Did Mangino Leave the Cupboard Bare?

With the bye week RC's normal preview will be waiting until next Tuesday so with that a little front page promo for Penguin. I think this brings up some interesting discussion myself and it's certainly an area with some widely varying opinions on reality. Thanks for the contribution Penguin.



I've posted a couple of things on this subject on threads recently, but I wanted to explain my position a little more in-depth...

Over the last couple of days, I'm not sure there's a cliche being thrown around Lawrence more than "the cupboard is bare" (ok, maybe that and "legalize it").  General perception of the football team right now is that Mangino simply left us nothing after Reesing, Meier, Sharp, Briscoe and Stuckey left.  Moreover, I'm routinely hearing that Mangino failed to capitalize on the team's success in '07 and '08, and couldn't use it  to land any solid recruits.  I get that.  We were good and now we suck, and we need someone to blame.

The problem is that this viewpoint ignores a couple of very important facts about recruiting.  One is that recruiting success typically trails on-field success by one to two full years' recruiting cycles.  To illustrate, we already had half our 2011 class orally committed before week one of this season.  That's how it works in modern football.  Our performance on the field in 2010 will have almost no effect on the 2011 recruiting class, since most of these kids have a pretty good idea of what they will do.  Sure, if we go 2-10 we may lose one or two commits, but by and large the recruiting class is what it is already, since recruits base their decision off far more than the weekly ups or downs of a team during their senior year.

Obviously, the 2008 recruiting class (this year's Juniors and redshirt Sophomores) was the same way.  The next year's talent we were pursuing (and had a chance at) didn't change based upon our record in 2007.  The kids it would have affected were the high school sophomores and juniors still in the recruiting process, and still narrowing down their prospective schools.  For them, seeing a 12-1 season would have a major impact, because their choices are still more open, and their opinions of the teams are still forming.

That's why recruiting experts caution fans to wait a class or two before expecting results from solid seasons on the field.  The swell in recruiting KU fans are looking for wouldn't be evident in our uperclassmen.  They were watching KU struggle for bowl eligibility during their recruiting process, and their talent level is about what you'd expect.

The problem we are seeing right now is that Mangino had a couple of inexplicably mediocre recruiting classes after several years of finding diamonds in the rough like Reesing, Meier, Briscoe, Stuckey, Talib, McClinton, etc.  What we're seeing in this team's juniors and seniors is the result of our recruiting success falling back to earth after several overachieving classes, not Mangino failing to capitalize on 2007.

The frustrating truth is, we don't yet know how Mangino did in using the Orange Bowl season to his advantage.  That will only be evident in the '09 and '10 classes.  If you want to judge him in that regard, you can't look at Capra, Wilson, Harris, Dudley, Barfield, the Johnsons, etc.  You have to look at Bradley McDougald, James Sims, Kevin Young, Keba Aghostino, Jordan Webb, DJ Beshears, Chris Omegie, Huldon Tharp, Toben Opurum, Keeston Terry, and a bunch of guys who haven't seen the field yet.  And the fact is we can't judge them yet because the sample size is too small.  Few players stand out in their freshman and sophomore years.

The furthest I'm willing to go on Mangino's post-'07 recruiting efforts is that he didn't land anyone who turned into an immediate impact player (although a case could be made for Huldon Tharp last year).  Beyond that, the jury still has to be out, unless you're willing to start judging every recruiting class based on their performance as freshmen.

Things are bad, but let's watch these classes mature before we write off the entire roster as a squandered opportunity.

I realize I'm on an island in feeling this way, so please discuss, criticize, mock, degrade, etc.  I'm interested to see if there's anyone out there who agrees with my perspective on this.