If this is the end, how will Mangino be remembered?


Saturday's conclusion to the Border War was a microcosm of the Kansas University football season in 2009.

Promising in the beginning. Horrifying in the end.

Kansas dropped its seventh straight game, 41-39, on Saturday against Missouri at Arrowhead Stadium. The Jayhawks, who began the season 5-0, finished the season a catastrophic 5-7.

No Big 12 North title. Hell, no bowl game. And more than likely, no coach, before too long.

If Saturday was Mark Mangino's last game coaching on the KU sidelines, here's guessing the 2009 Border War gets mentioned in casual Lawrence community sports conversation before the 2008 Orange Bowl.
Richard Gwin/Journal-World Photo

Mangino's image could have been partially saved had Kansas defeated Missouri. I'm not saying his job could have been saved. But let's be real: Beating Missouri would have gone a long way into winning over some KU fans that were on the fence about their embattled coach. That's just how the bitter rivalry goes.

Instead, I notice a KU fan base that's so fed up with Mangino's clock management that it just wants the coach gone already.

In a sense, I can't blame the livid KU fan. The Jayhawks had no reason to lose to Missouri, based on how the first three quarters played out. Had Kansas taken better care of the ball with 2:59 left, protecting a three-point lead, the outcome would have been different. I'm no offensive mastermind, but two consecutive passes — both of which fell incomplete — doesn't do a whole lot to drain the clock on a Missouri team that only had one timeout left.

Furthermore, a designed quarterback draw on third down that had Todd Reesing drop back as far as he did, as to flirt with a large portion of the end zone, was dangerous. The result: a Mizzou safety and a silver-platter formula to beat Kansas in the closing seconds with a field goal.
Nick Krug/Journal-World Photo

The Border War loss, coupled with the KU athletic department's investigation into Mangino's treatment of players, will be how the coach is remembered on a basic level. Whether that's right or not, I'm not entirely sure. But it's reality.

The 12-1 Orange Bowl season won't be remembered at the forefront of people's minds when they reflect on the Mangino era. Neither will the numerous football facility upgrades during his tenure. The first back-to-back bowl games in KU history. Mangino's coach of the year award. His unique ability to take two- and three-star recruits and turn them into above-average gems on the football field. Some even made the NFL.

In the dreaded depths of a seven-game losing streak, the negative will always outweigh the positive.

With a 50-48 record in eight seasons, Mangino missed being the winningest coach in KU history by two games. A.R. Kennedy holds that record with 52 victories from 1904-1910.

So, is Mangino the best coach in KU history?

As always, discuss.

KU's coaching timeline

  • E.M. Hopkins (1891): 7-0-1, .938
  • A.W. Shepard (1892-1893): 9-6, .600
  • Hector Cowan (1894-1896): 15-7-1, .674
  • Wylle G. Woodruff (1897-1898): 15-3, .833
  • Fielding H. Yost (1899): 10-0, 1.000
  • Charles Boynton (1900): 2-5-2, .333
  • John Outland (1901): 3-5-2, .400
  • Arthur Curtis (1902): 6-4, .600
  • Harrison S. Weeks (1903): 6-3, .667
  • A.R. Kennedy (1904-1910): 52-9-4, .831
  • Ralph W. Sherwin (1911): 4-2-2, .625
  • Arthur Mosse (1912-1913): 9-7, .563
  • H.M. Wheaton (1914): 5-2-1, .688
  • Herman Olcott (1915-1917): 16-7-1, .688
  • Jay Bond (1918): 2-2, .500
  • Leon McCarty (1919): 3-2-3, .563
  • Forrest G. Allen (1920): 5-2-1, .688
  • Potsy Clark (1921-1925): 16-17-6, .487
  • Franklin Cappon (1926-1927): 5-10-1, .344
  • Bill Hargiss (1928-1932): 22-18-2, .538
  • Ad Lindsey (1933-1938): 23-30-8, .443
  • Gwinn Henry (1939-1942): 9-27, .252
  • Henry Shenk (1943-1945): 11-16-3, .417
  • George Sauer (1946-1947): 15-3-3, .786
  • J.V. Sikes (1948-1953): 35-25, .583
  • Chuck Mather (1954-1957): 11-26-3, .313
  • Jack Mitchell (1958-1966): 44-42-5, .511
  • Pepper Rodgers (1967-1970): 20-22, .476
  • Don Fambrough (1971-1974): 19-25-1, .433
  • Bud Moore (1975-1978): 17-27-1, .389
  • Don Fambrough (1979-1982): 17-24-4, .422
  • Mike Gottfried (1983-1985): 15-18-1, .456
  • Bob Valesente (1986-1987): 4-17-1, .205
  • Glen Mason (1988-1996): 47-54-1, .466
  • Terry Allen (1997-2001): 20-33, .379
  • Mark Mangino (2002-present): 50-48, .510


milwaukeeJAYHAWK 10 years, 4 months ago

I'm a bit on the fence about Mangino, so I don't know what to think of him at the moment.

