Bob Lutz

For now, chatter surmounts facts

We know just enough about the situation at Kansas concerning football coach Mark Mangino to make us dangerous.

Rumors are rampant but details are thin. What we know is that athletic director Lew Perkins met with KU players Monday about Mangino's treatment of them, then talked to Mangino for 10 to 15 minutes later Monday.

A formal panel is apparently being formed to address the allegations, whatever they are. Quarterback Todd Reesing said players were told by Perkins the panel would be unbiased.

What's going on?

A five-game losing streak is what's going on. KU is trying to raise money for bigger and better football facilities, is what's going on. Perkins has a shorter leash for his football coach than he had five weeks ago, is what's going on.

It's being reported that a group of parents of former Kansas players is willing and ready to express their concerns to the formal and unbiased panel.

Shouldn't the parents of former KU players have something better to do? And why aren't the former players, presumably now 23, 24, 25 years old or even older, insisting that their parents stay out of this?

I mean, I have some issues about how my son was treated by his eighth-grade basketball coach. But he's a young man now and I've managed to let those grievances go.

Perhaps the allegations against Mangino have merit; it's too soon to know for sure. Maybe he's a tyrant behind closed doors. He has had a couple of You Tube moments on the sideline during a game, that's for sure.

He's a football coach and, like almost every football coach I've known, he can be passionate.

What's interesting here is that many people are taking the giant leap to assume Mangino is in danger of losing his job; that Perkins is looking for an easy way to dump the coach who has been responsible for breathing life into a Jayhawks program that was lying still on the side of the road when he took over.

Take away these allegations, which may not even rise to the level of allegations, and there is no way anybody is talking about Mangino losing his job even if KU loses its final two games to finish 5-7 after a 5-0 start.

The Jayhawks are just two years removed from a 12-1 season and Orange Bowl victory over Virginia Tech.

It's fair to wonder whether such a ruckus would be made in Lawrence if the Jayhawks were 7-3 or 8-2 instead of 5-5.

Would Perkins have met with players? If so, would he have released a statement concerning the meeting to the media, something Mangino has interpreted as disrespectful judging from his comments during Tuesday's customary news conference.

"You'd have to ask him,'' Mangino told reporters when asked about the motive behind Perkins' release of a statement. "I don't know. We're all trying to get on a winning tract here and we're trying to get the train on the track, so I can't answer for him. That would not be appropriate for me to try and speculate why.''

Who knows what Perkins is up to. It's his job, of course, to take the concerns of KU's student-athletes seriously.

But he had every opportunity Tuesday to calm the waters and didn't do so. Perkins instead issued his statement, confirming there were concerns about Mangino's handling of the football program.

And now KU Nation, at least those who are still paying attention to the football team with the Jayhawks' top-ranked basketball team out of the gates, are in an uproar. Fans are taking sides, even though they're not sure what the sides stand for.

This could be really serious or it could be much ado about nothing. The most disconcerting aspect is the obvious disconnect in communication between Perkins and Mangino, which doesn't bode well for the coach.

Then again, most of what's being said or intimated is of a cryptic nature. There's not much solid evidence.

I suspect it all goes back to the five-game losing streak and the disappointment of a long season that started with so much promise.

This could be a byproduct of what can happen when so many people — players, coaches, administrators — are in bad moods.

It's never enjoyable to lose and Mangino was right when he said Tuesday that losing sheds light on the disgruntled.

Mangino insisted Tuesday that he hasn't lost his team, but left open the possibility that he's lost his support inside the athletic department. Hearing his words, it's obvious he thinks he has been hung out to dry and regardless of what happens from here, the Mangino-Perkins relationship has been at least temporarily damaged.

This is the last thing KU needed as it prepares to go on the road for what looks to be an impossible test at Texas.

Then again, what this is remains a mystery. A lot was said Tuesday, but not much is known. As they say in television, stay tuned.

  Comments