Mark Mangino’s persistent efforts to create an aura of martyrdom have included a number of dubious remarks. For me the ex-Kansas football coach sawed off a limb of verbal overkill when he fiercely cited one of his codes of conduct — better to die on your feet than exist on your knees.
Hell, Mark, this is college football, not Revelation and Armageddon — though it’s going to take KU a long, long time to overcome the embarrassing turmoil of late.
Pungent quotes appropriate for a given situation are worth pondering. Like Gen. Anthony McAuliffe’s “Nuts!” to the Germans at Bastogne; Oliver Perry’s “We have met the enemy and they are ours”; “Remember the Maine!”; “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes”; “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”; “We have not begun to fight”; “You may fire when ready, Gridley!”; Winston Churchill’s post-Dunkirk spine-tingler about fighting any Kraut invaders “on the beaches, in the streets, on the landing grounds, in the fields ... we shall NEVER surrender ... “
But the foregoing verbiage factored in major situations of crisis, not some non-essential football program that’s had its moments of abuse and mismanagement. Lordy, Mark, nobody sought to fatally knock you off your feet. Or force you to bow your head and crawl to the lavish football empire the school created on your behalf. KU’s never been THAT inhumane. Why try to embarrass it as such? You came off darn well.
Many questions about this donnybrook never will be answered, like the money involved, the hush-hush agreements about who did what and with which to whom. That’s best for the troubled Mangino, and for KU as it strives to heal image wounds and enjoy better days. Stuff will leak out, as always, but without official sanction. Let’s hope the witch hunt is ending.
It’s easy to see why Mangino coveted his high-profile status, his pay and benefits and his plush facilities. But even with all the pro and con talk, the ruptures in relationships around the athletic department and throughout the Jayhawk Nation, and the fact the new chancellor must preside over a massive program of repair, there never was the prospect that Mangino would have to bow down and grovel on his knees. At $2.3 million a year, KU was at least a lucrative torture chamber.
Bottom line, somebody on The Hill decided on the Larry the Cable Guy’s mandate: “Git ’er done.” The sooner the better. What happened as soon as it did is definitely better for both KU and Mangino.
Now, can KU next fall get good enough to beat Nebraska, Kansas State, Colorado, Iowa State and Missouri? All of them would be favored right now. Huge task for the new guy.
l The two-point football safety has not been kind to the Jayhawks against Missouri. There was the one that paved the way to the loss to Missouri Saturday. Up to then, the series’ most infamous two-pointer went against KU on Dec. 1, 1956, at MU. The score was tied 13-all and Kansas was deep, deep in its own territory, time running out. Confused coach Chuck Mather thought his team was on the 20-yard-line and called a clock-draining statue of liberty effort. Bobby Robinson was tackled in the end zone by Chuck Mehrer. You think the alumni groaned this year? Should’ve heard that uproar.
But there was at least one game when MU scored a safety and KU prevailed — a 7-2 Jayhawk victory in ’71.
Saturday’s 41-39 setback was horribly painful because so many terrific KU seniors had to choke it down. They deserved so much, much better.