When Mark Mangino, a native of New Castle and a former Football Bowl Subdivision National Coach of the Year, arrived in Youngstown from his home in Naples, Fla., on Friday, he received a cold reminder.
“I thought, ‘Holy cow! It’s really chilly,’” Mangino said. “I remember riding my bicycle just the other morning, and the birds were singing, and the sky was nice and blue.”
Even so, Mangino said he doesn’t mind. If he did, he wouldn’t have accepted the position as Youngstown State University’s assistant head football coach.
“The weather doesn’t make a difference in my life. People do,” Mangino said during Friday’s press conference. “That’s why I’m here at Youngstown State. I care about the people here, … and I want to help this program get to the next level.”
Elevating football programs is something that Mangino has done for his entire coaching career.
A 1987 graduate of YSU, Mangino served on YSU’s staff for two seasons as an undergraduate in 1985 and 1986. He then had successful stints with Geneva College (1987 to 1989) and Kansas State University (1991 to 1998) as an assistant. In 1999, he joined the University of Oklahoma as the Sooners’ offensive coordinator.
In 2000, OU won the national title, and Mangino collected the Frank Broyles Award, which honors the top assistant coach in college football.
From there, he became the University of Kansas’ head coach — a position he held from 2002 to 2009. He turned around the school’s program, leading KU to a school-record 12 wins in 2007 and an Orange Bowl victory while collecting Coach of the Year honors.
“When I look back at coaching, Coach Mangino has been one of those guys that I think has done a tremendous job in his career,” said head football coach Eric Wolford. “When he became a head coach and what he did at Kansas, … I think he’s one of the guys that did the most with the most difficult situation.”
Wolford’s respect for Mangino stems from their longtime association. As an offensive lineman at KU, Wolford played for Mangino. He also coached with Mangino as a graduate assistant.
“He’s a genius offensive mind,” Wolford said. “I think it’s a big statement for our university and our program to get a guy like him to come here. He’s not going to tell you this, but he turned down other opportunities that were higher paying or coordinator-type titles.”
In addition to his appreciation for YSU, Mangino said he couldn’t pass on the opportunity to work closer to his family in New Castle. He added that he truly missed coaching.
“I’ve been in a lot of big games on big stages, and I’ve been around a lot of big-time players,” Mangino said. “Every day here, I want to draw on those experiences to help YSU.”
Also, Mangino said he looks forward to coaching with Wolford, one of his most respected players.
“I told Eric that I come to win, and Eric’s a winner,” he said. “Eric is one of the main reasons I came here because he has this program going in the right direction. He’s done it the right way.”
Mangino agreed to leave KU in 2009 due to allegations that he had a long history of harsh mistreatment toward his players.
During his introduction, Mangino sidestepped all questions about the allegations and had only good things to say about his time as a Jayhawk.
However, Wolford did address the issue.
“I know what kind of coach he is,” Wolford said. “Everything that happened is obviously allegations. … There’s always two sides to every story, and I think that’s something to always keep in mind. I would never put our program at any jeopardy.”
In addition to his assistant head coaching duties, Mangino will coach the tight ends and serve as the recruiting coordinator.
“I just want the fans to know that we’re going to play hard, and we’re going to win,” Mangino said. “This isn’t just a hobby for me. This is my life. This is what I do. When I put my signature on something, I want it to be good, and we’re going to be good.”