Collected Wisdom: Mark Mangino, Youngstown State assistant and former Kansas head coach

Mangino was offensive coordinator on Oklahoma's 2000 national championship team, and then led Kansas to unprecedented success during his eight seasons as its head coach before resigning in 2009 amid allegations of emotional abuse toward players.
by Jason Kersey Modified: October 21, 2013 at 8:00 am •  Published: October 19, 2013

I told the media several times, we live and work for the present, mindful of the future, but not trying to look into it. We just kept sawing wood, and the program gradually got better.

I think if a coach takes over a program that has historically not been successful, and he walks into his opening press conference and says, ‘We're gonna win the conference,' and, ‘In three years we're gonna compete for a national championship,' you probably oughta check him for insanity.

I think you've gotta go in and say, ‘Listen, we've gotta roll up our sleeves and start working. And if we work really hard, and if we do the right things, run a clean program and try to recruit quality kids the best we can, who knows what the limit can be?'

I just get a chuckle sometimes … you've gotta respect the enthusiasm of a new coach when he comes into a program, but there are some programs that, historically, have struggled. When they hire a new coach, I love to watch those press conferences.

They say, ‘We're gonna do this, and we're gonna do that.' And I'm thinking, ‘Be careful my friend. Be careful what you say. You might have to back it up sooner than you think.'

From the outside, everyone would think we were depressed and pouted and felt bad (after leaving Kansas). We were disappointed.

But you know what? In about 48 hours, we shook it off, we got with our kids, we laughed and joked, and said, ‘Hey, this is part of this profession. Sometimes things happen that you may or may not deserve.'

Football parallels life. Not everything's gonna go your way. Sometimes bad things happen to people who don't deserve it, but that goes in life as well as football.

There was nobody sitting around the Mangino house feeling bad for themself. I can assure you of that.

I think Youngstown State is the right place at the right time.

Being with Eric Wolford, a former player of ours at Kansas State, he has done everything he could possibly do to make me comfortable here. What I like about it is, everybody appreciates your hard work and your effort. That's why you want to do all you can to help them.

This is FCS-level football, but it's doggone good football. There's a lot of talented players. Just check the NFL Draft every year, and see how many players are drafted from this conference.

Some Division I programs get off on this theory about recruiting off of lists, and who's got stars, and this and that. I think that's why some of these kids who can play at the highest level have trickled down to our level.

You're still dealing with highly competitive athletes and coaches, so you still have the same enthusiasm and buzz and urgency to prepare well. The biggest difference is the crowds are not as big, and there's not a lot of fanfare that goes with BCS-level football.

It doesn't make the newspapers; it doesn't make the Internet. But when you take a kid that needs a chance in life, and maybe his family didn't have that chance, and you see him make the most of it, get a college degree and be successful, it's a great feeling.

It's the same elation of winning a game, and maybe more so. It really is. That's what it's all about.

When things are tough, when things aren't going right, when something looks like it's insurmountable and difficult, just keep sawin' wood.

by Jason Kersey
OU Sports Reporter
Jason Kersey became The Oklahoman's OU football beat writer in May 2012 after a year covering high school sports and OSU recruiting. Before joining the newspaper in November 2006 as a part-time results clerk, he covered high school football for...
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