I bet, though, that people will have a mostly favorable opinion of Mangino when we get years down the road. Sure, he screwed up this season. Maybe he deserved to be fired, or lost his touch. But I know people will remember...

  1. Memorial stadium being filled up with excited fans like it hadn't been in a long time.
  2. Ending long losing streaks to KSU and NU. Also beating Mizzou a few times.
  3. 4 bowl appearances, 3 wins at them, and one being a BCS bowl
  4. Stadium and practice field renovations.
  5. Being ranked. That's so exciting for a KU football fan just seeing us in the top 25.

I think people tend to think of the good times when years and decades go by. When you compare the Mangino years to Terry Allen, or even Glen Mason, they look like pretty strong years. Having a 5-7 year sucks, of course. But we used to be worse than that long ago, and we were a few points from a 7-5 season (KSU, MU). So I think years from now people will see it as a typical down year where they ran out a coach that hadn't worn out his welcome yet. Fire a coach a year removed from back-to-back bowl wins? It's going to look knee-jerk down the road.

rastameta 10 years, 4 months ago

Actually, Mangino was about the same Glen Mason. The bowl structure was different in the Mason days and it was the Big 8 and NU was a power back then. Also, Mason played a slightly tougher non-conference schedule such as Michigan St. and Cal.

You can't really compare against different eras because it is much, much easier to win in today's college game then it was 20 years ago. The rules on scholarships and recruiting, the fact that we are now on TV all of the time, the increased bowls have all evened the playing field. Mangino had sooooo much more to work with then any coach before him.

Having said that, I think the was the right coach after the terrible hire of Terry Allen. However, he has shown coaching issues in very season. We were just more willing to put up with them in the process of turning the program around. We now expect more and the players deserver more. This team had enough good players to win a min of 9 games this year. The coaching staff let them down.

jlrpores 10 years, 4 months ago

I believe that KU should give some more time to Mangino as he has taken a program that was in horrible shape and brought it to respectibility. He recruiting has improved and I believe that he will get the program to the level that KU deserves. I know that we were disappointed this season but I respect him. I think that Mangino deserves to retain his position as head coach as KANSAS UNIVERSITY.

Maracas 10 years, 4 months ago

Mangino will be remembered for a while and then he'll become, over time, the answer to a trivia question regarding the Orange Bowl.

Nick Cole 10 years, 4 months ago

Giving Mangino more time would only allow him to take his winning percentage from above .500 to below .500 and set the program back even further than it has been already this year. If, as a fan of KU athletics, that is what you want to see, you are a moron (no offense). I'm sorry to say, but it's simply time to move on.

Look on the bright side, we probably won't have to do anymore mid-season defensive overhauls. The new coach(es) will likely be smart enough to figure all that out in the spring as it should be.

hirschtodd 10 years, 4 months ago

  1. For this program to move forward...we do indeed need a new coach.
  2. I am GREATFUL for everything that Mangino has done for this program.

All of you jumping on the Bash Mangino either had short memories or are way too young.

Terry Allen was atrocious. Nicest guy in the world. Met him on numerous occasions. Couldn't recruit...couldn't coach. Our program was DEAD.

While Glen Mason did indeed win...he wasn't exactly mr. nice guy either. His standard for recruiting in terms of quality of young men was extremely questionable. In fact some of the athletes we had under his regime were downright embarrasing young men. He just did a really nice job of hiding alot bad things that went on at the time that most people never heard about.

That being said...the building blocks are now here to snag a Big Name coach. Our facitlities are the best they have ever been, our fan base for football is the biggest its ever been, and we have a real solid team coming back next year.

We will now see if Lew Perkins can earn all his money and accolades.

Jonathan Allison 10 years, 4 months ago

I agree with Milwaukee. I think that Mangino will be remembered favorably. He resurrected a program that had been down for a long time. He took us to bowl games and we won bowl games. The Orange Bowl and Coach of the Year will always be his crowning achievement. Many fans don't credit him for that season and call it a fluke. Call it what you want, but it happened and so it has to be factored in. Mangino has a winning record as our head coach (barely) and he will be remembered as a winner. We set attendance records every year and there was actually a lot of excitement about KU Football even before the Orange Bowl year.

