getting in the right play at the right time. He has done all of that so there is good reason that the Cyclone Nation should be thrilled and ecstatic.
Q: When you first reached out to Mark, did you think it would take this long to make the hire?
PR:I sort of had a feeling. I didn’t think this would be a snap hire and a snap decision for him and it wasn’t. That’s why I spoke, I appreciated the process. It was great fun to sit down and work through this and recruit him, so to speak.
Q: When you recruited him, did you have to give him space or did you put on a full court press in trying to get him?
PR: I don’t think it was either necessarily. It was just working through it. There wasn’t ever a time where I said, ‘I need to back off here,’ or, ‘I really need to try and beat somebody else.’ There was an introduction between the two of us and sharing with him what I wanted to take place and if we were going to sit down that first time and I was to say that, ‘This is what I want the offense to be,’ and he was going to have to match that to who he was, it would have been done right then. We had the initial meeting and introduction and then we just built it from there.
Q: How do the quarterbacks that you have coming back fit what Mark does?
PR:Right on. He knows how to run a quarterback through his time, especially with Bill (Snyder). But we are not going to be heavier with the quarterback run than anything else. He understands that creates and extra gap of being able to utilize that. The guys we have recruited can run the football. I don’t think Todd Reesing was anything spectacular from all of his physical exploits, but I think our guys have the tools that he had. Developing the mental understanding that needs to get accomplished and allowing them to apply those physical tools is the next step.
Q: Before you reached out, did you have a sense that he would be receptive to getting back into this?
PR:I had no idea. Other than coaching against him and being an acquaintance, I didn’t have a bond or it wasn’t like I picked up the phone and said, ‘Hey Mark.’ It started from that. I had no idea. I can say that he was at the top of my list.
Q: Did you know that you wanted to make an outside hire or would have been easier to stay in-house and just improve upon the system that you installed last year?
PR:I was looking outside. I thought it was time to bring some other experiences in and bring those to our kids and our program rather than build up from within.