Assistant college football coaches shouldn’t drive automobiles to and from work. They should drive moving vans. Gypsies put down deeper roots.
Head coaches get fired or hired elsewhere and the assistants lose their jobs or go with them to the new town. Promotions cause moves as well. It’s part of the job description, which leads to an unwritten rule: Don’t fall in love with your current town.
That was a tough one for John Reagan, Mark Mangino’s offensive line coach for five seasons at Kansas University. Now in his third season as an assistant to Rice head coach David Bailiff and his second as offensive coordinator (plus running backs this season), Reagan became a well-known, well-liked member of the community during his time in Lawrence. Divorced, Reagan returns as often as he can to spend time with his son and daughter, who remain in Lawrence with their mother.
“It’s a great college town and we had the best five years in the history of KU football, and that was fun,” said Reagan, who returns on a business trip for this Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. kickoff.
Mangino hasn’t returned to coaching yet, but Reagan is just one of his former assistants thriving. The highest profiles: Ed Warinner, co-offensive coordinator/offensive line coach at Ohio State under Urban Meyer, and Bill Young, who left KU before Mangino’s ouster, coordinates Oklahoma State’s defense.
Reagan, who has the sort of strong personality that translates well to one day becoming a head coach, is a better offensive coordinator for having worked with Mangino and Warinner.
“Ed was really good at adapting his ideas to the things that were already there,” said Reagan, who was happy to read KU’s first crowd numbered 46,601. “And none of us could have learned anything without the work ethic coach Mangino put in there.”
Reagan already has a budding coaching tree of his own. He coached offensive linemen Ryan Cantrell and Adrian Mayes at KU and both are working for Rice as graduate assistants, as is former KU tight end A.J. Steward.
Rice is coming off a 4-8 2011 season and a 2012 Week 1 loss to UCLA, 49-24.
For a team so often outmanned, Rice did a nice job with ball security, turning it over just 19 times in 12 games in 2011, so the consistently favorable field position the KU defense supplied in Week 1 can’t be assumed in Week 2.
Reagan said junior dual-threat quarterback Taylor McHargue, benched midway through last season, has matured nicely.
“He’s not as savvy as Todd (Reesing) was, but in a lot of little ways, he reminds me of Todd,” Reagan said.
That’s high praise.