Archive for Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Perkins did it his way

A.D. driven by money, winning

Kansas University athletic director Lew Perkins stands on the sideline during the Jayhawks’ game against Texas on Nov. 21 in Austin, Texas.

Kansas University athletic director Lew Perkins stands on the sideline during the Jayhawks’ game against Texas on Nov. 21 in Austin, Texas.

December 9, 2009


Those shocked at the way athletic director Lew Perkins has handled the Kansas University football coaching change haven’t paid close attention to the way Perkins handles most things. In the end, what he does generally is far better received than how he does it.

Perkins is shopping for a football coach, and two factors make it probable he will end up with one who can enjoy more success than Mark Mangino did during his eight years at the helm.

First, the $2.3 million annual salary Mangino was awarded for the final phase of his leadership sent a message throughout the coaching fraternity that KU means business in upgrading its football program. Second, the $31 million Anderson Family football complex, built largely with generous pledges made by KU alumni Dana Anderson and Tom Kivisto, vaulted Kansas from the bottom of the pack to near the top in terms of facilities.

If those two improvements don’t result in a home-run hire, it will only be because Perkins swings and misses. With the help of John Hadl raising so much dough, Perkins has worked himself into a favorable home-run count. He’s not batting with two strikes the way Mangino was after getting his pay raise and the new facilities. Those improvements turned up the pressure on Mangino, whose lack of diplomacy (read: lack of phoniness) gave him less leeway than a less dictatorial type might have been granted.

Once the losing streak hit and Mangino looked bad during it — especially given the way he handled the Todd Reesing injury by not acknowledging it — those who didn’t like his fear-and-intimidation coaching style felt emboldened, complained to the A.D., and Lew, not averse to using fear and intimidation himself, was all ears.

Perkins authorized a meeting with the players, encouraging them to air their concerns about the coach’s abrasive style. Perkins didn’t leak the story, but by holding the meeting had to know it was going to go public. I told Perkins’ spokesman, associate athletic director Jim Marchiony, I had enough confirmation to break the story of the meeting with or without the cooperation of the athletic department. He gave me a say-nothing statement from Perkins that was only slightly more informative than “no comment.”

And then Perkins never had another word to say about the internal investigation conducted by his assistant, Lori Williams, until the night Mangino “resigned.” Once it became known Mangino was being investigated for his treatment of players, news hounds went in search of stories revealing how Mangino treated players. In some cases, the hounds didn’t have to search very hard. Former players volunteered stories.

During his two weeks walking the plank, Mangino reinvented himself from the intimidating tyrant to the coach who led with grandfatherly concern. At one point during the game at Texas, after receiver Johnathan Wilson was smoked on a play, Mangino approached Wilson and said, “Did you get the wind knocked out of yourself there, son?”

Mangino, a very intelligent man who is quick on his feet, conducted himself brilliantly at news conferences when asked about his situation. Without mentioning Perkins by name, he made it clear that he thought many of the questions he was being asked should be directed instead at the man not talking, and there was no disputing that point.

Once the investigation started, the question shifted from whether Mangino would coach Kansas in 2010 to when he would be fired and how much of the $6.6 million he had left on his contract he would get to keep.

Mangino declined Williams’ request to meet with her in the week leading up to the Missouri game, another thriller, this one lost by Kansas, 41-39.

Mangino made it to Thursday, a day that started with a report that KU had a 4 p.m. news conference scheduled. How did that story gain so much traction when it never happened? Here’s my guess: Perkins and/or his people told Mangino and/or his people that if they didn’t come to the table he was going to gather the media at 4 p.m. and tell them that Mangino was being fired with cause and he would tell the media why and try to keep every penny of the $6.6 million. The two sides then agreed on a buyout, agreed to keep the findings of The Williams Report confidential and agreed to call the end of the Mangino era a “resignation,” instead of the firing that it was.

Another guess: Perkins, or someone carrying out his order, contacted Joe Schad of ESPN to tell him the Mangino resignation was going down, and the evidence he could use to back that up was that the A.D. was meeting with the football players at 6:30. Perkins knew this would bring reporters to the parking lot outside the complex, where he could answer a few questions and make for his get-away car, thus removing the need for a news conference where he would have been grilled more intensely. He would have had to answer whether he felt the athletic department failed the football players through the years by not having greater oversight of Mangino and his coaching tactics. And he would have had to answer why he didn’t act upon complaints during winning seasons, as well as why he didn’t just fire Mangino without cause. The last one’s an easy one: Doing so would have caused different but pretty much equal unrest from the alumni and would have cost more because the coach would have gotten all $6.6 million. Wanting more wins was Perkins’ main motivation for making the move, and wanting to spare money drove how he made the move. Are we supposed to be shocked that Perkins is driven by winning and money?

