You can see a number of Al Woolard’s tutorial traits in Kansas football coach Mark Mangino. Granted, Mangino owns a far more explosive temper, at least privately, than the lower-key Woolard, whose Lawrence High teams ruled Kansas in the 1950s and 1960s.
But this pair’s insistence on the pursuit of perfection is much the same.
Jerry Rogers and Max Rife, who worked as Woolard assistants at LHS, said Al would have a team run a play over and over until it “got it right.” Then he’d say, “OK, now let’s do it again the same way, only better.” Same for Mangino.
Woolard, at least outwardly, never took victories too emotionally, and dealt with defeats the same even-keel way. He was always seeking improvement, ever-fearful of regression due to unrealistic satisfaction in triumph. Mangino is noted for the same approach, calmly accepting wins while insisting on better performances by continuing to “saw wood” steadily and productively.
Take Wednesday night’s KU Insight Bowl victory against Minnesota. The late-game Mangino grins and player-congrats were quite noticeable via television. But Mark didn’t show any feverish reactions despite the fact his players and teams have accomplished numerous notable feats during the past two seasons.
Overriding Mangino’s obvious pleasure was his pronouncement that there still is a lot of wood for his program to saw and stack in the trophy bin. Like tackling a 2009 schedule that again includes powerhouses Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech from the Big 12 South. Mark won’t allow himself much bubbling over until his Jayhawks win the Big 12 North, the overall title, wind up in a major BCS bowl again and win there. Like undefeated.
The goals are clear, as was always the case with Woolard. The personnel and facilities are lined up for such, and now is the time to get everyone on board for the kind of perfection such achievements will demand. In other words, “Let’s do it all over again, only better.”
A comparable attitude was that of KU basketball assistant Joe Dooley in the very first minute after KU won the NCAA title last spring. With everyone else howling, grinning and jumping, Joe looked deadly serious. Asked why, he responded: “I’m just trying to figure out how we can do this again.”
That’s the way Mark Mangino surveys the immediate future with an eye to making 2009 a more inspiring year than the 8-5 of 2008. Lordy, Mark, you beat Kansas State and Missouri and bagged a bowl title. Not good enough, he’ll tell you. There’s a lot more kindling to be lacerated and he’s already got the chainsaw whirring.
Pardon a bit of personal delight about KU’s 2008 season and the feats of one of its more dedicated players, Jake Sharp.
Late last summer the media were falling all over themselves to glamorize and glorify newcomer Jocques Crawford and pronounce Angus Quigley as a major force. All the while, Jake, who had rushed for more than 800 yards for an Orange Bowl title team, was akin to a poor relative, “too small and not durable enough.” I intervened for Sharp; you should have seen the derision.
Nobody except Jake and his family could have enjoyed his Insight Bowl actions and touchdown more than I. Cream rises to the top; class most always will tell.