Archive for Wednesday, December 5, 2001

KU hires right man to fix football woes

December 5, 2001

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OK, he'll never be the poster boy for Weight Watchers or TOPS or Jenny Craig or Metabolite, but know this about Mark Mangino: He's a good guy who also happens to be a good coach, and that's a rare combination in the jungle of NCAA Div. I-A football.

I've seen good coaches who weren't necessarily good guys. I've seen good guys who weren't really good coaches. And I've seen good guys who were good coaches, but not good enough.

If you stay around Kansas University for a long time, you'll see all types of football coaches because they come and they go. Short ones, tall ones, thin ones and now Mangino.

Is there any reason to think Mangino will succeed where others either failed or rode the infamous Kansas football roller coaster to the thrill of a bowl game and the agony of the pink slip?

In a word, yes. Mangino was, after all, part of the incredible Kansas State football turnaround as well as the transformation of Oklahoma from ordinary to national champion seemingly overnight.

If Mark Mangino can't turn the Kansas University football program into a winner, then nobody can because Mangino knows what it takes. He knows it takes total commitment.

Somehow KU chancellor Robert Hemenway and KU athletics director Al Bohl were able to convince Mangino, who originally balked, that Kansas was at last ready to make an unequivocal commitment to football the same kind of commitment Kansas State made more than a decade ago.

If Kansas was Nero fiddling, then Memorial Stadium was Rome in flames.

Now, however, Kansas University has adopted the approach KSU chancellor Jon Wefald boldly chose while Kansas State was the losingest school in major college football. Wefald threw money at the problem. Lots of money.

Not that Kansas did not spend money at football. It's just that most of the loot was spent on a long overdue renovation of Memorial Stadium and adding suites in a new press box. Cosmetic changes. Meanwhile, Kansas had the lowest-paid football coaching staff in the Big 12

No more, vowed Bohl, minutes after Mangino was announced as the Jayhawks' new head coach on Tuesday afternoon. Bohl said Mangino's compensation package could reach seven figures based on such incentives as season tickets, student attendance, wins, bowl games, grade point averages, graduates, etc.

Even without the incentives, Mangino's compensation package will be at least twice what predecessor Terry Allen was earning around $400,000.

Moreover, Mangino's aides won't be left out in the cold like Allen's were.

"I'm committed to a pool of about $1 million for assistant coaches," Bohl said. "You have to have good staffs and I'm aware what the going rate is in the Big 12."

Where did Bohl come up with the dollars? Well, the three time-honored methods for raising money are begging, borrowing and stealing. We can rule out the last means, so it's safe to say Bohl has done a some back-slapping, a bit of groveling and a lot of jaw-boning. For the most part, Bohl has told people who bleed crimson and blue that the time had arrived to bleed green as well.

With Kansas University the public laughingstock of Big 12 football Baylor is the private laughingstock the time had arrived to put up or shut up, and it appears the wallets and checkbooks came out.

Nowhere does money talk more than in NCAA Div. I-A football, where salaries and compensation packages seem bloated compared to the real world. But NCAA Div. I-A football and the Big 12 Conference, in particular, are not reality. They are entertainment. They are perception. KU could produce a dozen Rhodes Scholars and nobody would care as much as if the Jayhawks had earned a bowl berth.

If Mangino becomes a millionaire while coaching football at Kansas his success will make him deservedly revered. And perhaps his girth will make him a tourist attraction.

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