Some perceive Perkins’ decision to use a spokesman to handle questions from the media as arrogance. In truth, it’s just the opposite. He lacks confidence in front of the cameras with good reason. He’s not very good at it. When asked why he felt the need to change football coaches, Perkins answered with the worst two-word combination he could have chosen: “Coach resigned.” Sure, that’s what the lawyers wanted him to say, but you just can’t say it and expect that not to hurt your credibility. You can’t say something you know that nobody is going to believe.

Perkins also ruffled some alumni feathers with the timing of the investigation and the perception that it was a witch hunt. As for the timing, it seems as if Perkins had limitations. Once he took the complaints from parents upstairs, the lawyers surely told him that he couldn’t sit on the investigation until the end of the season. After all, if a liberal-arts major complained about being mistreated by a professor, would that student be told to wait until the end of the semester for an investigation? Consider the liability issues.

Enough on how Perkins has done what he has done. Now look at what he has done. He has maneuvered himself into a position where he has a $2.3 million annual salary, probably more, and vastly improved facilities with which to shop for a new football coach. Perkins does his best work in the shadows, and that’s where football coaches are hired. His two football hires at UConn, Skip Holtz (now at East Carolina) and Randy Edsall, are highly regarded coaches who could be on the verge of upward moves.

Bottom line, ask yourself this question: If you had an annual salary of greater than $2 million and a new facility to offer a coach, would Mangino be on your short list? If the answer is no and you don’t mind the athletic department paying two football coaches, you have to like what Perkins has done, even if you don’t care for how he has done it.


TopJayhawk 8 years, 6 months ago

I will miss Mangino. But like the article said. For 2.3 million. You really do expect more.
Go Lew Go.

TLR 8 years, 6 months ago

Great article.

Sounds like Perkins understands the world of business and make no mistake about it, college sports is now a world of business. It no longer is the warm and fuzzy "all about the fans and student athletes" it once was. There's big money involved.

TCU had a full page ad in the "Houston Chronicle" yesterday congratulating their team but also selling the virutues of TCU.

When the Hawks continue to win on the field, the story will become, "Mangine who?"

Lee Eldridge 8 years, 6 months ago

I don't understand all the Lew haters out there.

Mangino took the program as far as he could take it. If KU wants to be a football school, and Lew has moved it in that direction (sell out crowds, tailgating, real money for the head coach, the Anderson complex...) then he's made all the right moves here.

killjoy 8 years, 6 months ago

When is he going to get the same investigation for his anger management problem? He is such an embarrassment to KU.

Kawatchi 8 years, 6 months ago

Lew's job is to generate money and wins. Why would you not want to find a coach that can do more of each? Mangino had some good moments as a coach, but he rarely was interested in doing the things off the field that help generate money and interest in KU football.

julienstockwell 8 years, 6 months ago

I am no English scholar, but why is "athletic director" not capitalized while "A.D." is? I'm just curious.

davidsmom 8 years, 6 months ago

Those of you who say KU should fire Lew so we can hire a good coach - how does that make any sense? How long do you think it would take to find a new AD first? How long do you think we should go without a football coach? There are plenty of opinions out there and fortunately yours may not be requested by University admin. on this situation.

tennishawk 8 years, 6 months ago

I very thought out article..I will miss MM also.I liked the exciting spread office ,,but it was half complete without a very good back.but did put up points with a healthy Reesing.

The stranglehold on Mangino was the terrible defense,a combination of lack of talent and coaching .It was this side of the ball that brought him down. Now for the new coach.I think Lew will bring in a guy who can bring the program up a notch.

Btw ,,,i wish the best for coach Mangino and his family.

tennishawk 8 years, 6 months ago

hitme,,i think you have already been hit too hard in the head for writing that article..jump back in bed and get some rest so you can think things a little clearer after your swelled head resides.

