Paul Rhoads knew he wanted to go outside the program to fill his offensive coordinator vacancy, and he knew he wanted Mark Mangino.
He just didn't know if Mangino — the national title-winning Oklahoma offensive coordinator in 2000 and former Kansas coach — wanted to uproot from Youngstown State, where he settled last season.
"I had no idea [if he'd be receptive]," Rhoads said Monday at a makeshift presser to announce Mangino's hiring. "Other than coaching against him, knowing through acquaintance, I didn't have any bond [with him]. I had no idea; I can say he was at the top of my list."
Mangino's contract will be for two years. The Cyclones also added running backs coach Louis Ayeni, 32 years of age, who'll step in as a recruiter in Houston and the Chicago area. Rhoads said there's one hire left to be made, to fill Bill Bleil's vacancy, and it's likely to be a quarterbacks coach to allow Mangino to narrow his focus to playcalling.
The inspired hire sent a ripple through Central Iowa and the Twittersphere. Iowa State managed little offensive success in 2013, finishing No. 97 in total yards while managing just 25 points a contest.
If anyone can help reverse those numbers, it's Mangino, who turned around a woeful Kansas program and captained the Jayhawks to an Orange Bowl championship. Led by Todd Reesing in 2007, Kansas won 12 games and finished second nationally in scoring (42.8), eighth in total offense (479.8) and scored 64 touchdowns to just 46 punts.
Mangino has background in the spread offense but will heed Rhoads' desires to be a strong-running team, including use of the pistol formation.
It also sounds like the Cyclones will do away with the "strong" and "quick" schemes of line coach Chris Klenakis (though we won't know that for sure until spring ball concludes).
"This will very much be a Mark Mangino-led offense. … "We're gonna hit you in the mouth, we're gonna run downfield, we're gonna continue to do that," Rhoads said. "At the same time we're gonna take advantage of space and get the ball to playmakers.
After announcing the firings of Courtney Messingham and Kenith Pope on Dec. 1 — sources also tell AllCyclones.com Bill Bleil was fired around that time — Rhoads reached out to Mangino to gauge his interest, then started on the sales pitch.
The length of the process agitated the fan base and also led to the decommitment of three-star running back Tommy Mister, who said he couldn't be solid to a school if he didn't know who his coach would be.
Rhoads stayed the course, though, and it paid off with a hire few saw coming.
"I sort of had a feeling [it would take a while]," Rhoads said. "I didn't think this would be a snap hire or a snap decision and it wasn't. I appreciate the process. It was great fun to sit down and do this and recruit [Mangino], so to speak."
As for Mister, he'll look to establish a relationship with Mangino and Ayeni before making any decisions.
Dual-threat quarterback Darius Lee-Campbell told AllCyclones.com on Monday he's thrilled to get to work with Mangino. Lee-Campbell's primary recruiter was Klenakis, and he remains partial to his pistol schemes, but is dedicated to improving his accuracy and becoming a pocket passer, if need be.
"His offenses have put up pretty good numbers so whatever he needs me to be is what I'll be," Lee-Campbell said. "I can stand in the pocket and deliver or use my feet."
Rhoads said nothing will change for offensive players who have committed to Iowa State or presently hold scholarship offers, despite the infusion of a new offensive coach with new schemes and preferences.
Mangino was fired from Kansas after the 2009 season amid allegations of player abuse and took a three-year hiatus as his wife successfully battled breast cancer. Rhoads said he did his due diligence and wasn't concerned with Mangino's tumultuous ending in Lawrence.