DALLAS — Iowa State center Tom Farniok recognized and respected one consideration immediately upon learnign the news that Mark Mangino had been hired as the Cyclones’ new offensive coordinator.
“Taking Kansas to an Orange Bowl victory,” Farniok said, “you have to be a smart guy.”
It was no intended shot at KU. Heck, the Cyclones haven’t been winning Orange Bowls, either. Maybe that was the point; perhaps now they, too, can dream big with Mangino calling the shots.
There’s a similar feel at Texas, where the Longhorns have won, just not to their lofty standards, mostly because of recent benign offenses. Enter Joe Wickline, whose arrival as coordinator and offensive line coach is restoring Texas-sized expectations.
For Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, Wickline and Mangino are familiar old faces in new places. And for the entire Big 12, they represent even more: a threat.
Both know the league, and each maintains a proven track record for knowing how to influence and even manipulate winning. In their fresh starts, the assumption would be that they are highly motivated, too.
Wickline’s influence at OSU was heavily noted, with offensive lines that could run or pass block equally well, causing one prominent league assistant to claim them the Big 12’s most versatile units year in and year out. The Cowboys regularly ranked among the league’s most balanced offenses and ranked in the top 20 in total offense six times in nine years.
Yet team sources say that time eroded relationships at OSU, leading Wickline to jump to Texas and new coach Charlie Strong, whom he worked with at Florida.
“Sometimes in coaching, you spend a lot of time in one place,” Cowboys coach Mike Gundy said Monday. “(Wickline) was with us for nine years and did a great job. At times, you just feel it’s best and time to move on and continue with your career.”
At Texas, Wickline takes over a line that has been dogged as underachieving, a root problem in the Longhorns’ struggles. Over the past four years, Texas has finished fourth, eighth, eighth and ninth in points scored in conference play.
“He’s a smart, smart man when it comes to football,” said Longhorns center Dominic Espinosa. “It’s been nice having that. He breaks down film really well, so we have lots to look forward to when it comes to breaking down game film and ready for game prep.
“I’m excited to have Wick on board. It’s going to be a good year with him.”
The situation is even more dire at Iowa State, where the Cyclones have regularly lagged offensively within the Big 12.
Last season, Iowa State finished eighth in the conference in total offense, averaging 354.8 yards a game. The seven teams ahead of ISU averaged at least 398 yards, and league-leader Baylor averaged 582.2. The Cyclones also ranked eighth in scoring at 24.3 points per game, pedestrian by Big 12 standards. Baylor scored 47.8, revealing a significant gap.
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