Does Mark Mangino have a future in college football?
It's hard to imagine Mangino, who has been a successful coach in the Big 12 for over a decade now, giving up on coaching at the age of 53.
Many voices in the media are saying that Mangino's career is kaput. While it is unclear, it seems likely that at least, in part, Mangino's public and controversial firing at Kansas was because of alleged verbal and physical abuse of players. However, we do not know if that is actually the case. The decision was announced without a news conference, and Kansas athletic director Lew Perkins refuses to speak about the firing at all for legal reasons.
As the old mantra goes though, most people believe that where there is smoke there is fire. Mangino, the 2007 College Football Head Coach of the Year, has definitely taken a public relations hit.
If Mangino does come back to the college game he will not be the first shamed coach to make his way back to campus. Remember, Mike Price was let go at Alabama before he ever coached a game for allegedly checking into a hotel room with a stripper.
No doubt, Price and Tiger Woods could cry each other a river about their somewhat similar public humiliations. Price sat out a year after being embarrassed and then went to UTEP, where he just completed his sixth season as head coach.
George O'Leary taught us all a lesson about lying a few years back too. O'Leary left Georgia Tech to take over at Notre Dame but never coached a game after misstatements were discovered on his resume.
I remember being amazed when this story broke that major program coaching candidates actually submitted resumes. O'Leary spent two years as an NFL assistant after his firing before becoming the head coach at Central Florida, where he's now been for six seasons.
Both O'Leary and Price never regained their high stature in college football it can be argued. UCF and UTEP are definite downgrades from Alabama and Notre Dame, but they didn't end up living the rest of their lives on a desert island either. In fact, you could argue they both did themselves a favor by leaving behind those high pressure jobs for more stable positions at lesser schools.
There are a couple head coaching vacancies that Mark Mangino would be a good fit for this year, including spots at Youngstown State where Mangino is an alumnus and Akron.
For my two cents though, I have a hard time seeing Mangino not turning back up in the Big 12.
As you could tell by the number of Big 12 coaches who rushed to Mangino's defense in the last month or so, including Mack Brown, Bob Stoops, Mike Leach, and Bill Snyder, he is a man not without significant friends or respect in the conference.
Before Mangino became the Kansas head coach, he was voted in 2000 the nation's top assistant coach and given the Frank Broyles Award for his role as Oklahoma Offensive Coordinator during the Sooner's National Championship run.
Mangino has some impressive awards on his trophy shelf. Assistant Coach of the Year (2000), Coach of the Year (2007), a National Championship and an Orange Bowl victory. None of these awards however, are as impressive as Mangino's turn around of a moribund Kansas Jayhawks football program. It was nothing short of incredible.
Mangino would be a great pick-up for many Big 12 programs as an Offensive Coordinator or Co-Coordinator. Mangino worked at Oklahoma and Kansas State as an assistant before he came to Kansas. Both of those schools could benefit from having Mangino return to their staffs in some capacity to give their offenses a jolt.
Mangino knows the Big 12 inside and out thanks to his experience in both the North and South divisions. He would be a great resource to have on the sideline just for that alone and not simply the fact that he is widely regarded as one of the smarter offensive minds in the league.
I think Oklahoma State would be an interesting fit for Mangino.
Mike Gundy, who has been the Cowboys’ offensive coordinator for eight seasons (he was their offensive coordinator before he became head coach in 2005), could benefit from hiring an offensive coordinator and focusing on his head coaching duties. The Cowboys' underachieved on the offensive side of the ball this year.
Surely, it would be nice to have a someone who worked with Bob Stoops for years leading the offense into next year's Bedlam game.
It's a long shot, but if Kansas legend and current Texas A & M offensive coordinator Nolan Cromwell left to become head coach at Kansas, who would be a better fit to replace him than Mangino? Last year we saw a coaching swap between Iowa State and Auburn that actually seemed to pay dividends for both schools.
The biggest questions with all this speculation, though, is whether or not Mangino would even want to work next year or just kick back and enjoy the golden parachute settlement Kansas probably rewarded him with. It's possible that Mangino would choose that route, but I don't think it's likely given his drive and personality.
Whatever happens with Mangino next season and years after, I think it's safe to say that his hiatus from college football will not be permanent.