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

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