A few years ago the Mangenius faded away quietly following an investigation into allegations of abuse conducted by then Kansas Athletic Director Lew Perkins. The resignation was met with fairly mixed feelings by the Kansas fanbase with some viewing the move as essential given the damaging allegations and other viewing the investigation as a witch-hunt.
Whatever your opinion on the matter, the fact is that Turner Gill is now the head coach for the Kansas Jayhawks and Mark Mangino did by all appearances handle his exit with a quiet dignity. What Kansas fans have never had the opportunity to do is listen to Mark Mangino tell any part of the story or explain the experience in his own words.
That changed today when the New Castle News, Mangino's hometown news source, released the first words from straight from the former coach in an interview reflecting on his time at Kansas, his sudden departure and his plans for the future.
There are a handful of quotes from the article that standout. Quotes that honestly make you begin to feel sympathy for Mangino. It's not that the Kansas fanbase wished the former coach harm, in fact most were wishing him well, but at the time many were also very quick to side with Lew Perkins and that's something that I can't say would have ended the same way had things taken place a year or even six months later.
Mary Jane and I had decided that the right thing to do was to just walk away with our heads held high and not burn any bridges. I learned long ago that you're never going to win trying to defend yourself.
Mangino was criticized for a variety of things during his time at Kansas and even more so after his departure, but on some level you'd have to admit that his approach to a lot of things in life proved refreshing. Whether it was the explosion about the BCS money after Vince Young escaped Lawrence with a win, his week to week presser that always spoke complimentary of the opposing team and laid out the challenge at hand, or the above explanation. In a way he was someone who probably had to fight and scratch for things and that was reflected in his teams play.
At the same time he was unapologetic for much of what was alleged to have occurred. Some of that is probably justified, other allegations seemed on the extreme side. One incident brought up in the article is the Raimond Pendleton sideline rampage. Probably not a huge deal in the scheme of things, it's just a coach going on a tirade toward a player. But that footage is something that would be pointed to and often viewed as the proof of several less public verbal accusations.
"That should never even have been an issue. The converation was between me and the player. It is an unwritten rule in college football that video is fair game in the coaches' box, but audio is absolutely off limits. An ambitious young TV reporter from Topeka trying to make a name for himself stood in the end zone and put the audio on the coaches' box, without the knowledge of me or our university. He caught heck from our sports information department, but by then it already was out there."
Agree with the explanation?
And in that same fashion Mangino continues to speak fondly of what he accomplished at Kansas despite the way things ended.
"When I look back on my time at Kansas, I want to remember the positive, not dwell on the negative. I'm very proud of my time there."
It is interesting to note that his resignation agreement prevents him from talking specifics, but you wonder if he would dive into that anyway.
All in all it's a fairly simple yet interesting article. You can pretty much visualize the big guy sitting there saying EXACTLY the things you'd expect him to and choosing such a small outlet from his hometown seems to fit his style as well.
As for his future, he makes it clear that he'd like to get back on the sidelines and I'll be interested to see where that opportunity shows itself.
"I do have some criteria that would need to be met before I would get back into the game. I want to be in a football environment - in other words, I would only go to a place where football has a high level of importance. I don't want to go someplace where football is an afterthought or a hobby, that just would not work for me. I firmly believe that a successful college football program needs to be a good blend of athletic and academics. I would not work for an institution that settled for any less."
I wonder about that second sentence a little bit. Mangino did everything in his power to improve the place of Kansas football, especially with the 2007 Orange Bowl run, but do you think that was his perception of Kansas fans?
Whatever happened probably had to be done based on the public manner in which some fairly damaging allegations were put out there. Mangino did some incredible things for Kansas football, but now Turner Gill is the coach and as a fan that's where my loyalties lie. At the same time, this was a fairly simple but also interesting few words from the big guy himself and puts in perspective what he went through, how he continues to conduct himself and whether or not we'll see him again in the near future.