Rare is the staff where the offensive coordinator has a more accomplished resume - as a head coach - than the head coach himself. But after a season in which Iowa State finished eighth in a 10-team league in total offense, ninth in yards per play, and ninth in scoring, it's a necessary one.
Rhoads had what amounts to a line change on his staff last season with the exchange of six assistants. "That's a lot of change. That's a lot of transition," he said. Highlighting that list, unquestionably, is Mark Mangino. Mangino won the Broyles Award in 2000 for his efforts as Oklahoma's offensive coordinator in driving the Sooners to a national championship, and then earned national coach of the year accolades for taking Kansas to the Orange Bowl in 2007.
Mangino was the first coach in college football history to win both honors, and has since been joined by Gene Chizik, David Cutcliffe and Gus Malzahn.
Rhoads and Mangino both hail from western Pennsylvania, though they did not know each other personally until the interview process. "I coached against him in 2009, my first year as the head coach at Iowa State," Rhoads said," and then 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."
The look and feel of the 2014 offense should be similar to 2013, especially with playmakers Quenton Bundrage and Aaron Wimberly returning, but the functionality should be much cleaner this time around. "We're going to be a spread system. It's a generic term but we're going to deploy at lot of three wide reciever sets one back offense. We're not going to huddle. Those are familar," Rhoads said. "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. We're not smart enough in Ames and even though it has several nicknames that would indicate that, that we're going to go out and outsmart other coaches and other teams, we want to be simple where our kids can execute at a high rate of speed, and I think that's exactly what Mark brings to our offense."
Mangino was out of coaching in between his final season at Kansas and his one-year stint as Youngstown State's offensive coordinator last fall. In between that time, Mangino's wife Mary Jane battled cancer (which she has now beaten), which Rhoads believe has provided him with a different perspective.
"He was anxious to get back to this level," Rhoads said. "He and his wife Mary Jane had been through cancer. I think he gained a different perspective on the game, let them step back and get back to it at Youngstown State and get the taste for it. He wasn't going to just jump back in at any job. I think he saw the opportunity for success at our place. He liked the way that the program was being run. He knew that we're full of toughness from playing us in 2009 and talking to other people that had been playing us since then."