Kansas University football coach Mark Mangino was impressed with how quickly his staff bonded during its first offseason.
"It's been a very successful spring in terms of the staff meshing together," Mangino said. "We're starting to get a feel for each other."
The offensive coaches shouldn't feel bad if they lag behind in the camaraderie department. The Jayhawks' defensive coaches had quite a head start.
Defensive coordinator Bill Young worked with secondary coach Pat Henderson at Tulsa and Arizona State, and Young served on the same Southern Cal staff with linebackers coach Dave Doeren.
The old friends aren't shunning defensive ends coach Travis Jones, a holdover from former coach Terry Allen's staff.
"It's a lot of fun to come to work and be around the other coaches," said Young, 54. "Everybody has a tremendous amount of input. Hopefully, we can put four heads together and figure out what to do. A lot of that is attributed to coach Mangino. The people he chose there's not a lot of big egos on this staff. There's a lot of give and take and a lot of appreciation for the other person's problems.
"It's a nice situation. I've been in some other situations where it's been real strained and awkward, but here it's not."
KU's aides may have to rely on that friendship as they try to improve a defense that allowed an average of 36.1 points a game last season.
"We were last in the Big 12 in almost every category, so we have a tremendous row to hoe in front of us," said Young, a 32-year coaching veteran who has served as defensive coordinator at Tulsa (1982-84), Ohio State (1988-95), Oklahoma (1996-97) and Southern Cal (1998-2000). "We have some players that have really bought into what we are trying to do. It's made a big improvement, but we have a long way to go."
Young spent last season as defensive line coach with the Detroit Lions. He liked the NFL pay and benefits, but was eager to return to the college ranks.
"It was fun," he said of pro game. "I enjoyed it. It didn't seem like it was what I wanted to do."
The former Oklahoma State standout knew he would like Lawrence. In fact, he wanted to play for KU but wasn't recruited by the Jayhawks out of high school.
"I've always been really impressed with Lawrence and felt like the University of Kansas was a great place to be," he said.