If you've been listening to Oklahoma City sports talk radio, you probably missed a lot of the controversy that erupted in Lawrence, Kansas, concerning Jayhawks' head coach Mark "Our Coach Can Eat Your Coach" Mangino. This past Monday, the Jayhawks' AD, Lew Perkins, announced an investigation of Mangino regarding inappropriate treatment of players, including physical and verbal intimidation. I guess he meant something more serious than this little pep talk he gave Raimond Pendleton a few seasons back:
The investigation is clearly an effort to end in Mangino's termination. However, it is a questionable call, at best, to say that Mangino is actually being fired for his behavior any more than he is being fired because he is fat. However, there is no doubt, this is not a happy man.
Let's start with why Mangino is really being fired.
Firing Mangino for behaving like a jackass is too easy. It's like firing Rick Pitino for having sex. KU is 5-5. You can tolerate a jackass when he's winning, but a 5-5 jackass is no value added. KU ignored Mangino's jack-assery when he was winning, but now it is suddenly cause for concern. If they can prove termination for cause, they don't have to buy out the last four years of his contract. Given the budgetary situation in the Jayhawk state, where they will soon start to pay state employees in surplus government cheese, getting rid of Mangino without a buyback is quite attractive. University administrators, including ADs, don't like physically-abusive or verbally-abusive people, but they tolerate it from winners, because they make the cash register ring.
So, the chancellor at KU is trying to handle the controversy in a civil fashion in monitoring the investigation by the AD. And Mangino, well, he went Mangino. This takes us back to Mangino's misery. A former Stoops assistant who coached the offense for the 2000 National Champions, KU's mountain-like coach is no stranger to such controversy, having dealt with allegations of abuse and intimidation as a high school coach 20 years ago in Pennsylvania, and he was also the subject of controversy for heaping abuse on Kansas high school refs officiating a game involving his son Tommy. When this controversy erupted, rather than being the big man, Mangino went on talk radio and attacked everyone.
Okay, so Mangino is a mean loud fat bully. This gets to the third point: why is anyone surprised? I mean, I am shocked, shocked to hear that a football coach engages in verbal abuse, physical confrontation, and general ass-holery in pursuit of driving his team. But I also find it hard to believe that someone couldn't get away from Mangino if he were coming at them. Get him worked up enough, he'll make about six steps, throw a piece of steak wedged in an artery and that's the whole ballgame. Then the crane can come to lower his piano crate coffin into a small tomb in Youngstown, Ohio.
It is a shame that Mangino has come to this. Once upon a time, I'd wager that Mark Mangino was a happy man. He won a national title here at OU and has a ring somewhere that doesn't fit on the proto-arm likes extensions that he calls "fingers". Mangino became a head coach, went undefeated, and has a family and a grandchild. But evidently he's still not a happy man. Kansas City columnists are speculating that the issue is his weight, estimated to be somewhere between 473 pounts and a Smart Car, and bloodpressure that cannot be measured with conventional technology.