Iowa State offensive line coach Brandon Blaney is one of six new assistant coaches for the Cyclones in 2014. Blaney, who spent the last three years in the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars, is ready to get back into the college game.
Despite his brief absence from collegiate football, he has the luxury of a 10-year association with Iowa State offensive coordinator Mark Mangino to help him get back into the swing of Big 12 football.
Blaney and Mangino helped Oklahoma win a national title in 2000 as assistants. When Mangino was named head coach at Kansas in 2002, he asked Blaney to join his staff. The pair proceeded to resurrect the KU program, culminating with a 12-win 2007 season that ended with a share of the Big 12 North title and victory over No. 5 Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl.
Blaney was already convinced to join the Cyclones through head coach Paul Rhoads’ vision. The chance to reunite with Mangino was the icing on the cake.
“I left a good situation in Jacksonville,” Blaney said. “We had stability, a sense of direction as a football team and everything like that. Knowing that Coach Mangino was the offensive coordinator, it made Iowa State very attractive.”
Both Blaney and Mangino graduated from Youngstown State, but their relationship began at Oklahoma in 1999. As members of Bob Stoops’ initial staff, the duo were key cogs in the Sooners’ 2000 national championship team.
Reaching the pinnacle in collegiate football early on in his career is something Blaney will never forget.
“When you’re on a National Championship run or when you’re on a BCS Bowl run, you don’t really think about it,” Blaney said. “You don’t really think about anything except the next challenge at hand. It was always about getting better on a daily basis. Of course there’s a bit of euphoria with winning it all, but there is also this feeling of, ‘okay, time for the next challenge’ and at some point of time that hits you pretty quickly.”
It was in Blaney’s eight seasons at Kansas where he really got to know Mangino. He was a first-hand witness on how to turn a program around. He learned details like organization, accountability, consistency, persistence, passion and discipline, all traits of successful people and programs.
“Coach Mangino is very loyal,” Blaney said. “I think that is the biggest thing about him over all of these years is the amount of loyalty he has for the people who have played and worked for him. He is also very organized and he holds people accountable for all of their actions, both good and bad. People will also find out he’s got a pretty good sense of humor while doing it.”
Blaney’s prime concern right now is developing a relationship with his offensive line. It was unit nailed by injuries a year ago, as the Cyclones started a different offensive line combination in nine of the 12 games.
Despite the setback of injuries, ISU’s men in the trenches have experience and talent returning for 2014. With a total of 86 combined starts coming back, including All-Big 12 center and three-year starter Tom Farniok, the O-line could very possibly be a strength.
“I really feel the offensive line has a chance to be a special group,” Blaney said. “The part that really makes it truly exciting for me was on the first day I started work, and less than fifteen minutes of me physically being in the building, Tom Farniok walks into my office and introduces himself. We shut the door and had a conversation that lasted at least an hour. All of the other guys did the same thing after Tom. These guys are amazing in terms of their attitude and enthusiasm. They want to get better and I see a willingness to work, a willingness to be instructed, and a willingness to truly buy in, to not just me as a coach, but to the entire team moving forward. When you look at that combined with the athletic ability of these guys the possibilities are endless here.”