Tom Keegan: Mark Mangino explains why he accepted invitation to return to Memorial Stadium for season-opener

Kansas head coach David Beaty congratulates Iowa State offensive coordinator and former KU head coach Mark Mangino following the Cyclones' 38-13 win over the Jayhawks on Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015 at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa.

Whistles and hollered instructions could be heard in the background when I connected by phone this morning with former Kansas football coach Mark Mangino.

Mangino was in western Pennsylvania, watching the Neshannock High football practice led by head coach Fred Mozoccio, one of his former high school players.

“He was a tough, hard-nosed son of a gun,” Mangino said of Mozoccio. “Took what traditionally was one of the worst programs around and has them playing for championships.”

Sounds familiar.

Ten seasons after Kansas finished 12-1 and won the Orange Bowl, the Jayhawks will open the season by honoring head coach Mark Mangino and his players during the Sept. 2 season-opener against Southeast Missouri State.

Mangino said that when KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger and head football coach David Beaty, one of his former assistants, contacted him about coming back to be honored, he asked for some time to “mull it over" before giving them a response.

“It was not anything that I ever expected,” Mangino said. “It just came out of the blue and when they called, it caught me off guard. It was hard for me to say no when your players are going to be honored. I wanted to be there for them. I think it’s the right thing to do.”

During the weekend, cornerback Aqib Talib and left tackle Anthony Collins, first-team All-Americans in 2007, will go up on the KU Ring of Honor, their names permanently painted in big, white letters on the top ring of Memorial Stadium. The 2007 Jayhawks will go into the Kansas Athletics Hall of Fame as a team and Mangino, Collins and Talib will go in as individuals.

Credit Beaty, Mangino and Zenger with deftly handling a delicate situation to the satisfaction of all parties and to the benefit of a KU football fan base that has had so little to celebrate in the eight season’s since then athletic director Lew Perkins launched an in-season investigation into Mangino’s treatment of players and after the 2009 season negotiated a forced resignation with a $3 million buyout.

“Certainly, I didn’t like the way it ended,” Mangino said. “I’m not going to lie to you. But the way I was raised and the way I was taught by the coaches I worked for, you don’t dwell on the negative, you don’t carry grudges. Carrying grudges is hard work. It’s tough.”

Mangino said that “in a matter of days, I was moving on to a new chapter in my life. It was a lot tougher on my family than on me. I spent weeks counseling my family.”

The afflicted became the comforter. And he again slipped into comforting mode when a far more serious matter surfaced. Mangino delayed his return to coaching until after his wife, Mary Jane Mangino, recovered from breast cancer.

He spent one season as tight ends coach at Youngstown State, and one-and-a-half seasons as offensive coordinator at Iowa State, fired by head coach Paul Rhoads in midseason of 2015.

Mangino’s only appearance at Memorial Stadium since his forced resignation came Nov. 8, 2014, when the Iowa State team for which he worked lost to a Kansas team headed by interim head coach Clint Bowen, 34-14.

This will be different. He will be a guest of honor this time.

“Sometimes, when bad things happen, it’s how you react that matters,” Mangino said. “I was asked to come back, and I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t support my players and be with them. I lectured them for eight years about how you handle adversity. I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t come back to support them. It would mean I didn’t believe what I was saying. I believed everything I told my kids.”

Kansas went 50-48 in eight seasons under Mangino and is 14-70 in the eight seasons since. In his final two seasons, the average attendance at Memorial Stadium was 50,907 (2008) and 50,581 (2007). Attendance has dropped every season since and was 25,828 last season.

“Another reason I decided to come back is we had such a loyal fan base at Kansas,” Mangino said. “People were filling the stadium, tailgating. They supported the team really well. The core fan base for KU football was awesome. This is just a way of showing my gratitude for their support.”

Comments

John Fitzgerald

Time to bury the hatchet. Also....17 days to GAMEDAY! RCJH!

1 month, 1 week ago

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Brett McCabe

Let the healing begin. Smart move by all involved.

1 month, 1 week ago

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Brian Wilson

Mangino is great! Lew stinks!

1 month, 1 week ago

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Linda Trotter

Such an honorable thing Coach Mangino is doing in order to honor the team but their success is a reflection on him and his coaching staff, two of them current coaches. RCJH

1 month, 1 week ago

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Bob Hiller

from the article: ".....the way I was raised and the way I was taught by the coaches I worked for, you don’t dwell on the negative, you don’t carry grudges. Carrying grudges is hard work. It’s tough.”
Great stuff here. Good advice...for everyone.... go Jayhawks !

1 month, 1 week ago

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Karen Mansfield-Stewart

Love it! You're my boy, Blue!

1 month, 1 week ago

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Brett McCabe

That reference made me laugh out loud.

1 month, 1 week ago

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Randy Bombardier

Awesome. Kudos to all involved. Time to get over the Lew Lew of a mistake, or the hullabaLEW of an investigation. I know, I know, that was quite a Zenger. This comes out when I'm joyful.

1 month, 1 week ago

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Mike Greer

I've lived in Oklahoma the past 27 years, there have only been a couple of seasons when I felt it was safe to come out of the closet as a KU football fan, once in the 90's when my daughter was at KU and they beat OU and that great season where they won the Orange Bowl. Now basketball season, it's a whole new ballgame! Rock Chalk! Glad to see Coach Mangino back in Memorial.

1 month, 1 week ago

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Brad Avery

Say what you will about Mark Mangino, but he made KU a legitimate power in the Big 12, if only for a short time. I frankly wasn't really that excited about watching SE Missouri State, but I am now going to the game because of the respect I have for what Mangino accomplished. Smart move on the part of Beaty and Zenger.