Jerry Collins 8 years, 6 months ago

Can't start out a new untested coach with $2M+. This is the Big 12. If you get a REAL coach give him the money, anyone else has to work his way up. Also, it was funny when Gruden's name came up- He sure want's to get involved with a program that does not allow you to raise your voice to the players.

moralebooster 8 years, 6 months ago

What proven coach would want to work for Lew Perkins. As mentioned, he's not exactly "football-friendly." Couple that with his anger management problem and we standing in a bigger hole to recruit from. We're already paying out a fortune between the Mangino's and the extra we need to spend to draw someone that can both recruit and coach. Let Drue Jennings have the ball; he hired Bill Self. Hit the road Lew.

onetime97 8 years, 6 months ago

It takes a real AD to know that you don't fire your coach without someone on the table already, especially if you are trying to retain recruits which no one can do at this point because KU doesn't have a head coach. (recruits don't like unknows...they want to know who is coach too likeus)

It took OU 9 days to hire Bob Stoops after firing John you think OU's AD "wished up on a star" and Bob Stoops fell out of the air?

C'mon...Perkins is WAC/MAC/CONFERENCE USA material at best!

yankeevet 8 years, 6 months ago

My only complaint is the wasted practice football field; which could be used for parking during the games. I hardly ever saw them use it; instead they used the regular field; to hide from the public during practices. Looking forward too the new football coach; and new players; go KU Jayhawks. I think the KU/Missouri game was great; KU fought hard. I think that was the best game all season.

Jim Williamson 8 years, 6 months ago

Folks who don't like Perkins say they understand college athletics is a business, but they really don't or they wouldn't dislike him so much. They just don't get it.

Find me a successful major corporation and I'll find you a CEO that the 90% of people think is an SOB.

DB Ashton 8 years, 6 months ago

Houses don't clean themselves. They need a house cleaner. Mr Perkins has delivered precisely what he was hired for, and more. It wasn't going to be pretty, nor gentle. Now, he will live or die with this next hire and I will be gobsmacked if he opts for Nolan Cromwell/Turner Gill "potential," over an experienced, proven winner with regional connections. (Although I wish KU had the luxury of giving Nolan a three-year shot.)

Ricky_Vaughn 8 years, 6 months ago

To all those bitching about "no more closed practices":

Get a life! You like beating dead horses? You think it really makes a difference?

Cry me a river, then build a bridge and get over it already.

John McArthur 8 years, 6 months ago

I don't think it is as important who we get as the new Head Coach as we need to pay-up and get the best Assistant Coaches we can and let them do their jobs. Assistant Coaches make the program. Just look at the old K-State teams, it wasn't Snyder who made them winners it was the Stoops and the other Assistants. When they left Synder had dog poop seasons his last three years.

Ricky_Vaughn 8 years, 6 months ago

KU's lack of talent is their biggest concern, not some spy watching their practices.

hesshawk 8 years, 6 months ago

Uncle Fester continues to lurk in the shadows because he is a sneaky, backstabbing SOB. How has he survived this long in Athletic Administration without being able to speak in public is beyond me. I do not condone what MM did. But I did have a real problem with the conducting of an alleged "unbiased investigation" headed up by an employee of KUAC, who ultimately answers to Uncle Fester. Looks like Charlie Strong is going to Louisville. The longer this is dragged out, the more these "up and coming" coaches are gonna get extended to keep them where they are now. Turner Gill No NO NOOOOOOOOOO

Rock Chalk

Mark Bowers 8 years, 6 months ago

What I find hard to understand from LP supporters is why they don't feel that the timing was completely horrible and distructive to the university? You all remind me of Republicans that blame the current administration for our over whelming deficit. If LP wouldn't have made it personal & handled it like a true busiman, than this could of happened now and our amazing basketball program would have probably over shadowed it a bit. Be honest, you either liked MM and don't appreciate the way LP handled it, or you're for the change because you blame everything on MM.

anon1958 8 years, 6 months ago

LP is not answerable to anyone. Thus he is free to make manifest the fact that he is a manipulative, greedy, two-faced, dishonest egomaniac.

People that claim he is a "good businessman" are spouting rubbish. A good businessman achieves business goals while conducting their business in a professional manner that brings respect not shame to their business. The Lew lovers can make the case that he is a successful businessman in the narrow context of raising money but their are many people who will remain sour on KUAC long after Lew has snatched up all the easy pickings and fled Kansas.

