2009 KU-Texas football
Austin, Texas A kinder, gentler Mark Mangino watched from the sideline as his team was overwhelmed by Texas talent, 51-20, Saturday night in front of 101,357 witnesses who can’t give Lori Williams anything interesting for her investigative report.
Williams, hired as assistant athletic director/risk management in September and told early last week by AD Lew Perkins to conduct an investigation of the football coach after complaints about his allegedly abusive style, didn’t need anyone to tell her how the team performed. She watched the game from the visiting athletic director’s suite with Perkins and assistant athletic director Chris Howard. Her parents, who made the trip from Houston, had planned all season to join their daughter for the event and had no way of knowing then that the eyes of Kansas would be upon her.
Williams, a former NCAA enforcement official, has been gathering information from players and assistant coaches about Mangino, who if fired with cause gets no money, compared to roughly $6.6 million he would get if fired without cause. She presumably will interview Mangino as well.
Her investigation isn’t done, so Mangino’s status for next week’s season finale at Arrowhead Stadium is undetermined.
The Mangino a national television audience saw was not the coach who lit up Raimond Pendleton two years ago for diving into the end zone. The audience saw Mangino remove his headset, walk onto the field and help up injured running back Toben Opurum, who was walked to the sideline, left the game due to a leg injury and never returned.
Mangino, known as “The Bear” to his friends back home in New Castle, Pa., gave a Bear hug to punt returner Daymond Patterson when he came to the sideline after a big return.
The only time the largest crowd in Darrel K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium heard Mangino’s voice was when the referee came to the sideline to talk to Mangino and accidentally had left his microphone on.
“You’re a good man,” Mangino told him. Later in the game, Mangino patted the ref on the back after a brief conversation.
Up in the press box, a young reporter from Texas who had attended the KU coach’s postgame gathering with the media asked, “Is Mangino that nice all the time?”
Well, maybe not all the time.
An upbeat Mangino made it clear he’ll coach Kansas football until a couple of security guards carry boxes into his office and watch him pack.
Does he have any doubt he’ll coach Kansas on Saturday in Arrowhead Stadium against Missouri?
“None whatsoever,” Mangino said. “I’m ready to go. My players are ready to go, but you asked the wrong person that question.”
Perkins and Williams won’t field questions on the investigation until a conclusion has been reached, the lawyers make sure it’s legally airtight, and the trigger is pulled. Mangino hasn’t been handed the blindfold yet.
Meanwhile, fifth-year senior wide receiver Kerry Meier echoed Mangino’s sentiments about looking forward to Saturday.
“I just want to try to get coach Mangino a win against Missouri for all he’s done for me, my family and my teammates,” Meier said.