The Vocation of a Coach

Kansas lost to Missouri on Saturday, marring their undefeated season and shot at the national title. But still, that the Kansas Jayhawks came out of nowhere–being completely unranked at the beginning of the season–to having had a legitimate shot at the national championship is a testimony to coach Mark Mangino.

The massively obese coach is a football genius, just as the massively obese Nero Wolfe is a detection genius. Mangino has specialized in raising teams from the dead. He helped turn even Kansas State into a good football team while he was on the coaching staff. Then he served as the Offensive Coordinator for the Oklahoma Sooners. Back in the 1990s, the Sooners, gutted by NCAA program and recruitment penalties, were mired in mediocrity. They went through several hapless coaches before bringing on today’s Bob Stoops. He, in turn, brought in Mangino, and in 2000, the Sooners–pretty much unheralded until they crushed a powerful Texas team–won the national championship.

Now Mangino is the head coach at the University of Kansas, and he again worked his magic. (Nebraska should be taking up collections from school children to lure him there.) You have to remember that teams like Kansas do not have the benefit of all of those blue-ribbon recruits that the powerhouses do.

“He is doing what Bill Snyder did,” said [Mark] Stallard, who wrote “Tales From the Jayhawks Gridiron.” “Take three-star players and coach them into four- or five-star players that Texas A&M or Texas overlooked.”

COACH them into five-star players! Taking someone of modest ability and TEACHING him to be great! That is the sign of a first-rate coach, a vocation that, we sometimes forget, is a subset of the TEACHER.

Mark Mangino

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Michael Benoit

    I attended my first professional football game this past weekend and was preoccupied thinking about the vocation of the men in blue jackets who fix the divots in the field during commercial breaks. Thanks a lot, Doctrine of Vocation! [[[[[[[[[[;/

  • Michael Benoit

    I attended my first professional football game this past weekend and was preoccupied thinking about the vocation of the men in blue jackets who fix the divots in the field during commercial breaks. Thanks a lot, Doctrine of Vocation! [[[[[[[[[[;/

  • Richard

    Man, is he fat! This could be a reason why he isn’t taken as seriously as he could be.

  • Richard

    Man, is he fat! This could be a reason why he isn’t taken as seriously as he could be.

  • Booklover

    My husband is one who can recognize football talent and bring it to its highest peak. He did not become a teacher and coach, however, because of the lack of pay. So he took a business job, which he hates. He has taken every Little Guy Football team that he has coached to win the city championships. He has also taken many Little League Baseball teams to the regional championships. He only acts alive when he coaches. When choosing an occupation, do you choose one you love and stay poor, or do you choose one you hate and live a little better? Looking back, I’m thinking he should have gone the former route and taken up as many extra jobs (drivers’ training teaching, etc.) as he could to make ends meet. We had our problems anyway with the business job–not secure.

    Now the problem is in helping to guide four sons in their vocation choices. One son is incredibly gifted in math and had chosen chemical engineering, with scholarships. Now he wants to dump that all and go for a career in sports journalism. I don’t know if that is realistic because they give those jobs now to ex-pro-athletes. But the sons all think sports is fun and “real life.”

  • Booklover

    My husband is one who can recognize football talent and bring it to its highest peak. He did not become a teacher and coach, however, because of the lack of pay. So he took a business job, which he hates. He has taken every Little Guy Football team that he has coached to win the city championships. He has also taken many Little League Baseball teams to the regional championships. He only acts alive when he coaches. When choosing an occupation, do you choose one you love and stay poor, or do you choose one you hate and live a little better? Looking back, I’m thinking he should have gone the former route and taken up as many extra jobs (drivers’ training teaching, etc.) as he could to make ends meet. We had our problems anyway with the business job–not secure.

    Now the problem is in helping to guide four sons in their vocation choices. One son is incredibly gifted in math and had chosen chemical engineering, with scholarships. Now he wants to dump that all and go for a career in sports journalism. I don’t know if that is realistic because they give those jobs now to ex-pro-athletes. But the sons all think sports is fun and “real life.”

  • Paul S

    When you see the size of this man and other coaches like Andy Reid of the Eagles you have to wonder why people who are so successful at practicing and teaching discipline cannot get there bodies under control. Human beings sure are complicated.

    Does your Nero Wolfe reference come from your reading or Radio Classics on Sirius?

  • Paul S

    When you see the size of this man and other coaches like Andy Reid of the Eagles you have to wonder why people who are so successful at practicing and teaching discipline cannot get there bodies under control. Human beings sure are complicated.

    Does your Nero Wolfe reference come from your reading or Radio Classics on Sirius?

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    I was disappointed by the game this weekend, I wanted KU to win because they were the Big 12 North whipping boy for so long. He has my respect as a coach and I am not looking forward to the next time my Aggies face him. I hope our next coach is just as good, if not better.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    I was disappointed by the game this weekend, I wanted KU to win because they were the Big 12 North whipping boy for so long. He has my respect as a coach and I am not looking forward to the next time my Aggies face him. I hope our next coach is just as good, if not better.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    Booklover, it sounds like your husband is carrying out his coaching vocation. You don’t have to be paid for what you are called to do.

    Paul S, my Nero Wolfe reference comes from reading mystery novels. I’m not familiar with the radio version, though this sounds like a good reason to go satellite.

    I also admit to loving the irony of someone who stresses the physical fitness of others is not physically fit himself!

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    Booklover, it sounds like your husband is carrying out his coaching vocation. You don’t have to be paid for what you are called to do.

    Paul S, my Nero Wolfe reference comes from reading mystery novels. I’m not familiar with the radio version, though this sounds like a good reason to go satellite.

    I also admit to loving the irony of someone who stresses the physical fitness of others is not physically fit himself!

  • Don, the Rebel without a Blog

    Have you heard this one? Coach Mangino was out driving and got lost. He stopped at a gas station to ask for directions.

    “Can you tell me how to get to 435?” Mangino asked.

    The guy at the gas station looked at him and replied, “Try skipping a few meals!”

  • Don, the Rebel without a Blog

    Have you heard this one? Coach Mangino was out driving and got lost. He stopped at a gas station to ask for directions.

    “Can you tell me how to get to 435?” Mangino asked.

    The guy at the gas station looked at him and replied, “Try skipping a few meals!”

  • http://maplemountain.blogspot.com/ samuel

    While I am all for a playoff, I’m happy that the team that I consider to be the best in the nation (or at least there’s no cogent argument against them being among the top two, or three) the Mountaineers of West Virginia, have the inside track.

    Here is a team that has a great motto “stay humble, stay hungry” and a great team. Let’s juts hope the couch-burners don’t embarrass us all.

  • http://maplemountain.blogspot.com/ samuel

    While I am all for a playoff, I’m happy that the team that I consider to be the best in the nation (or at least there’s no cogent argument against them being among the top two, or three) the Mountaineers of West Virginia, have the inside track.

    Here is a team that has a great motto “stay humble, stay hungry” and a great team. Let’s juts hope the couch-burners don’t embarrass us all.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X