Mangino is returning to his alma mater three years after leaving Kansas. (Getty Images)
After three years out of the game, Mark Mangino is getting back in by returning to his roots, reprising his first college coaching job as an assistant at Youngstown State. The university, a longtime FCS power in northeast Ohio, confirmed the hire on Friday, naming Mangino assistant head coach, tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator.
Mangino, 56, grew up just 18 miles from Youngstown, in New Castle, Pa., earned a football scholarship at Youngstown State and returned in 1985 as a graduate assistant under then-head coach Jim Tressel. He's also reuniting with the Penguins' current head coach, Eric Wolford, who was a graduate assistant at Kansas State when Mangino was working under Bill Snyder in the 1990s.
"This is a homecoming for me," Mangino said in a statement. "Every coaching job I have ever taken was a rebuilding project, but this program is not rebuilding. … I am a big believer in Coach Wolford's 'no shortcuts' approach that focuses on getting results on and off the field. This school is near and dear to my heart, and I'll work very hard with Coach Wolford to get the job done."
At Kansas, Mangino was 50–48 in eight years, overseeing three winning seasons and four bowl games in his only stint as a head coach. His best season, 2007, was arguably the best in Kansas history, ending with an Orange Bowl victory over Virginia Tech and school records for both wins (12) and final ranking in the Associated Press Poll (seventh); for his part, Mangino was honored as the national coach of the year from no fewer than six major selectors. Altogether, he ranks second among KU coaches for career wins and is the only coach in more than 40 years to leave Lawrence with a winning record over his entire tenure.
Mangino was 50-48 at KU (USATSI)
When he did leave, though, in December 2009, it was under the cloud not only of a seven-game losing streak to close the 2009 season but also in the midst of a university investigation into allegations that he had routinely mistreated players, including instances of physical and emotional abuse.
According to one report at the time, Mangino allegedly told a player whose brother was recovering from a gunshot injury, "Don't yes sir me, or I will send you back to St. Louis so you can get shot with your homies." He was also accused of covering up players' injuries and sometimes resorted to "mocking their religion [and] pointing out a player's alcoholic father or terminally ill relative as a way to push the team's buttons."
Win-loss record notwithstanding, the combination of a) player complaints to the administration; b) a history of conflict with university staff; c) a series of embarrassing, on-campus altercations between members of the football and basketball teams; and d) the subsequent collapse on the field was more than enough to send Mangino packing -- although not before he'd negotiated a $3 million buyout to dissolve the remainder of his contract.
In the meantime, Mangino has been largely off the radar, save for a Twitter account where he awarded a weekly "Coach of the Week" during the 2012 season. He was briefly rumored to be in the mix for the head coaching vacancy at Colorado in November but later claimed (via Twitter) that he had asked for his name to be removed from consideration.