Thursday, November 29, 2007

Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year should go to . . .

Sports Illustrated will be announcing its annual Sportsman/person of the Year sometime next week....hopefully SI will not pull a stunt like Time magazine did last year when they named "everyday people" as their Person of the Year.....what is that crap?.....SI has been taking suggestions from people about who should be this year’s recipient....

Some of the names mentioned were: dogs (because of the Michael Vick saga), Appalachian State (because of their win over Michigan), and the worst of all - Joey Chestnut (because he ate more hot dogs than that Japanese guy).....a hot dog eating winner as Sportsman of the Year?? — what a freakin joke....

To me, I think being named Sportsman of the Year is a very big honor....some of the previous winners were Joe Paterno, Joe Montana, Tiger Woods, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, etc.....therefore, there are some worthy and most deserving candidates for this year’s honor:

* Roger Federer, tennis - this dude is the most dominant athlete in any sport, but he gets very little recognition because 1) is not from the United States; and 2) he doesn’t act like a jackass (ala Chad Johnson)....Federer is very humble and does not seek out the spotlight.....but on the tennis court, he methodically destroys any opponent....

* Tim Duncan, basketball - Duncan is very similar to Federer in which he is a success at his trade, but someone who does not seek the spotlight....he has led the San Antonio Spurs to four NBA titles....4 titles!!!....I bet most sports people do not even realize that....he has led the Spurs to more NBA titles than Larry Bird did with the Celtics and Shaq did with the Lakers......

* Peyton Manning, football - Manning finally got that albatross off his back by winning this year’s Super Bowl.....he is a true professional and a very good role model.....when his career is over, Manning will probably hold every quarterback record in the NFL.....

* Brett Favre, football - if I was betting on who will win it, my money would go on Favre.....he is having a spectacular year.....everyone loves Favre.....Favre can do no wrong....he is not only beating NFL opponents, but also Father Time......personally, I would not vote for Favre, but I have no problem if SI decides to give him this honor.....

* My choice for Sportsman of the Year would be both Tony Dungy and Bill Belichick.....both are successful NFL coaches, but with complete opposite personalities and values.....Dungy is the good guy who is personable and says the right things while Belichick is the essence of evil with his hooded sweatshirt and Spygate scandal.....but overall, both are two Hall of Fame quality coaches who have a major impact on the NFL....they also are great teachers - look at thow many assistant coaches under them went on to become head coaches....

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Story of Not Giving Up on Your Dream - The Story Behind Bear Mangenius

The New York Times recently ran a feature story about Mark "Bear" Mangino, head football coach at Kansas....I highly recommend that everyone take a few minutes to read it because it tells the story of a person who did not give up on his dream and who worked hard to become a success......

November 24, 2007
The Detours of a Coaching Life

KANSAS CITY, Mo., Nov. 23 — With Kansas only two victories from playing for college football’s national championship, perhaps the only thing more unlikely than its undefeated record and No. 2 Bowl Championship Series ranking is Coach Mark Mangino’s ascent to the top of his profession.

Kansas (11-0, 7-0 Big 12) is the only team from a major conference without a loss. The Jayhawks play archrival Missouri (10-1, 6-1) here Saturday for a spot in the conference title game. If Kansas or No. 4 Missouri wins the Big 12 title, it will most likely play for the national championship Jan. 8.

It is fitting that Mangino, 51, is being credited for reviving a program that had been a doormat for so long.

For 13 years, beginning while he was finishing his degree at Youngstown State in Ohio and continuing while he tried to build a career as a coach, Mangino worked on the 11 p.m.-to-7 a.m. shift for the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission as an emergency first responder, driving an ambulance, cleaning up bathrooms and removing dead deer from the road. “He didn’t sleep very much,” said Ohio State Coach Jim Tressel, who was the coach at Youngstown State for a year while Mangino worked there as a student assistant. “It was amazing. Anybody that put himself through the schedule he did, I knew he was going to go places.”

Before he made millions pacing the sideline, Mangino traversed a stretch of 25 miles on Interstate 76 near Homewood, Pa. His job, which he started in the late 1970s, included responding to wrecks along the turnpike, providing medical attention to victims and transporting them to the hospital.

Mangino was routinely called to fatal accidents, including one involving a young woman who had been struck by a vehicle while walking on the turnpike. He often drove the ambulance in those situations because of his good sense of direction and calm demeanor.

“He learned to suck it up sometimes,” said Sam Flora, who was Mangino’s partner on the turnpike. “The bottom line is it built character.”

