Tuesday, November 4, 2014

With fond memories in hand, former KU football coach Mark Mangino calls Saturday visit to Lawrence ‘a business trip’

Iowa State offensive coordinator Mark Mangino, center, looks on during Iowa State's annual spring football game, Saturday, April 12, 2014, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Iowa State offensive coordinator Mark Mangino, center, looks on during Iowa State's annual spring football game, Saturday, April 12, 2014, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)


It's been 1,817 days since Mark Mangino last coached a game inside Kansas University's Memorial Stadium, but the wait for his return is down to four.

Mangino, Iowa State's current offensive coordinator who won 50 games as KU's head coach from 2002-09, will return to the town where he became a fan favorite and the 2007 consensus national coach of the year on Saturday, when the Cyclones (2-6 overall, 0-5 Big 12) invade Lawrence for a showdown with the Jayhawks (2-6, 0-5).

While the game figures to stir up a variety of emotions for KU fans, former players and even a handful of coaches on both sides of the field Saturday — KU's Clint Bowen and John Reagan coached under Mangino at Kansas and ISU assistants Tommy Mangino and Brandon Blaney also were on his KU staff — Mangino on Tuesday night sounded much more focused on fixing the ails of the Cyclones than reminiscing about the glory days at Kansas.

“KU's a great place and (I) had a lot of fun there and met a lot of wonderful people,” Mangino said during a 12-minute conference call with Kansas media. “Many people from Lawrence and affiliated at one time or another with KU have text me, emailed me, Tweeted me and I sincerely appreciate that. But it's really a business trip. Maybe after the game I might feel differently but not going into it.”

Despite his focus being almost entirely on finding a way to solve the Kansas defense on Saturday, Mangino said the mere thought of coaching in a game with so many guys who once worked for him was a source of pride.

“I'm proud of all of them,” Mangino said. “They're all good individuals. They're all very good coaches. They're better human beings. I'm very proud of them. For about three hours or so Saturday, I'm not gonna be real fired up about a couple of those guys on the other side of the field, but after the game I will again. There's friendship and there's competition and we never get those mixed up.”

Asked specifically about his memories of Bowen, Mangino painted a picture that Jayhawk fans have come to know more closely during the past few weeks.

“Clint was a hard worker,” he said. “He cared deeply, he does care deeply about the program at Kansas and has a deep affection for the University of Kansas and he gave his best every day.”

It's been three or four years since Mangino was last in Lawrence. He said it was the spring of 2010 or 2011 and he and a buddy drove a van from Naples, Fla., to Lawrence to pick up some boxes of football files still stashed in his old garage that he needed to clear out before the sale of his home. The road trip included a stop in Manhattan to visit with Bill Snyder and a stop in Norman, Oklahoma, to meet up with OU coach Bob Stoops, but before he could get to either, Mangino and his boxes of files piled high in the back of the fan were stopped by a Kansas Highway Patrolman.

When the officer approached the driver's window, he looked in and said, “I think I know you.” Mangino shrugged it off and said, “Nah, you don't know me.” The officer responded with, “Yeah, you're coach Mangino,” and the former KU coach answered with, “Well, I'm hard to hide, huh?”

After a little conversation, the patrolman let Mangino go but not before asking him to clear the boxes out of the window. It was merely the latest in a long line of good memories Mangino has about his time in Kansas.

“Not only me, but assistant coaches, strength coaches, trainers and a whole bunch of football players worked incredibly hard to bring respectability to that program,” Mangino said of his 50-48 record in seven seasons at KU. “And I'm proud of all those people and proud to be associated with all of them.”

Mangino on KU linebacker Ben Heeney, whom he began to recruit before leaving KU:

"Ben Heeney is a fabulous football player. The guy's a tackling machine. He plays this game the way you're supposed to play it, with a great deal of intensity every snap. I've got a great deal of respect for the way he plays the game.”

