Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mangino Isn't The Problem

I'm not sure if there is a growing epidemic in Kansas, or if the problems I see stretch as far as the swine flu, but one thing is for sure: the wave of sensitivity in sports is absolutely pathetic. I just wrote about the crying over Chiefs coach Todd Haley's fondness for F-bombs. Now, it's Kansas Jayhawks coach Mark Mangino.

We all know by now that Mangino repeatedly yelled at, berated, and put his hands on his players. He was, for lack of a better word, abusive, both mentally and physically. Reports of Mangino giving the same treatment to campus police also paint the coach as a mean, unstable man. Unlike Jason Whitlock, I'm not going to tell you he is this way because he's fat. I don't care why he's this way, but I know he is.

What bothers me is why all of this is coming out. Could the players just not take it anymore? Was it getting to be too much? From what I've heard, there aren't any players calling for Mangino's firing. Most of the reports are coming from former players. During a five game losing streak, mind you. Nobody wants to hear how mean the coach is when you're 12-1 and hoisting up an Orange Bowl trophy. But when you are in the midst of a hugely disappointing season? All of a sudden people become very interested.

If these reports were about Urban Meyer, I can guarantee you that the response from fans would be that this is all sour grapes; complaining from weak players who couldn't handle it. Obviously it works, the success is there. Remember, Kansas football was a joke before Mangino arrived. It was his toughness and his old-school approach which got results. Only, the results aren't there, so toughness is turned into abusiveness.

When I played football as a ten year old, I had a coach who day after day would tell me I wasn't good enough, made me run laps even when I didn't do anything wrong, etc. Truth is, I was small, weak and not really committed, and that abusive coaching would have resulted in two things: either me getting the message and working through it, or complaining and deciding to quit. I chose the latter. I was a weak kid. However, I did learn the lesson. I understand now what these former players obviously have failed to grasp.

We live in a blame-first society. Nothing is ever our fault. It's the mean coach's fault the team didn't get better, the conniving coworker's fault we didn't get the promotion. It's never the weak-minded players that lose games or your fault for not working hard enough for a pay raise.

Mangino said today that "I can’t do the work of some parents, what they should have done before they got to me. There’s some things for 18 years that happened in their lives that I can’t change in four years of college. Can’t change their behaviors, can’t change their attitudes." He surely can't change their minds, either. He's to blame, and that is that.

Just remember, KU fans, that when you're wearing your Orange Bowl shirts, old-school abuse brought those results in. So if you don't like the way Mangino coaches, fine. But you need to throw those shirts and those memories away. You can't have it both ways.
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