KU Star Says Mangino Got Bad Rap

We spoke to former Kansas wide receiver Kerry Meier, who shed light on Mark Mangino's style as a coach, his offensive mind and called him a "warm" person

Kerry Meier arrived at Kansas in 2005 as the No. 45 quarterback in his recruiting class — a 6-foot-2 guy who ran a 4.7 40-yard-dash — and left in 2009 after setting the school's records for career receptions, season receptions and receptions in one game.

Come again?

It took a visionary in Mark Mangino to look at Meier, a starting quarterback in 2006 turned 2007 backup, and see a future pass-catching star.

With Iowa State's announcement this week that Mangino would become the Cyclones' offensive coordinator, AllCyclones.com caught up with Meier, a fifth-round pick by the Falcons in 2010 who's now out of football.

AllCyclones: What do you think of Mark as a coach?

Meier: "Over the years my relationship with him as developed really deep. He's more of a friend now. As a coach, especially at the time I was at Kansas, it's your first time out of the house and you're kind of away from your father's wing.

"He was a guy that kept me in line. He held me and every one of my teammates to a high standard, which was important at that age [freshman in college]. I wasn't headed down the right path, but Coach Mangino did so many things to develop me as an athlete and a person.

"Reflecting and looking back on it, I always thought Coach Mangino developed me as an athlete to bring the best out of me as a football player. But it had a deeper meaning all along of developing a good citizen and a good person with great morals and an understanding of a bigger picture than football.

"I was very, very privileged to be under the watchful eye of Coach Mangino."

Q: On Thursday he called you the most unselfish of Jayhawks. I assume he's talking about your willingness to switch from QB to wide receiver? What trust did you have to have in that — you grew up playing quarterback and signed with the school as a quarterback?

Meier: "With a position change like that, obviously early on I was scratching my head about it. I had always been at the helm as a quarterback my entire football life. That's the only thing I knew. I thought I played well and did well to be in the position to play that position.

"But you understand there's no sport that has a bigger emphasis on team. I understood the smaller that I became, the bigger we were going to become as a Jayhawk football team. I fully bought into it. I'm fortunate things transpired as they did and I got an awesome opportunity to play football at the next level. It was a blessing in disguise; he closed one door but at the same time opened a bigger door with more potential. It was a big move and a big change to my career but it all unfolded as it did."

Q: You said you were scratching your head. As far as QB-to-WR transitions go, few are as successful as yours. What does that say about Mark's offensive mind, that he can look at you and see a future record-setting receiver?

Meier: "It's just kind of who he is. When it comes to offense he's very, very innovative and has a great imagination as far as developing schemes. He's been like that everywhere he's been and he'll continue to be that way. The beautiful thing about Mangino is he has a deep passion and what comes with that is his desire for his players' best interests. That goes a long way in football.

"Going to Iowa State, I know he's gonna demand the best out of his players. The fans should be very thankful to have him on board because there won't be a coach who works harder than him."

Q: The Cyclones have a group of quarterbacks — a four-man competition in the spring. Most of them are mobile guys. At Kansas, Todd Reesing was mobile in that he could move around in the pocket to buy himself more time. How does Mark's offense, the last time you saw it, translate to 2014, where we see a lot of read-option, lots of mobile quarterbacks?

Meier: "What Coach Mangino does well is he finds where the talent is and he fits the offense according to it. When things broke down in the pocket, that's where Todd Reesing thrived. He was at his best when he was doing improv. He'll bring a scheme and philosophy and they'll find their playmakers and their best offense to fit them.

Q: I was watching the Orange Bowl. He schooled a Virginia Tech defense with future NFL talent. You guys came out in a different formation or personnel scheme on like five consecutive plays, including a six-wide, three-lineman set. It wasn't usually that weird, but given 30 days to plan Mangino flexed his offensive mind, kind of showed off his ability to out-scheme. How is he special in that regard?

Meier: "I played there under Mangino my entire time but we had two different offensive coordinators. Two different offenses, one a traditional pro-style and the other more of a spread-type offense.

"What Coach Mangino did well between the two, he found the weapons and put them to use in various systems. I think the thing he did for me and the offense from a schematic process was he took schemes and philosophies that were complex and broke them down and made them simple. He stripped the fat away from everything and simplified stuff but it was still as effective.

"You sometimes look at schemes sometimes and it looks like rocket science. That's how things have evolved over the year. It's a complex sport but he makes it very simple, he does a wonderful job of that."

Q: Did he get a bad rap for how his time at Kansas ended, people branding him as verbally abusive?

Meier: "Absolutely. Coach Mangino had a huge influence on the success I had at KU. He took us to heights and levels we all imagined but never envisioned.

"In some eyes around Kansas and the nation they view Coach Mangino differently, but he's a warm person. He doesn't wager too much on what people say, he keeps a close group around him that knows what type of person he is, he keeps to his guns and goes about his business in the right way."

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