The year that we finished 6-6 and missed a bowl game, I remember thinking about how many close games that we should have won. Texas A&M, OSU, Baylor, Nebraska, Toledo. I was very optimistic about the future. Only thing I was worried about was whether or not Kerry Meier would ever learn how to through the fade pass. Turns out he didn't need to. One extra year of experience and one Todd Reesing made all the difference, but we were so close in 2006 to having the same kind of year we had in 2007.

mjhawkchalk 10 years, 4 months ago

I don't understand the Harry Potter joke with Mark Mangino, can anyone tell me the joke?

bayareajhawk 10 years, 4 months ago

I've been a KU football fan since the short-lived Bob Valesante era, when my parents took me to my first game at Memorial Stadium. In my 23 years of being a fan, KU has gone 121-152-2. Not exactly a record that sets the pulse racing. I can't really speak to anything that happened before Valesante since I didn't see it, but in my lifetime I think Mangino is the best we've had. He's clearly been better than Valesante and Allen, and I'd put him above Mason too --- if only because Mangino never pulled the "I'm going, no wait a second, I'm staying" routine right before a bowl game! Remember that? Just another in a long line of embarrassments associated with the KU football program.

I will always love and support the team, but they do test your patience sometimes, don't they?

Eric Schneider 10 years, 4 months ago

Can you tell what the priority has been at KU. 36 football coaches. In essentially the same time period we've had 8 basketball coaches. We've always been a basketball school.

As for the Mason/Mangino comparison. Mason got to two bowl games because those teams were too talented for him to completely screw up. Very few of his players respected him. Remember, this was the genius who pulled Mark Williams' redshirt to play UAB. A game we won 72-0. Because of that, we only got one season of the Big 8 Offensive Player of the Year.

Mangino created more excitement than any coach we've had in recent memory. On top of that, we didn't hear all of the discipline/legal problems that were a constant during the Mason years.

gamblinggringo 10 years, 4 months ago

I don't agree that the Orange Bowl won't be on the forefront of people's minds when they think of Mangino. After waiting my whole life for an Orange Bowl bid, Mangino winning that one will always be first and last on my mind when I think of The Man, The Myth, The Legend.

actorman 10 years, 4 months ago

Eric, thanks for bringing up the clock mismanagement that has been a staple of the Mangino years. I don't think that problem has been mentioned nearly enough -- not to mention the numerous other strange decisions he's made over the years.

I will remember many things about Mangino, positive and negative: the unbridled excitement from the Orange Bowl year, the incredible frustration from the countless close losses that didn't have to be losses, the seemingly remarkable foresight when it came to players switching positions, the aforementioned decisions that defied even the remotest form of logic, the tremendous increase in the quality of athlete being recruited, etc., etc. Sadly, I have a feeling that the thing that will stand out the most will be the last chapter, once the results of the investigation become public. Given what I have heard over the years, and the tidbits that have already come out, I think there will be a huge amount of ammunition to fire him with cause, and that will be the end.

I am confident, though, that with the first-rate facilities, rejuvenated fan base, talent returning, and of course Lew's skill and connections, we will get a coach that the KU fans can be proud of, both in terms of win-loss record and quality of character. I look forward to the day when this melodrama is over.

Kenneth Hillman 10 years, 4 months ago

Mangino did a ton for our program and I will remember him in a positive light. We need to make some changes in our coaching staff though and a new head man will bring new assistants with him. Here's to hoping the new hire will be a good one.

Bill Kackley 10 years, 4 months ago

I will always remember Mark Mangino with the thought that this is the man who took the worst football program in the big 12 and made them into a contender for the north title, won the Orange bowl and always blamed the losses on himself, never the kids. " I listened to his post game comments all the time and he would say there is a problem there ,it is fixable and It's the coach's job to fix it. Was he the best coach ever at KU, I don't know, but I do know he was one of the best and he is leaving the program in a hell of a lot better shape than he found it. My biggest concern besides what will happen with our team next year is will KU treat Mark Mangino fairly and pay him the money he is owed or will Lew cut him out of his money so it can go towards his stupid idea for the "Gridiron Club", which the huge majority of fans don't care about

Mike Barnhart 10 years, 4 months ago

20 years from now Mangino will be remembered as the fattest coach in KU history. No more, no less!

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