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50 Days Until Kansas Football: Reflecting on Mark Mangino

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The big guy won 50 games in his tenure at Kansas, turning the Jayhawks from pushover to Orange Bowl champions.

Kansas Jayhawks v Oklahoma Sooners Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

“I’ve got a team to fight for. I’m not going to be pushed around, and I’m not going to let this university be pushed around, because we’re not the big BCS spender in the league. I’m not going to allow that.” - Mark Mangino, 11-13-2014, “Dollar Signs”

Mark Mangino came to KU in the 2002 season, his first win a 44-24 triumph over Southwest Missouri State (now Missouri State). The Jayhawks would only win one more time that year, but went bowling the very next year (2003) for the first time since 1995.

Year 3 was a bit of a struggle, as the Jayhawks lost early season heartbreakers to Northwestern (20-17), Texas Tech (31-30), and Nebraska (14-8). Three more close losses would come later in the season: Iowa State (13-7), Colorado (30-21), and Texas (27-23), the infamous Dollar Signs game.

But that Dollar Signs game turned out to be the turning point of the KU program under Mangino.

2005 saw a tenacious defense paired with an inconsistent offense, but it was good enough to win seven games, including the Fort Worth Bowl, KU’s first bowl win in 10 years.

2006 saw KU become bowl eligible at 6-6, but the Jayhawks were not selected for a bowl game. Kansas did not lose a regular season game by more than 10 points until the finale.

Then came 2007. Oh, 2007. You shall forever rule in my heart.

2008 saw eight more wins and gave us Reesing to Meier for all eternity.

2009 is the season of what ifs. KU won its first five games, but then something quite apparently torpedoed the team from the inside, and they dropped the final seven contests. Mangino was run out of town on formal allegations of “boorish and violent actions.”

In his 8 years, Mangino won more games than any Kansas coach since A.R. Kennedy, who’s final season in Lawrence was 1910. Fun Fact(s): Kennedy was 52-9-4 at KU from 1904-10, and forced out by a conference rule change requiring coaches to be full-time faculty members.

But back to Mark Mangino.

He finished “just” 50-48 in eight seasons at Kansas, but to put that in perspective, the Jayhawks have won just 15 times in the 10 years since then.

His teams scored 40 or more points 26 times in those eight years, including 8 times in 2007.

KU scored the most points ever on a Nebraska defense under Mangino.

Todd Reesing shattered the record book at Kansas under his tutelage.

HE WON THE FREAKING ORANGE BOWL, putting Kansas football on the cover of SI for the first time since... forever?

He led Kansas to its highest ever ranking in the AP Poll (#2).

Mangino won three bowl games at Kansas, the same number that KU had won in its entire history prior to his arrival.

And, he’s still the last Kansas football coach to win a game on the road.

I’m very proud of the success of the players and the way we did things at Kansas; I’ll stand behind that forever. - Mark Mangino, 11-9-2013, The Kansas City Star