Mangino on whether he still uses his "Keep Sawin' Wood" phrase:

“You bet. I live by that. It's not just a good motto. I have tried to live my life by that and it just means keep going. When things are good, keep the steady pace and when things are bad, keep a steady pace."

Mangino on getting back into the Big 12 and challenges at Iowa State:

“The way I feel about this situation here is, we're in a position where we need to win some games. We're sitting at 2-6 and, really, I'm more focused on getting our offense together and playing really well down there in Lawrence. That's always been my approach to games."

“In my 30 plus years of coaching, I have never experienced the amount of injuries we have had there this season, on both sides of the ball. It's staggering.”

“The challenges are not as great as you would think, at least from my perspective, because we have an incredibly hard-working bunch of kids that really care about how they play and about winning.”


Joe Ross 5 years, 5 months ago

Welcome back, Mark! Will be good to see you again...

Joe Ross 5 years, 5 months ago

I certainly hope for a win but I, unlike some others, will not have the poignance of the moment lost on me.

Joe Ross 5 years, 5 months ago

Ah. As if there was nothing sentimental, no emotion whatsoever outside of the game, when Kansas beat a Roy Williams-coached UNC squad. Well for many of us, that made the win extra sweet (though I admit I love RW). But underlying this reality is that there was something EXTRA sentimental about the game and, by extension, a guy devoted to beating our team. The same is true here. Nothing sentimental? Read the third paragraph of the article. First sentence. One of two things is definitely the case: either youre not being truthful about how you feel, or youre out of touch with what is going on around you.

Bryce Landon 5 years, 5 months ago

Those of you KU fans who want Mangino back on our sidelines, I understand why you think what you think, and I wouldn't trade the Mangino era of KU football for any other period in the history of KU football.

But before anyone starts petitioning Dr. Zenger to rehire Mangino, let's consider the following:

1) By KU standards, Mangino was successful here. A 50-48 record might get you fired in some places; here, a 50-48 record might have people wanting you to stay for life. But Mangino's success came in a Big 12 that (GASP) actually had 12 teams and was split into divisions. Most of Mangino's conference victories came against opponents in the Big 12 North. Mangino's record against Big 12 South opponents was woefully bad, with only four victories against South opponents, two of them against a Baylor program that, at the time, was the South's doormat. The Big 12 South was WAY stronger than the Big 12 North for most of Mangino's Kansas tenure. And because of the divisional setup, KU didn't play all six South opponents. The Big 12 has, of course, changed since his departure, with four departures - three of them former Big 12 North schools - and two additions for a 10-team conference that operates with a round-robin format that forces KU to play all conference opponents, including all former Big 12 South opponents (except A&M, which is now in the SEC). Given Mangino's lack of success against the former Big 12 South, could we reasonably expect him to get victories against those schools? Furthermore, Mangino's teams put up a 4-4 record against Kansas State, three of them against Ron Prince-coached teams, meaning Mangino was 1-4 against Bill Snyder. Mangino's teams often won just enough of the games they had to win or needed to win to get to the postseason. I doubt he would be successful in the Big 12 in its current configuration.


Bryce Landon 5 years, 5 months ago


2) Some of the stories about Mangino's abusiveness were blown out of proportion, but some were legitimate, such as burning a player's hand on the Astroturf and threatening to burn the other hand if he missed any more tackles. Or being abusing to campus police who gave him parking tickets. Or bullying his best assistant coaches and alienating them, eroding his ability to recruit any decent players capable of following the likes of Todd Reesing, Kerry Meier, Jake Sharp, etc. Could Mangino be counted on to be more respectful to the people he interacted with and not be needlessly harsh on his players? I'm not saying I want him to be a softie like Turner Gill or Terry Allen, but sometimes he did cross the line. Whether some of the things he said to his players were fireable offenses, I doubt that. Worthy of a reprimand or a reduction in salary, but not being forced to resign.

