Great days for Jayhawks
Mark Mangino walked off the elevator Tuesday morning at the Marriott Hotel and smiled big. Mangino always has been a friendly sort. There are people who will tell you of Mangino’s not-so-amiable side, and sometimes he displays in the public forum of a gridiron, but one-on-one, he’s always been gregarious with me.
Anyway, here came Mangino. We shook hands and I did something I can’t remember ever doing with a football coach. I slapped him on the back. Said, “Mark, haven’t seen you since the Orange Bowl. How about that?”
He knew what I meant. After five years of Mangino treading water and trying to build KU into a decent football school, the Jayhawks jumped the level of respectability and went straight to spectacular, with a 12-1 record.
Mangino smiled at me and said simply, “Ya gotta believe.”
It’s really not any more complicated than that. Most every coach, every good coach at least, starts there. Belief in his system. Belief in himself. Belief in his players.
Later, in the press conference, Mangino would say, “You know, coming off a pretty good season last year, expectations are very high for our program in Lawrence, in the state of Kansas and around the country.
“And we’re extremely excited about that. We embrace those expectations, because there was a time when I first arrived here that there were no expectations for Kansas’s football program.”
Kansas, the home of Dorothy and Toto, now believes.
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