1 month, 1 week ago

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Richie Wilson

Brad Avery," he made KU a legitimate power in the Big 12". You do know he was 23-41 in Big 12 Play.

1 month, 1 week ago

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Gerry Butler

And, And, And how a legitimate power are we now in the Big 12 there Richie? We were a hell of a lot more legit in the big 12 then - -then we are at the present. - -Mark won more then a game a year, played tough games. - -50-48 while he was here 14-70 since he was forced out - -let me say it again 14-70 - -14-70 are you letting that sink in Richie? Attendance was 50907 & 50,581 we actually look like a fan base on game days --now 25,828 - -pretty close huh? - -the fans now look like on Saturday they are attending a glorified practice. - -I am so grateful for coach Beaty, he has us on the track back, nothing but good things from him and the staff. - -But for you to try we were not competitive and or legit -that's funny we were a hell of a lot more legit then we have been in the last 8 seasons 14-70, there's something to write home about - -Dam

1 month, 1 week ago

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David Kelley-Wood

He had a losing record while he was turning it around and building it up. After the program turned the corner, the record was pretty impressive. And, that final year was not representative of what he'd accomplished either, given the cloud he was operating under. Just throwing 23-41 out there out of context is pretty ludicrous.. .

1 month, 1 week ago

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Richie Wilson

Easy there Brad! Not saying he was bad coach. Legitimate POWER may be a little strong. That was all I was saying. The record is what it is. And I would take that 23-41 over the last 8 years in a heart beat!

1 month, 1 week ago

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Ryan Shelton

Brad is right. He built them up from nothing into a power. His overall Big XII record only shows that it was a slow process. When you consider the last few years, minus the slide at the very end, Coach Mangino had them competitive and even vying for a conference title. To me, that's legitimate.

1 month, 1 week ago

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Gerry Butler

Thank you Ryan, glad to se there is some that know something, you are right Coach Mangino DID have KU competitive, very competitive - -that IS lEGIT

1 month, 1 week ago

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Randy Bombardier

You're right. Thats what I'm looking for, that competitiveness. Saw it in our defense most every game last year. Saw it versus TCU, OKIE ST, TEXAS, IOWA ST, even much of TTECH game and we played K-STATE the best we've played them in years. It's coming, its building. Can you sense it?

https://youtu.be/xcxKbY8T-Y0

1 month, 1 week ago

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Buck Bukaty

I miss the days we could compete with and beat a Nebraska. Hopefully those days are around the corner. Who knows, maybe someday we'll have another shot at Nebraska, and the KU Marching Band can celebrate a certain score by performing at halftime, 76 Trombones, in honor of Coach Mangino, his staff, and players!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBQWs...

Anyone who keeps Peanut M&Ms within reach on his desk is fine by me and a friend of mine! Welcome back and enjoy yourself Coach Mangino!!

1 month, 1 week ago

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Doug Cramer

Lou Perkins actions still makes me sick.

Mangino - thank you for those awesome years as our head coach. So many great memories.

1 month, 1 week ago

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Lonnie Ross Dillon

Don't forget he lost his last seven games. He and the team just rolled over and gave up. Yes, 2007 was a great year, but it was an anomaly and he couldn't reproduce it. Don't let the memory of 2007 cloud the facts.

1 month, 1 week ago

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Chris DeWeese

I think the slide happened right around the time the allegations against Mangino surfaced. It seemed the whole team was distracted and preoccupied. It seemed to create some discontent within the team.

1 month, 1 week ago

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Brad Farha

No, no no no no. I don't think it's fair to say the team gave up. Yes there was the cloud of the witch hunt that had to affect the players, but let's not forget that Reesing was injured in game 5 (groin).

He was never the same the rest of the season. That was a huge factor in those 7 losses.

1 month, 1 week ago

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Harlan Hobbs

A classy decision by all involved. If they can move on and simply revel in the accomplishments of the "Fighting Manginos", then we should all do so as well.

1 month, 1 week ago

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Jim Stauffer

It is the right thing to do. Of the two people, Perkins and Mangino, we should have kept Mark.

1 month, 1 week ago

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Bryce Landon

We would have if Robert Hemingway had still been chancellor and not Bernadette Gray-Little.

1 month, 1 week ago

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Robert Brock

Fire Zenger!

1 month, 1 week ago

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Don Hortenstine

Just remember this is the coach that put 70 on Nebraska... We'll never see that again and I'll never forget it...

1 month, 1 week ago

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Brad Farha

Not just 70....but 76!!! The highest point total ever dropped on the Conrhuskers!! A great day (and the game in 2005 was great as well).

1 month, 1 week ago

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Bryce Landon

That was my favorite KU football team ever, and probably always will be. I had the good fortune of being at two games during that season - the Baylor game (riddled with rain and lightning delays) and the Nebraska game. The 76-pointer against Nebraska was the most fun I have ever had at any football game ever, and what made it sweeter was that one of the guys I took with me to watch the game was an NU fan at his first Husker game ever!

1 month, 1 week ago

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Don Hortenstine

I remember watching that game on TV and my father-in-law wanted to change the channel to a game that had a closer score. I told him no, we're watching history!

1 month, 1 week ago

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Titus Canby

There's a BBQ place in Mission, KS that still has a sandwich named "The Mangino." It make me proud every time I go there. I think Quinton's in Lawrence discontinued the name a few years ago though. "Our coach can eat your coach."

1 month, 1 week ago

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Bryce Landon

I remember seeing that line on the back of blue "Joe College" t-shirts in the mid-2000s. Joe College had some funny lines on the back of their t-shirts.

1 month, 1 week ago

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Richie Wilson

Is 50,907 our best attendance year ever?

1 month, 1 week ago

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