Less than two years removed from taking home the Bear Bryant Award which goes to college football's top head coach, Kansas coach Mark Mangino's mouth is getting him in trouble. No, I'm not talking about the fifth serving of cheesecake he may or may not have had (ok, DID have) after dinner tonight putting more undue stress on his ticker. No, it's not an eating issue, it's a talking issue. Well, a yelling and screaming and ranting and raving issue, more accurately.
You see, Mark Mangino likes to push his players' buttons by belittling them with insults. Nothing new there, some coaches have been doing the whole "break 'em down to build 'em up again thing" since the dawn of time. Bill Parcells won Super Bowls doing it. Bobby Knight became the all-time winningest coach in college basketball doing it. But we all know the best insults are the ones that are really personal, and when it comes to spinning a barb that cuts to someone's core, Mangino is apparently a maestro.
For the record, these insults have now become an issue which threatens Mangino's employment. While I can't say I condone the things Mangino said (which I will list in just a moment), I do find his overuse of the word "homies" to be delightfully uncomfortable in a "WOW, he sounds even whiter than me" kind of way. Also, I find it funny that none of these things were an issue when Mangino was going 12-1 and winning the Orange Bowl. Apparently, back then he could have sat on his players' heads and farted or shown them videos he took of himself in the shower, and it wouldn't have been an issue. But lose five in a row in a season where hopes were high, and the receipts for years of verbal abuse will get presented to you like you're the Best Buy customer service desk.
Part of me wants to tell the former players alleging the verbal abuse (which also for some has a side order of chest-poking or jersey-grabbing attached to it) to turn the page; part of me hopes Mangino gets canned for the damage he's inflicted on my "Kansas over 7.5 wins" wager this season; and part of me hopes that he survives this turmoil because the "when in doubt, write about Mangino" adage is important for those of us in the content-generation business.
Should he stay or should he go? Well, some of it comes down to the answer to "Just how hurtful were the things he said?" As winner of five Smack-Offs on the Jim Rome Show (the
foundation of the Smack-Off being personal insults and figurative chest-poking), I feel I'm uniquely qualified to judge just how biting Mangino's chops are. Consider me like the Roger Cossack of hurtful, personal insults. When you need an expert in the area of being verbally ugly to others, I'm the guy.
So according to Mark Mangino's former players, here is a scorecard of Mangino's hurtful, personal smack:
QUOTE: "If you don't shut up, I'm going to send you back to St. Louis so you can get shot with your homies."
TARGET: Former Kansas WR Raymond Brown
BACK STORY: Raymond Brown has a brother (one he presumably also considers a "homey") who was shot in the arm in St. Louis.
SEAN'S ASSESSMENT: Mangino pulled off the "double dip" here, managing to insult and belittle one of his players, while at the same time trivializing a near-death experience of his brother....it's like a downfield block that takes out two DB's at the same time. Bonus points for use of the word "homies."
POTENTIAL COMEBACK BROWN SHOULD'VE USED: "Sending back something other than a steak for being undercooked would be a good start for you, Coach."
QUOTE: "Are you going to be a lawyer or do you want to become an alcoholic like your dad?"
TARGET: An undisclosed teammate of Raymond Brown
BACK STORY: Said player had confided in the team that he had an alcoholic father and that he dreamed of one day becoming a lawyer
SEAN'S ASSESSMENT: I like that Mangino didn't go to the slew of lawyer jokes that are available to someone with his biting wit; that would've been lazy. Instead, he chose to hone in on the alcoholic father. I would have liked to see him come up with a belittling nickname for the dad like "Saucy Redwine" or "Otis, the Town Drunk." Also, he didn't use the word "homey," which is an issue with me.
POTENTIAL COMEBACK UNDISCLOSED PLAYER SHOULD'VE USED: "Definitely a
lawyer, and my first case will be suing you on behalf of the Kool-Aid man for gimmick infringement."
QUOTE: "You were a shit friend to someone I knew that passed away. You're a bum. I'll send you back to Oakland where you could be drinking out of a brown paper bag."
TARGET: Former LB Joe Mortensen
BACK STORY: Mortensen is from Oakland, apparently was a bad friend to someone who died, and had a citation for alcohol consumption at some point.
SEAN'S ASSESSMENT: One thing to insult someone's effort on the field, but entirely another to make them feel guilty about the way they treated someone who died. Mangino is breaking new ground here, like Gus Malzahn with the Wildcat formation. Amazing. The brown-paper-bag insult was a good one; I'd have been more specific about what was in the bag as Boone's Farm and Mad Dog 20/20 are drinks no one likes to be accused of "brown bagging." Also, at least two shots at mixing in "homies" and we got nothin'.
POTENTIAL COMEBACK FOR MORTENSEN: "Admit it, Coach...you drink maple syrup out of a brown paper bag, don't you..."
QUOTE: "You're not back with your homies. If you're not careful you'll be watching the game in the stands with your homies. You'll be back in that neighborhood."
TARGET: Former RB Jocques Crawford
BACK STORY: Crawford apparently came from somewhere with lots of homies and, perhaps missing said homies, transferred to Tennessee Tech after one season.
SEAN'S ASSESSMENT: Threats to send someone to watch the game in the stands are not super-original, but sometimes you only need a single to drive in a run. Fortunately, we get multiple references to Crawford's homies so a single becomes a triple in the gap, just like that.
POTENTIAL COMEBACK FOR CRAWFORD: "If you're gonna send me to the stands, all I ask is you put me on the visitor's side. We can't see shit on the field with you standing in front of us, Coach."
I hope these accusations don't force Mangino to dial it back; you would hate to see "the establishment" keeping someone who may be the very best at what he does off his game. In conclusion, I leave you with this video and I'll let you decide for yourself....Mark Mangino, what do we do?
THIS WEEKEND'S BEST BETS
As always, we take a look back and see what kind of damage I did last week,
and it goes as follows:
USC -10.5 vs Stanford (Stanford 55-21, LOSER by a MILE!)
Texas -23.5 at Baylor (Texas 47-14, WINNER, never even sweated it)
Utah +20 vs TCU (TCU 55-28, LOSER!)
Detroit +16.5 at Minnesota (Minn 27-10, PAINFUL LOSER, half a point)
San Diego -1 vs Philadelphia (SD 28-23, WINNER!)
KC/Oakland under 37 (KC 16-10, WINNER!)
Record Last Week: 3-3
Record on Hair Balls: 8-9-1
This week's six-teamer to get you some early Christmas shopping money...
Boise St -23 vs Utah State
Oklahoma/Texas Tech over 53.5
Arizona +6 vs Oregon
Vand/Tenn under 45
Detroit -3.5 vs Cleveland
Wash/Dallas over 41.5
Good luck on that ace!
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.