Anyone that supports Lew is obviously too dense to realize he insulted them when he said that Mangino quit of his own accord and that he didnt have anything to do with it. Even in the context of absurd statements regularly made by many KU mouthpieces, Lew's laughable hypocrisy is noteworthy as a fabulous insult to people. It is also indicative that Lew has started to believe some of his own arrogant spin as ground truth.

jonas_opines 8 years, 6 months ago

"If those two improvements don’t result in a home-run hire, it will only be because Perkins swings and misses. With the help of John Hadl raising so much dough, Perkins has worked himself into a favorable home-run count. He’s not batting with two strikes the way Mangino was after getting his pay raise and the new facilities."

What's with all of the baseball-related metaphors? Couldn't he think of any good football-related ones?

4everahawk 8 years, 6 months ago

With jobs being cut at KU and furloughs for some positions being put out there, does anyone ever wonder how many sons, daughters, girlfriends, boyfriends, wives, etc are being hired by athletics when no job vacancy was made public...seems it is becoming more a 'family' if you know what I mean....

Bruce Rist 8 years, 6 months ago

I hope everyone remembers that Coach Mangino left KU Football a Heck of a lot better than he found it. We should be grateful

ResQd 8 years, 6 months ago

Get over it, people. It was a business decision. Do you think that if KU basketball wasn't doing well, we'd still have Bill Self? I think not!

StrangerCreek 8 years, 6 months ago

For those of you who know the term, Mangino was a perfect example of the "Peter Principal"

4everahawk 8 years, 6 months ago

It's a good thing for coaches and staff that investigations aren't done into their private lives - half the staff would have to 'resign'. Good luck MM!

freighttrain221 8 years, 6 months ago

"What I find hard to understand from LP supporters is why they don't feel that the timing was completely horrible and distructive to the university?"

When an allegation of abuse is made there's an obligation to look into it immediately, rather than when it's convenient for the alleged abuser. If a teacher was doing inappropriate things with your son or daughter, would you prefer to wait until the end of the school year to have the matter looked into?

hammerhawk 8 years, 6 months ago

I have paid very close to this Perkins guy who stomped into Jayhawk country a few years ago and has wrecked havoc upon us. What turned me totally off the guy in the first place, was when he began his one-man attack on a downtown business man and through legal means wiped him out.
As an alum who was fairly successful after graduation, I donated quite often to the University. However, since the dastardly Perkins has arrived and strewn about his venom and ungentlemanly ways, I no longer give a dime to my alma mater. When Perkins perks his way out of our area, taking with him a sizable $$$ package I am sure, I probably will once again provide financial donations to my school. But then, I may not because of the lingering stench strewn about so carelessly by this so-called athletic director. Just who does he think he is anyway? Fire Perkins is the rallying cry from this quarter.

walkingonwater 8 years, 6 months ago

I have a different take than the two previous posts. I do not read the article as bashing Mangino. If anything, I get the impression that Keegan liked Mangino. Instead, I think Keegan is calling into question Lew's tactics. I find the tone of the article to be disappointment at the way Mangino was fired. I am interested in how others read this article.

Ms_P_Lane 8 years, 6 months ago

4everahawk, you’ve got a point about the family members of coaches and other athletics employees being hired on to the KU athletics payroll. I have also noticed the ever-growing trend that if a kid has a parent or other relative high enough on the KU corporate ladder, then after graduating from KU (or wherever), they are simply given (or should I say “gifted”) a job with KU athletics. This is quite interesting in light of all of the cuts to other KU programs…and a pretty nice graduation gift in light of today’s job market and economy, don’t ya think?

anon1958 8 years, 6 months ago

walkingonwater (Anonymous) says…

I am interested in how others read this article.

It is a pedestrian rehash of the last few weeks, not really all that slanted. The facts speak for themselves. Lew is a hypocrite, Mangino is a run of the mill football coach, big time college athletics are joke, the quest for money is the real goal of college athletics and university presidents and chancellors are spineless cowards that will endure any shameful behavior from powerful coaches and/or athletic directors. All of this banality is ultimately endorsed by and paid for by a narcissistic fan base that requires hourly doses of sports news and entertainment.

The same opera plays out several times per year around the country.

newmedia 8 years, 6 months ago

Just win Lew. Just win and eveything else takes care of itself...

Mixolydian 8 years, 6 months ago

I really don't get all the dumping on Lew Perkins.

Successful teams, higher ticket prices, that's just the way it is and we should be happy for it. I could readily afford a ticket to the KU-KSU football game when both teams were winless and they ended up in a tie in the early 80's. (The toilet bowl to end all toilet bowls, both teams 0-10-1.)

