Thursday, September 24, 2009

Coaches know all about Kansas

By Patrick Magee

September 24, 2009

Saturday's trip to play No. 20 Kansas won't be anything new for Southern Miss coach Larry Fedora and some of his assistants.

The last time Fedora coached in Lawrence, Kan., he was an offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State, which beat the Jayhawks in a 42-32 shootout in 2006.

"They had a great atmosphere," Fedora said. "They're not just a basketball school anymore. Those guys can play football and they've done well and the fans support them."

Saturday's game has already been announced as a sellout at Memorial Stadium, making 10 sellouts in the last 12 games at the 50,071-capacity stadium.

The coach on the USM staff most familiar with the KU program is offensive coordinator Darrell Wyatt, who was on the Kansas staff from 1997-2000. He worked his way up to the same role he serves today at USM, offensive coordinator and associate head coach.

"I had a great experience there," he said. "My daughter was born there and I'm looking forward to going back in a strong way. We know they have a very good football team."

In seven years at Kansas, coach Mark Mangino has made significant improvement in a program that was mostly known for its struggles. The last two seasons have provided the first back-to-back eight-win seasons since 1908 and 1909.

"I think it's a credit to a commitment from the administration," Wyatt said. "Coach Mangino has a great staff and he's been building the program piece-by-piece. They've recruited talented athletes. They play very hard and they're a very disciplined football team. They spread you out on offense and play with their hair on fire."
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