Archive for Thursday, November 19, 2009

A sad story

It’s unlikely KU coach Mark Mangino’s reported actions would be drawing as much attention if he and his team hadn’t just lost five games.

November 19, 2009


The current firestorm surrounding Kansas University football coach Mark Mangino is a sad development: sad for Coach Mangino, sad for the university, sad for Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little and sad for members of the football team.

Whether it is based on a specific incident in which the coach supposedly expressed his displeasure with a player by poking him in the chest, whether it is the result of the football team losing its last five games when preseason and midseason hopes were so high, whether it is due to KU Athletic Director Lew Perkins’ perceived dislike of Mangino, whether it is the coach’s weight problem and image or his temper problems, or whether it is some other situation, it is a sad story. It should be noted that Perkins also has a volatile temper.

Most everyone agrees that if the team and coaches had been able to sustain their winning performances, it is unlikely the current mob mentality of lynching Mangino would have erupted, even if he did poke his finger in the chest of a player.

The truth of the matter is that hundreds, probably thousands of coaches have poked a player in the chest, grabbed a player’s face mask or violently shaken a player to show their anger and displeasure at a player’s performance or lack of attention and concentration.

Football, whether on the practice field, in the locker room or on game day, is not a delicate, mannerly, let’s-be-friends exercise. It is a contest of who can beat whom, focusing on physical and mental superiority.

The stakes are high at the major university level, with alumni enthusiasm, private fiscal giving, funding for other sports and expanded money-losing women’s sports, the egos of athletic directors, the public acceptance of chancellors and presidents and many other situations being affected by the performance of the school’s football and basketball teams.

Mangino now is looked upon as the villain in the eyes of many who are jumping on the bandwagon to have Perkins dump him as soon as possible. It is known Perkins is chafed that he cannot claim he hired Mangino or basketball coach Bill Self, particularly when Mangino was winning games.

Maybe it is time for Mangino to go. Maybe he has worn out his welcome. Maybe he has not engaged in as much fence-mending as he should. Regardless, he should get a fair trial. It’s interesting that an “unbiased” internal investigation called for by Perkins will be headed by a Perkins employee.

He has done many good things during his nine years as the football coach, and most of his current players, as well as past KU players believe he is a good coach.

Coaches — football and basketball — at major Division 1 NCAA schools make a lot of money, far more than faculty members and chancellors. In fact, salaries, incentives and bonuses have gotten out of hand. The coaches should realize that, to a degree, this inflated salary situation is linked to the risk of being fired if they don’t win enough games.

The truth of the matter is that Mangino is not a warm, fuzzy, friendly individual. He has a major temper problem, his team has just lost five games, he is a huge man, he may have poked a player in the chest and past actions have not reflected well on the university.

It’s a sad situation in that, directly or indirectly, this athletic department mess will be dumped on the desk of a new chancellor.


Richard Heckler 8 years, 7 months ago

If some are calling for the head of Mangino for making mistakes then it seems Lew Perkins must go.

Lew Perkins made the biggest mistake.... he hired Mangino.

Think how much the KU athletics could save if both had to go. Millions upon millions.

Bring all home games back home! Lawrence needs the tax revenue and the fun. Why give it to KCMO?

News_to_me 8 years, 7 months ago

It is indeed a sad story. What, perhaps, is even more sad is that, if it were you or I doing the poking or belittling players from inner city backgrounds or verbally abusing high school referees or parking department employees and generally feeling too important to abide by laws, it would have been dealt with much differently. Where do we draw the line when it comes to fund raising and ticket sales and Gridiron Clubs? And should that line be any different than for the public at large? Because, if it were you or I, we probably would've been taken away in handcuffs and charged with disorderly conduct. Sad as well, but true.

cato_the_elder 8 years, 7 months ago

Merrill, Coach Mangino was hired by Al Bohl.

monkeyhawk 8 years, 7 months ago

Coach Mangino - could you please poke merrill?

like_n_Lawrence 8 years, 7 months ago

"The stakes are high at the major university level, with alumni enthusiasm, private fiscal giving, funding for other sports and expanded money-losing women’s sports, the egos of...".... editorialists....

"money-losing women's sports"? Did this comment REALLY need to be in this editorial? Somehow that comment gets thrown in an otherwise sub-par editorial. I'm pretty sure your commander in chief has attended these money-losing women's sports, which, by the way, happen to be a great deal of fun to attend. I hope your daughters are proud of your choice of words.

As far as Mangino players are still kids....they should be able to still have fun at what they do...not dread doing what they love. If the team is happy, I'm happy. If the team is not happy, I am not happy. Winning is fun too.

mom_of_three 8 years, 7 months ago

I didn't think it was a coincidence that the investigation comes after a losing streak.

lawrencelifer59 8 years, 7 months ago

I'm personally tired of hearing how Mangino has brought KU football to new is nothing more than a higher level of mediocraty! KU is certainly better on the field than when Mangino arrived but there is no way that he has been as successful as his supporters contend.

One can't deny that 2007 was KU's greatest season ever but take away the wins over 1-AA teams (or whatever those lower division teams are called these days) from the last 8 seasons and I think you will find that Mangino's overall record is below .500...not to mention the horrendous conference record during his tenure.

I agree that all of this would probably be swept under the rug if the team was winning more this season but Perkins can't accept this mediocraty and do the job he was hired for. Mangino just isn't cutting it...certainly not as the 16th highest paid coach in the country...and should be fired if for no other reason.

jafs 8 years, 7 months ago


One adult physically assaulting another adult is illegal.

Phillbert 8 years, 7 months ago

What's really sad is that someone who thinks it is ok for an adult to make violent physical contact with a student also felt compelled to write an editorial condoning that behavior.

