- Thursday, November 19, 2009 8:35 AM
- Written By: Jonathan Crowl
Not that there's a whole lot to get distracted from, but news of a probe into Kansas coach Mark Mangino's coaching habits has fully eclipsed the bulk of games on the Big 12 slate (pun slightly intended). Amid a five-game losing streak, stories have surfaced of Mangino verbally abusing athletes and hitting them in the chest and shoulder pads. The philosophy behind the actions, according to several players speaking out on the subject, is that Mangino aims to break his players down in order to build them back up stronger, and to motivate through anger.
Some definitely seem motivated by their anger, but not in the way he'd hoped. Now Mangino has to scrape and claw to get his Jayhawks bowl eligible while wondering if he'll have a job at the end of this probe.
If KU has grown tired of Mangino, this could be a convenient means to an end. It seems like Mangino has a hairy situation even if he doesn't leave -- recruits generally don't want to go play football so they can be humiliated and attacked.
I don't have any insider knowledge of the situation. But I do have YouTube to help me draw my conclusion, which is that the claims aren't far from the truth:
Colorado at Oklahoma State (Thursday): I can't easily articulate why, but Oklahoma State's games so often fail to intrigue me. It's not that the Cowboys aren't a good team with an explosive offense and a bright future. It's just that until I see them make a leap toward the elite level, they're just a good team that isn't living up to what it could be. They had me after the Georgia game, but lost me against Houston the following week. Even a crushing win over Colorado won't make them easier to love, although beating Oklahoma next week will.
Oklahoma at Texas Tech: If Texas Tech ever wanted to exact revenge on Oklahoma for ruining its perfect season last year, opportunities like this only come once every few years. But when you look at Oklahoma's losses this season, all of them have been at the hands of capable, if not excellent, defense. The Sooners also have a penchant for muzzling the Red Raiders, and unless Steven Sheffield plays the whole game and throws close to 500 yards, I think Oklahoma escapes.
Iowa State at Missouri: Easily the toughest game to call this week. Do you go with the team that has more talent and, on paper, should win, or the team that has proven it knows how to win and continues to improve? The thing about Iowa State is that it has played consistently on the road. In the Big 12 North the Cyclones won at Nebraska and lost to Kansas State and Kansas by a combined six points. And it seems like confidence has been one of the bigger hurdles this team has faced this year, and they've continually cleared it. So let's say seven wins for the Cyclones.
Baylor at Texas A&M: Texas A&M can become bowl eligible with a win, and you should expect that to happen. The Aggies are still a pretty shoddy team, and you would be wise to note that I would definitely pick Baylor if they still had their starting quarterback. But if Baylor pushes the Aggies, I won't be surprised. Even with a plague of injuries, this program's better now than it has been in past years.
Kansas State at Nebraska: The Big 12 North Championship game is a throwback to a decade ago, when Kansas State was coming into its prime and forcing its games with Nebraska into nationally-televised contests. It's great to see this game have meaning again, even if it doesn't have the national title implications of the past. Nebraska will win with defense and give itself a shot at Texas in the Big 12 title game.
Kansas at Texas: This was a good week for all the Mangino buzz to come out. With or without it, the Jayhawks would be losing this game. That'll be six straight losses. But hey, at least this bad news didn't come out in 2007 during Kansas' mid-Orange Bowl run. Back then, Mangino was the hottest item on the meet rack. After two sub-par seasons, he doesn't exactly have a wellspring of support.