December 03, 2009
Inevitably, the final curtain has descended on the sordid drama of the Mark Mangino era at Kansas tonight with his official resignation, thus ending one of the strangest, most abrupt exits in recent memory. Aside from the mutiny against John Mackovic at Arizona, no other major coach in ages has been effectively brought down by internal dissent from his own players. If the charges against his over-the-top outbursts, cruel and unusual punishments and Artie Lange approach to motivation are even in the realm of truth, obviously the guy had it coming. It's not often that players' immediate reaction upon hearing their coach has been forced out is relief.
The tough part for Mangino is that it took a month-long losing streak before the issues about his temper and all-around obnoxiousness were allowed to go public. In September, during the Jayhawks' 5-0 start, Mangino may still have been a jerk, but at least he was a jerk who got results -- the 11-1 Orange Bowl run in 2007 was the best season in school history, part of the best four-year run in Lawrence in 100 years before this season; he leaves just two wins shy of the school record.
Whatever his disposition, obviously the guy was doing something right. After five conference losses in a row, though, by mid-November, he was beginning to look more like just a jerk. The horror stories that poured in from every corner over the last three weeks were the kind of stuff that guarantees Mangino will be wandering the coaching wilderness for the next decade, if not the rest of his career.
Kansas probably is not going to hire someone who obviously exceeds Mangino's record on the field, because almost no coach in the Jayhawks' mostly depressing history has. But it couldn't go on with a guy who had obviously lost half his team, along with whatever recruiting cachet he had when going into players' homes. Whoever KU brings in, at least he'll be able to say "No, I don't routinely target my players' most personal vulnerabilities in a misguided effort at public shame."
Whatever Mangino actually said or did to put himself in the crossfire, when you can't say that anymore, you're done.