Those days spent balancing family, work, coaching football and attending school forged a work ethic that shaped Mangino as a coach. The same guy who would study for tests, peek at snippets of game film and take power naps during his graveyard shift now works long hours each day as a coach. He is so exacting that some on his staff grumble about his demanding style, although such complaints are not made publicly.
His admirers say the hefty, balding man known as Bear — the same nickname his father had — is a product of where he came from. Born and raised in New Castle, a working class town of 25,000 in western Pennsylvania, Mangino lived in a predominantly Italian-Catholic neighborhood surrounded by family.

In junior high, he worked in his uncle’s corner grocery store stocking shelves
At New Castle High School, Mangino was a 5-foot-9, 230-pound defensive tackle.
His coach there, Lindy Lauro, refers to Mangino as “my own son.” As a senior, Mangino played a significant role on a team that won a Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League championship.

He was a defensive stalwart,” said his former teammate Rick Razzano, who played for the Cincinnati Bengals. “He was very aggressive.”

Mangino’s path diverted from football soon after. He still regrets not playing at Youngstown State after graduating from high school in 1974. He worked as a custodian the next summer and dropped out of college in 1976.

I didn’t take college real seriously,” he said.

But even while Mangino played for a local traveling baseball team, he was determined to get back to playing football.

I certainly missed it,” he said. “I learned if you make a bad decision in life and you want to get it corrected, it’s a hard, tough road to do that. You have to be willing to pay the price to do it. I made up my mind at that time that I was going to pay the price and do what it took to be a college football coach.”

While working nights on the turnpike, Mangino returned to football. He started in 1980 at a junior high and then became an assistant coach at New Castle High.
Mangino decided to finish his bachelor’s degree, so he went back to Youngstown State and worked as an assistant coach to pay for school. He juggled school, a wife and two children, and work before graduating in 1987.

He had a passion,” Tressel said. “He was not going to be denied. He was going to grind it out until good things happened.”

At the age of 31, Mangino took a job as an offensive coordinator at Geneva (Pa.) College. In 1990, he had his first high school head coaching job, at Ellwood (Pa.) High School, but was fired after one year, a 1-9 season in which he clashed with the parents of his players.

Eager to return to college football, Mangino called his former high school teammate John Latina, then an offensive line coach at Kansas State, and asked if Latina could help him become a graduate assistant with the Wildcats.

Flora still remembers the day that Mangino told him he was going to Kansas State.
The two car-pooled to work and Flora had just picked him up when Mangino said, “I’m taking a shot.”

At 35, Mangino packed his family and belongings into a Ryder truck and moved 975 miles to Manhattan, Kan., with only $500 in his pocket for a job that paid less than $1,000 monthly.

There, Mangino and his family lived briefly in Latina’s basement. It did not take long, however, to make an impression on the demanding Kansas State coach, Bill Snyder.

“He had a fun time doing what he did,” Snyder said in a telephone interview.
Mangino fit in well, from quickly becoming Snyder’s most trusted aide to dominating lunch-time racquetball matches with Bob Stoops, then a Kansas State assistant.
“He’d smoke him,” said Brent Venables, Oklahoma’s co-defensive coordinator, who was also on that Kansas State staff. “He was quick on his feet for a big fellow.”
Venables described Mangino as affable, but acknowledged that he could be intense. That was demonstrated when Mangino dressed down a player for a celebration penalty earlier this season. The profanity-laced tirade became part of YouTube lore.
“He’s almost bipolar,” Venables said of Mangino. “He’s really funny, but when it comes to football, he’s extremely organized, detail-oriented and very intense. Off the field, he’s like a gentle giant.”

Stoops grew up 30 miles from Mangino and sees his personality as a reflection of the area where they were reared.

“It’s just a blue-collar, earn-what-you-get, tough attitude that you go to work with every day,” Stoops said.

Stoops hired Mangino on his staff at Oklahoma after getting the head job there in late 1998. In 2000, Mangino was promoted to offensive coordinator and the Sooners won the national title. That season, he received the Frank Broyles Award as the top assistant coach in college football.

“Don’t forget to send a telegram to the Ellwood City school board and thank them for having let you go,” Lauro wrote in a note to Mangino that accompanied a congratulatory bottle of Champagne.

Mangino would remain at Oklahoma one more season before being hired by Kansas in December 2001. Al Bohl, the former Kansas athletic director who hired Mangino, was also the first to give head coaching jobs to Alabama Coach Nick Saban, Missouri Coach Gary Pinkel and Fresno State Coach Pat Hill.

Mangino went 2-10 his first season, and while the team made progress and played in two bowl games by the end of 2005, those accomplishments were dwarfed by the Kansas basketball program.

After going 6-6 last season and failing to make a bowl game, Mangino started this season with questions about his job security. Thanks in part to a soft out-of-conference schedule that allowed the Jayhawks to build confidence, Mangino and his $1.5 million salary now look like a bargain instead of just another Kansas coach struggling for mediocrity.