And Mr. Simons, I suggest you study the history of actual lynchings before you equate some media stories and message board posts to a "mob mentality of lynching Mangino."

Cityboy 8 years, 7 months ago

If poking a player in the chest is assault, then you better put all of the football players in the nation in handcuffs. Have you ever watched a football game? Can you honestly tell me that a knockout hit by a defender is not assault? Football is a violent game; would you expect practice to be any different? I agree that coaches need to set a good example, but getting poked in the chest by your coach is not grounds for firing or filing assault charges. "Some" of the KU football players need to grow a set! If changes need to be made, make them in the off season. You talk about a mess.

jaywalker 8 years, 7 months ago

Don't know what this is all due to, but I disagree this wouldn't be getting the same play if the 'Hawks weren't on a losing streak. These days such 'incidents' get humongous play, justified or not.

4getabouit 8 years, 7 months ago

It's a short walk from the mansion to the outhouse. This thing is a done deal.....Coach is history.

tbaker 8 years, 7 months ago

Victory has many fathers. Defeat is an orphan.

randysavage 8 years, 7 months ago

jafs (Anonymous) says… LN,

One adult physically assaulting another adult is illegal.

I'm not sure you are aware of this, but we are talking about football know, the sport in which "one adult physically assaults another adult" for 60 minutes each Saturday/Sunday....a few days a week at practice....even sometimes outside the Burge Union. Most of these dudes have been physically assaulting their peers (playing football) since their youth.

Get a grip, you and these patsies that call themselves a part of KU Football....

KawHawk 8 years, 7 months ago

Simple truth:

If any other KU employeee (or KU-affiliated unit, such as Endowment or Athletics) acted in the manner that Mangino has, they would have been severely disciplined or fired.

Can you imagine a prof assaulting a student like that ? Using derogatory and racist statements like that ? Verbally assaulting aParking Services kid ?


jafs 8 years, 7 months ago


I believe the word you're looking for is "pansies".

Also, I assume the difference between assault and a football game is that the players are giving their implicit consent to that sort of physical contest/contact.

If you want to justify abusive coaches, that's your business.

I'd rather not.

Gareth Skarka 8 years, 7 months ago

"It is a contest of who can beat whom, focusing on physical and mental superiority."

Yeah. "Mental Superiority." Sure. Why, just the other day, I heard somebody say "Boy, I wish I was as smart as a Football player...."

Ken Lassman 8 years, 7 months ago

Personally, I wonder if this editorial protesteth too much. If you look at the sum total of incidents that were discussed in the EXTENSIVE coverage of Manginogate, you gotta wonder if there has ever been a KU coach who wouldn't have been guilty of the same charges. I'm not enamored with Mangino's bedside manner any more than the next guy, but in the past, this level of grumblling would have been covered up by the Journal World, even if were a chronic problem, in my estimation.

So the question has to be: why now? I think Dolph tipped his hat in saying that Lew is not enamored with the big M, and my guess is that while Dolph is not real happy about it, he's following the marching orders of Mr. Lew by sending out his reporters to talk to every player they can find, while at the same time professing his ambivalence about the whole distasteful process in his editorial.

reality 8 years, 7 months ago

SERIOUSLY.... I'm not a Mangino fan by ANY stretch. I think he needs to be discliplined in what he eats if he is going to be talking to others about being disliplined in their life on or off the field...BUT>>> This, I am SURE, happened last year when bad plays were made also, and the ONLY reason anyone is complaining is because KU isn't winning! Good luck Mangino...politics are NEVER fair!! Look at major league football, this happens all the time...The players know they are not going to be stroked and have smoke blown up their backside...come on!!! They know when they try out that football is a tough sport and is known for these types of things! Those of you that think anything different need a REALITY CHECK!!!!

2002 8 years, 7 months ago

Terrible editorial! If KU was undefeated it would probably be a bigger story. Then we have the argument that Lew has a temper too? What proof do we have that he has done anything like Mangino? Has he berated a high school ref after his son's game? Has he verbally abused players and coaches on a regular basis so that it is the main part of his reputation? Have recruits been discouraged from attending KU because of Lew's temper? I could go on. Lew hasn't embarrassed KU, Mark Mangino has and until he is long gone that won't change. His incompetence to be KU coach has nothing to be with his weight, it is his lack of character.

average 8 years, 7 months ago

If KU wanted a nice guy coaching, we'd still have Terry Allen on the sidelines with some warm cookies for the guys.

Mangino had to have seen this coming better than anyone. Presumably he's been banking his bucks (doesn't seem to be a showboat spender) and he'll be fine. I'm sure Lew can get a coach for the bucks. Not sure he'll get a better one.

tryandkeepup 8 years, 7 months ago


What do you mean Dolph Simons is "following marching orders of Mr. Lew"? Do you read this newspaper? Do you remember the lengths to which the JW went to get information on "Mr. Lew's" total compensation package? The litigation? How angry "Mr. Lew" was? I don't believe Mr. Simons or his reporters take orders from Lew Perkins...much to the AD's displeasure.

tomatogrower 8 years, 7 months ago

I've not been there to witness just how rough Mangino is, but I know a lot of coaches yell at their teams, as a group and individually. I wonder if any of this is a sign of this generation. They are a part of the generation that has been stroked all their lives. You aren't supposed to give them even constructive criticism, let alone berate them in any way. Everything they do is wonderful, whether it is or not. I could be making generalizations, but these aren't kids, these are young men, and their parents are calling the school and complaining? When I was young that would have been embarrassing. My parents would have told me to suck it up, and I'm a woman. They would have definitely told a guy to suck it up. But, like I said, maybe he went too far. I couldn't pass judgement, since I don't have all the facts.

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