Don't listen to the know nothing whiners Lew, we love you.

4everahawk 8 years, 6 months ago

Ms P Lane: LP will be the first to tell staff that 'it is a privilege to work for athletics, not a right' but I guess it is his 'right' to create positions and then hire family and friends, then those people will consider it a 'privilege' to have a well paying job handed to them....

I just don't understand all the 'new' positions with so many cuts at KU. Sad, very sad situation for KU.

Haiku_Cuckoo 8 years, 6 months ago

Lew is the best thing that ever happened to KU. No other A.D. In the country can match his business skills or vision. He wants teams that win and top-notch facilities...and that's what we've been getting.

Randall Uhrich 8 years, 6 months ago

Say what you want about Mangino, but he's two wins from being tied for the winningest football coach in KU history. He's got image problems, and outperforming previous coaches wasn't all that hard, but he accomplished more than anyone else. One losing season and he's out on his butt.

Rickyonealku 8 years, 6 months ago

Kansas University Football can enjoy a 2010 season worse than the 2009 season was. Wins and losses that #80 or #10 or #1 or #5 or or or Mark Mangion.

petty5069 8 years, 6 months ago

Toe---"when will we start paying the athletes?" I think we are already...........they get an education, right? My daughter (at KU) isn't an athlete and she/we pay for her education. It might not be a cash paying job, but they aren't paying for their education either (unless they are a walkon or unscholarshiped player).

raw 8 years, 6 months ago

Those that believe the world turns because of money has their man in Lew Perkins. Those that believe KU support begins and ends with money respect and love Lew Perkins. Before Lew, retired faculty, widows and long term supporters were treated with respect, kindness and grace. I will wish Lew well on his way out the door.

Don Whiteley 8 years, 6 months ago

Let's face the facts: Perkins has brought KU sports into the limelight and on par with other major college programs. Like other Div. 1 NCAA schools, KU has dumped students and regular fans alike in favor of rich and corporate donors, KU has absolutely jumped up in both the football and basketball polls over the past 10 years while its academic programs have been on a progressive and continuous skid over the same period. Care to guess where the university's focus lies? Why in the world would you think about improving your Law, Journalism, or Engineering schools when donors like Dana Anderson and Tom Kivisto are willing to pour $31 million into making the Football stadium more cooshy for rich fans and athletes aspiring to multi-million dollar pro sports contracts? Hats off to KU; they made it to the big time in telling the ordinary student: "You don't matter"

Uhlrick_Hetfield_III 8 years, 6 months ago

Well, since once again the KU basketball game isn't on basic cable thanks to Lew Perkins I have the time to read yet more about what a jerk he is.

Jeff Kilgore 8 years, 6 months ago

I'm stupidfied at the amount of black/white right/wrong thinking on this board. I liked Mangino and I also like Perkins. What choice did Perkins have in the matter? If you were the parents of the kids that Mangino mistreated, would you ignore it? Not if you had one ounce of sense. Had he tried to sweep it under the rug, or keep it under wraps, then look how terrible the university would have looked. Have you thought of that, or are you just mad?

Yeah, Mangino brought our school some excitement, and I appreciate it. He leaves with millions and some never before reached heights. That's how I'll remember him. Those wins may or may not continue. But for those of you whiners who want to believe that KU or any university can let Grandma pay for retirement seat pricing in the day and age of modern athletics, then you are completely out of touch. I want a winner. I have a winner. KU, the only real winner in the entire Midwest. Let's keep it that way. Go Lew! Go KU!

unklemonkey 8 years, 6 months ago

Lew Perkins is the best thing that has ever happened to KU athletics.

jaywalker 8 years, 6 months ago

Jason Whitlock effect? Comeooooooooooon, LJW.

Markstaff 8 years, 6 months ago

Perkins did it his way. Not the right way. Imho.

jhokfan 8 years, 6 months ago

I’m surprised at the naiveté of so many seemingly intelligent people who think we should get rid of our AD. Fire Lew Perkins? Seriously? Why don’t we just eliminate the job description.

kenny_powers 8 years, 6 months ago

This man is a hack; he'll never make in the real world of professional sports. What this job needs is someone who's been there and knows what it takes to be a superstar, someone who knows how to treat the fans and live the life right. I'm ready for that call...of course, the price has to be right, I'm expensive, but I'm Kenny Powers. Peace,,,out

luck few

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