Mangino, who has a career record of 36-35, said he was content at Kansas, which will open a $31 million football complex in July. “I never say never, but I’m not out looking for a job,” he said.

As interest has built in the Jayhawks this season, the one topic that Mangino has deftly avoided is his weight.

Mangino said he was not bothered by such talk, despite being the target of snide T-shirts that say “Our Coach Beat Anorexia” and “Our Coach Can Eat Your Coach.” Mangino said he rode a stationary bicycle once or twice a week and said he should do so more frequently.

“Everybody has flaws,” Mangino said of his weight. “Some are more obvious than others. Some people do a good job hiding their flaws and can fool people.”
Kansas Athletic Director Lew Perkins said Mangino’s weight was “a very, very personal thing.”

“I don’t look at his size or anything as a flaw,” Perkins said. “I just look at him as a person.”

As he has come to the forefront of his profession, Mangino has not forgotten his past. On Thanksgiving, he sent an e-mail to Flora, who said Mangino was more concerned about the guys at the turnpike than football.

They will be tuned in Saturday, as many others will be across the country, amazed at just how far Mark Mangino has come.

“It was like a guardian angel followed him all the way through this,” Flora
Pete Thamel contributed reporting.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Five Good Questions with Bill Koch about Brian Kelly and the Michigan job

Today's Five Good Questions is with Cincinnati Enquirer college football beat writer Bill Koch.....Bill covers the Cincinnati Bearcats.....and there is talk around college football that current Bearcat head football coach Brian Kelly may be a darkhorse for the Michigan is what Bill thinks about that situation.....

Q1. First off, what is the talk around the Cincinnati football program about Brian Kelly being a candidate for the head coaching job at Michigan?
A. There's not that much talk around UC about Kelly leaving for Michigan. He has done his best to downplay such talk and I don't think there are a lot of people here who at this point are taking it that seriously.

Q2. What type of person is Kelly? Is he personable and able to "talk the talk" among alumni and big-time donors?
A. Kelly has been a great salesman for the UC program, probably the best they've ever had. He's willing to do whatever it takes to get the message out and he has a personality that people seem to gravitate to.

Q3. Everyone knows that Kelly is an offensive-minded type of coach. Is he a "player's coach?" Is he a disciplinarian? Describe him a bit.
A. The players love him because he's so demanding on the field and they like the results they've gotten from doing things his way. They have a lot of confidence that if they do what he tells them to do, they will win.

Q4. What are his strengths and weaknesses as a head coach?
A. Because he's been a head coach for so long he's very confident in how he does his job. That confidence rubs off on his players and staff. I don't know of any obvious weaknesses that I've seen.

Q5. Overall, do you think he has the ability to be a head coach at Michigan or another big-time football program? And why or why not?
A. He's the kind of coach who would succeed where ever he coached for many of the reasons I listed above. He's known as an offensive coach, but he doesn't ignore defense and special teams. He's great with the media and the fan base. I don't know how good he is as a recruiter yet because he's had only one class and that was done in a hurry after he got the job here last December.

I want to thank Bill for his time, it is much appreciated....

Monday, November 26, 2007

Five Good Questions with . . . Pat Dooley of the Gainesville Sun about Urban Meyer

After a long hiatus, the "Five Good Questions with . . . " segment is’s edition is with Gainesville (Fla) Sun sports columnist Pat Dooley and his thoughts about Florida head coach Urban Meyer and the Michigan football job.....

Q1. First off, is there any truth that Meyer has it written in his contract that he can leave Florida for one of three head coaching jobs - Michigan,Ohio State or Notre Dame? Please clarify this.
A. Not true. That was in his Utah contract. Florida doesn't put that kind of stuff in contracts.

Q2. Has there been any talk about Meyer and the Michigan job?
A. Not really. Urban realizes he has it pretty good here. Kids love their school and the recruiting base is strong.

Q3. Do you ever see Meyer leaving Florida? If so, what would it take for Meyer to leave Florida?
A. Ohio State is the only possibility and that job is not opening soon. Even then, he turned down Notre Dame. I think he's here for a long time.

Q4. What is the talk in SEC Country about Les Miles and the possibility of him being the next Michigan head coach? Your thoughts about Miles?
A. Inherited a great situation, made some bone-headed calls that paid off. I've never been a big fan of his coaching but he's as dull as Lloyd Carr so he'd be a good fit.

Q5. What are your thoughts about who will be the next head coach at Michigan?
A. I really believe it's going to be a surprise. Maybe Bobby Petrino or someone like that.

I want to thank Pat for his is much appreciated....