Bottom line is, I'm glad for what Mangino did while he was here at Kansas, I'm glad for four bowl games in six years, I'm glad that one of them was an Orange Bowl, I'm glad for ending 11 straight years of losing to KSU and 36 straight years of losing to Nebraska. But in the present state of the Big 12, I don't think bringing him back would be the right choice for Kansas; and if he can't treat people with more respect than he did, he would DEFINITELY be the wrong choice.

Titus Canby 5 years, 5 months ago

Bring back Fielding Yost. Now THAT was an unforgettable era.

Bryce Landon 5 years, 5 months ago

If we can dig him up from his grave and breathe the breath of life back into his nostrils, then by all means let's bring him back! :D

Aaron Paisley 5 years, 5 months ago

Some dude named Phog Allen went 5-2-1 as a head coach, he might not be bad option either.

Doug Cramer 5 years, 5 months ago

Welcome back Coach !

Wish you were coaching on our side of the field this Saturday.

I'm still pissed off at Perkins for what happened in 2009. This program deserved what it got since then...which is a dam disaster.

Glad you're doing well ! Keep sawin wood !

Bryce Landon 5 years, 5 months ago

You do realize that most of the players who ratted out Mangino are long gone, right? The seniors on this year's team were 11th graders when the Perkins-Mangino fiasco happened, to say nothing of the underclassmen. What the hell did they ever do to deserve any of this?

Doug Cramer 5 years, 5 months ago

Bryce - I'm not just talking about the players...although the players that disrespected him DID get a dose of what they deserved.

I'm talking about the administration, KU media (including this website), alumni, and fans that supported Mangino's what they deserved. Unfortunately, those of us that knew this was a bunch of horse crap has to deal with this disaster as well.

Whats even more nutty, it appears as though most who supported Perkins and that witch hunt, havn't learned a dam thing from this experience.

If ISU comes in and beats us in convincing fashion, which I think they will, then maybe that will be the catalyst that wakes people up, by realizing we made one of the biggest coaching mistakes in FBS history.

Bryce Landon 5 years, 5 months ago

I think we already know we've made one of the biggest coaching mistakes in FBS history regardless of what happens on Saturday. A grand total of 2 conference wins in the post-Mangino era along with back-to-back winless conference seasons is evidence enough of that.

Bryce Landon 5 years, 5 months ago

People still like to make fat jokes about Coach Mangino, like this guy on the Jim Rome Show:

Joe Ross 5 years, 5 months ago

How did you feel about Roy's wearing the Jayhawk emblem in 2008? Not only was Self trying to beat him, he actually accomplished it. In that same vein I suppose you would call Danny Manning the enemy if we played Wake. Or Larry Brown if we played SMU. They may be competitors, but they would never be enemies. You surprise me with the coarseness of your perspective. But then again maybe I shouldnt be. Some guys dont bother to stop and think about what theyre saying; evidently, its too much of an inconvenience.

Bryce Landon 5 years, 5 months ago

You sure about that? Mark Mangino helped Bill Snyder with his turnaround project at KSU and worked for Bob Stoops on OU's championship season in 2000. How is that not successful?

John Fitzgerald 5 years, 5 months ago

Let's hope the Karma of Lew Perkins firing Mangino is already gone. I couldn't handle losing to ISU. Don't care about losing to Mangino, just don't want to lose to the 2nd worst team in the Big 12.

Terry N Tom Denner 5 years, 5 months ago

Heads up Big 12 fans, rumor has it that the Big 12 will invite the following teams to the Big 12 Conference. Cinncy, South Florida, Central Florida, East Carolina. About time the Big 12 got back to or over the 10 team BS !!!

Terry N Tom Denner 5 years, 5 months ago

Bearcats to Big 12? - Down The Drive Oct 7, 2014 - There are whispers of a Big 12 expansion that would include the Bearcats. Since I am sure you are in the dumps from all the negativity around ..

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