After Fingergate, Can Mark Mangino and the Jayhawks' Season Be Salvaged?

Denny K.Correspondent INovember 18, 2009

LAWRENCE, KS - NOVEMBER 18:  Mark Mangino  of the Kansas Jayhawks stands on the field during the game against the Kansas State Wildcats on November 18, 2006 at Memorial Stadium in Lawrence, Kansas.  Kansas won 39-20.  (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
Brian Bahr/Getty Images

The opinion is wide spread among Jayhawk fans today that even though Mark Mangino probably did nothing wrong in Fingergate, the entire situation has been such a public relations fiasco that there is no other alternative than to banish the big guy from Lawrence forever. 

Tom Keegan of the Lawrence Journal World has written that it is "difficult to see Mangino coaching beyond this season." 

I disagree.

This situation began and will end with the athletic director, Lew Perkins.  The original handling and advertisement of the situation by Perkins created the current blood-in-the-water feeding frenzy around Mangino. 

This would all have been avoidable if Perkins had acted more professionally and kept the complaints in-house.  The public revelation of these complaints have hurt Perkins, Mangino, the university, and the players.

Last year, in Bo Pelini's first season at Nebraska his team descended into a painful midseason three-game losing streak.  Concerns began to circulate in Lincoln about Pelini's temperament with players and officials.  Pelini went even so far as to admit himself that his sideline antics and temper were casting a negative light on the Nebraska football program. 

How did the Nebraska athletic director, Tom Osborne, handle the situation?  Did he announce a players only meeting to give a forum to student athletes and their parents to voice their concerns?  No.  Osborne spoke in-private with Pelini about his behavior.  Since that meeting Pelini has been noticably more reserved on the sidelines.  Issue solved.

Perkins could wrap up this matter with a similar meeting as Osborne had with Pelini and a public statement of support for Mangino at the conclusion of the investigation.  The 2007 Orange Bowl Champion deserves this much. 

In today's fast media cycle the November drama of Fingergate would quickly blow over, and the effect on recruiting would be minimal.  While it is extraordinarily unlikely that Kansas will beat Texas on Saturday, it is very likely that Kansas could defeat Missouri in the Border Showdown and make a bowl with a 6-6 record. 

With a month to practice and let sores heal, the football team could cap off a mostly dissapointing year with a bowl victory for the seniors.

It was just a couple of years ago that Zach Grienke was being publically ridiculed in newspapers and on local sports radio for his anxiety issues.  Look how that played out thanks to the Royals' stick-to-it-ness. 

The option of standing by Mangino is still on the table for Lew Perkins this year.  It is the best choice for the players, fans and university. 

That said, we will have to see in coming days and weeks what Perkins chooses to do with the coach who guided Kansas to its most successful season in school history.