Archive for Friday, November 20, 2009

Shades of Patton

November 20, 2009


College football isn’t war, but the situation now facing KU’s football coach is reminiscent of the trials of a famous World War II general.

As the debate swirls around the Mark Mangino matter — is he a good coach, did he mistreat some of his players, can he control his temper, and does he enjoy the support of his superiors (Kansas University Athletic Director Lew Perkins) — it reminds many older local residents of the firestorms that broke out over the behavior of famed World War II Gen. George Patton.

Patton was a tough warrior whose business was to win wars. He didn’t pull any punches in what he said. In one instance, he slapped a hospitalized American soldier. He also led his forces deep behind the lines of Hitler’s army.

Many in the media and a large share of the American public thought Patton should be severely disciplined. In the eyes of some, Patton was out of control and didn’t pay attention to commands of his superiors.

As noted above, his business was to win wars, to kill and destroy the enemy and not worry about his public image. He made no attempt to be a warm, kind, cuddly individual. He was a tough, demanding and successful leader in a deadly war.

In a way, Mangino is caught up in the same Catch 22. His business is to win football games, to train his players and to provide leadership and display the courage to lead his players into battle. He has made some mistakes, but the manner in which his superiors have timed his investigation, whether or not he’s guilty of wrongful acts, gives every indication some are out to destroy this coach and his career just as some tried to destroy Patton.

At this time, only one or two individuals at the university know the fate they have planned for Mangino, but they should remember major league football is indeed a war against highly paid, well-disciplined and well-equipped adversaries. Winning is the name of the game, regardless of what some may say.


Matthew Fowler 8 years, 6 months ago

Well said. The analogy you drew between Patton and Mangino was no doubt designed to inspire cackles, but I'll sidestep that for the moment.

The reality of the situation is that KU has, in a sense, outgrown Mangino. The university now has the football infrastructure in place to move forward. They've got a decent stadium, a new practice facility and conditioning complex, the gridiron club, boosters galore and a place to stash them (read: the new Oread hotel).

The economic question facing the KU athletic department powers-that-be is: why put up with Mangino's bullshlt when there are decent coaches out there--without clinical personality disorders-- to be found that would appreciate all the new toys and move the program forward?

This is the "long view" that most of the anonymous contributors who have been spouting off platitudes about "football-as-a-metaphor-for-life" don't have the capability of understanding.

By the way--your Patton/Mangino analogy completely leaves out the fact that a smart, level-headed general by the name of Eisenhower was pulling Patton's strings the whole way.

I guess that's what separates Supreme Allied Commanders from Generals of the Third Army.

Just sayin'.

Ricky_Vaughn 8 years, 6 months ago

Ah, but Patton was ultimately successful.

Ricky_Vaughn 8 years, 6 months ago

The distance between insanity and genius is success.

myvotecounts 8 years, 6 months ago

College football is sport, not war. Mangino is not defending our freedoms or coming to the aid of people and nations that are in harm's way. I'm offended by the analogy that a college football coach who has a propensity to engage in meanness and publicly embarrassing, unprofessional childish rants is somehow worthy of being compared to a military general. Patton may have had some of Mangino's negative characteristics, but that doesn't make Mangino worthy of being compared to any leader of our military. I'm pretty sure our military would not have Mangino today or at any other time in our history.

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