DALLAS -- For many years, the presence of Mark Mangino on the sideline at a Big 12 game was a common occurence. Whether it be at Kansas State, Oklahoma or as head coach of Kansas, there was the portly offensive mind calling plays and yelling at officials.
His success was well documented. He won the Frank Broyles Award as the nation's top assistant when he guided Oklahoma's offense to a national title. He took Kansas -- yes, that Kansas -- to a BCS game and won it.
Then came the messy divorce from the Jayhawks that resulted in him being out of football for years. After a return as an assistant at Youngstown State last year, Mangino is finally returning to his roots in the Big 12 as offensive coordinator at Iowa State.
"I spent eight years in Pittsburgh, and Mark's a western PA guy. So we knew each other through mutual people that way and had a respect because of that," Cyclones head coach Paul Rhoads said Tuesday. "His proven track record as a play caller, as a tough guy, type of coach in what he could bring to our offensive mentality that way, but at the very top of the list was the simplicity with which his offenses have had success, and that was something that our program needed."
Mangino should have some weapons to work with in Ames. Tight end E.J. Bibbs -- whom Rhoads called one of the best in the country -- returns, and promising freshman wide receiver Allen Lazard will play early and often with fellow wideouts Quenton Bundrage and Aaron Wimberly.
Iowa State might be picked to finish closer to the bottom of the Big 12 than the top, but clearly the Cyclones' offense will hope for significant improvement with a veteran like Mangino running the show.
"We're going to be a spread system. It's a generic term, but we're going to deploy a lot of three-wide receiver sets and one-back offense," said Rhoads. "We're not going to huddle. Those are things that are familiar to the Iowa State fan base and Big 12 followers in what we do. The change I think you're going to see will be in the very pace that we utilize and also the simplicity of what it is that we're trying to accomplish."
With most of the Iowa State NFL Draft prospects on the offensive side of the ball, the creative playcalling Mangino brings to the table could bode well not only for the 2014 season but their possible professional futures as well if the past is any indication.
It's good to have "The Bear" back in the Big 12, and nowhere is it appreciated more than at Iowa State.