Sunday’s news that the legendary Bill Snyder would be returning as head coach of the Kansas State football team didn’t come as too big a shock to Kansas University coach Mark Mangino.
That Snyder called it quits in the first place is what really caught Mangino off-guard.
“I’ll be honest with you, I was a lot more surprised when he retired than I was when I heard that he was coming back,” Mangino said during the weekly Big 12 coaches teleconference. “I saw Coach a couple weeks ago. He looks great, I think he still has a great passion for coaching, and I’m not surprised at all that he is coming back.”
Mangino spoke with Snyder during the weekend of the Kansas-Kansas State game earlier this month, but said he had no idea then that his former boss — Mangino served for eight years as an assistant under Snyder in Manhattan — was contemplating a comeback. At the time, then-coach Ron Prince had not yet been fired, and the conversation, Mangino said, only briefly touched on football.
“(We) talked about the old days, and he talked quite a bit about his grandchildren, and talked about my family, and it was just a pleasant conversation,” said Mangino. “K-State football and KU football did not enter the conversation very much, or at all.”
Snyder, by all accounts, will be returning to a game that has changed considerably in the three years he’s been away, as the emergence of the spread offense has taken over the conference and rival programs such as Missouri have developed into the Big 12 North’s major powers.
Asked whether these changes would be difficult for Snyder to catch up with, however, Mangino assured Snyder would be up for the challenge.
“Certainly, there’s been some coaching changes, there’s been some things that are a little different,” he said. “But I don’t think he’s looking at it like that. He’s focused on K-State and how he can make them better.”
Mangino not yet sold on keeping MU-KU game at Arrowhead: A week after Missouri coach Gary Pinkel gave a ringing endorsement for the annual Border Showdown to remain at Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium for the foreseeable future, Mangino wasn’t willing to go quite as far.
“I’ll say what I’ve been saying for several months,” said Mangino, whose team will take on the No. 12 Tigers on Saturday at Arrowhead. “After we play this game and have a chance to reflect on it, I’ll tell you what my thoughts are on it. I do want to play the game and have a chance to reflect on it, talk with our players and our staff. You know, I think it can be a very positive thing, but I want to save my thoughts until we play this game.”
The two-year agreement between the schools to play the game at Arrowhead is in its final season, and school officials are currently in discussions about whether to extend the deal past this season. A decision is expected to be made sometime this season.
Jayhawks trying to avoid third-straight defeat to MU: Although Kansas is in danger of dropping its third straight contest to rival Missouri this weekend, Mangino said Monday that it will take more than three straight losses — by either team — for this rivalry to lose its luster.
“We have beaten them consecutive times (going into a game), and I think the game still has a lot of merit,” Mangino said. “It’s still a game that anybody can win at any time. But I think you’d have to go longer than (three games) to really knock it out off kilter. And I don’t see that happening.”