Good article on Dez in the KC Star today. That makes just about every outlet that covers Kansas football; I guess that's what happens when you completely dominate the Oklahoma secondary on your own.
SI.com has an article up about Mack Brown and because it was written by Joe Posnanski, it's definitely worth a read. And while I'm not quite sure I agree with his assertion that Mack is the best coach in America, he makes some valid and interesting points. First off, I find his good credit/bad credit thing incredibly true with everyone he mentions, as well as many others. Very intriguing. But more to the point, when he's making his case about Mack being the best, he cites the six things a school is looking for in its football coach. What I want to do is look at those six things as they pertain to our own Mount Mangino.
1. Win. Sure, his first season was a little ugly (2-10, 0-8), but ever since then we've had little to complain about considering the circumstances. 2004 (4-7) and 2006 (6-6) were frustrating years, because of what they could have been. In '04, six losses came by a combined total of 29 points. Two of those losses came when Tech and Texas both scored touchdowns on their last drives of the game, after KU had led throughout. '06 was much the same, only against a lesser schedule. Only in Columbia did they not hold either a late fourth quarter lead or an extremely significant second half lead. Yet they lost six times. But that aside, he's compiled a 42-38 record (20 of the last 24) and led the team to their best season of all time as 12-1 Orange Bowl Champions.
2. Win the big games. This one is a little hard to quantify, since there haven't been a whole lot of them. He hasn't gone out and led a whole slew of upsets, but he has exorcised a few demons. After being humiliated by KSU for years, he broke that streak in 2004 and has gone 3-1 since (3-3) overall. Despite (arguably) having less talent on the field each time, he's gone 3-3 against MU. And much more importantly he's gone 2-1 in bowl games with last year's Orange Bowl win the highlight. This will hopefully become more measurable in years to come as the magnitude of games continue to grow.
3. Go to bowl games and win them. This seems like much the same as point #2, but alas, it's not my list. Either way, it's worth noting that in 6 years he's been bowl eligible 4 times and gone to three, winning twice. Assuming they add to that total this year, it will be the first time in their history that Kansas has gone to bowls in back-to-back years.
4. Make game adjustments. This is one I'm not so sure about. Obviously there were the late game disappointments of '04 and '06. Similarly, it was extremely frustrating to watch them never make an adjustment at Arrowhead last year or during the third quarters in Tampa and Norman this year. I probably don't know enough about football to be critiquing game plans/adjustments too much, but the proof is in the pudding that not only have there not been a ton of comebacks, but also there have been plenty of late blown leads. (Note: The job done in Ames this year was very commendable, however.)
5. Recruit talented players. He's not getting too many (or any) five stars just yet, but the caliber of player has definitely improved in year's past. A simple look at the NFL will reveal that he's either getting better players or making them better. Of the 7 Jayhawks in the NFL, four were drafted in April.
6. Energize the fan base. Absolutely. When he arrived, morale was at an all time low. The average attendance record was set in 1969 (42,161) and had not been broken since. In 2005 he broke it (43,6750. In 2006 he broke it again (44,137). Same thing last year (46, 784). And they're on pace to break it again (50,516) with every remaining game on the schedule already sold out. Factor in the $31 million he raised for the new football complex and I'd say he's energized the fan base a little.
7. Get the most out of your players (I'm adding this one). The reason I added this one is threefold…
1) I think this is a crucial point that Joe misses in his article. Possibly on purpose? You've got to make your argument, after all. Because while I think he's on target with Mack's credit rating, very few would even consider questioning most of these things on Mack's resume. What people want to know is…How, amongst all this success and with all of this talent, has he only managed to win the Big XII one time?
2) I think it's something any energetic (and educated) fan base wants out of their coach. As big of a disappointment as Bill Callahan was, perhaps his biggest failure was how little he seemed to get out of his players. Despite always having a top tier recruiting class, he could only put together two winning seasons. And despite having (arguably) a better athlete on the field at every position, Kansas scored 69 points on them in under 3 quarters of football.
3) And finally, I think it's Mangino's strong suit. It's hard to quantify any of this and I don't want to short change the players. But as little as I trust recruiting services, it's still pretty apparent that he's rarely taking the field with the same level of talent. And yet as they proved a week ago (or in last year's Orange Bowl), they can play with anyone. Which is why it's so easy to like this team.
Nothing against Mack (I'd kill for that kind of success), but it's easy to understand why his fan base gets upset at times. When you know you have the talent to beat anyone and yet you're going 0-4 against Ron Prince & Dennis Franchione in a two year span, the diehards get restless. Bad credit rating or not, I don't think that's too unfair. To quote my man Marlo, "that sounds like one of them good problems."