Coaching: Mangino and HaleyDecember 1st, 2009 by Lee Eldridge
It’s an interesting trend. Team hires coach. He’s a nice guy. Hired to bring a disgruntled and fractured team back together. Eventually, like most coaches, he’s fired. Team hires a mean guy to instill discipline. Eventually, like most coaches, he’s fired. Team looks for nice guy to replace him. Few coaches ever get to leave on their own terms.
University of Kansas
Terry Allen by all accounts was a nice guy. He was very successful as the head coach at Northern Iowa. He came to Kansas and compiled a record of 20-33. He was fired. Mark Mangino was hired to instill discipline at Kansas. A new mentality. Recruit better players. And to make Kansas winners.
Guess what? Mangino did exactly what was asked of him. He turned around Kansas football. He instilled discipline. He recruited better players. He won football games. Heck, he went 12-1 and won the Orange Bowl in 2007.
So what happened? Or maybe the better question is, what changed?
Talent. This KU team did not have enough talent. And they lost seven straight games because of it. Not enough talent along the offensive line to open up running lanes for Jake Sharp or protect Todd Reesing. And certainly not enough talent on defense. In particular, the Jayhawks had nothing at linebacker. In 2007, KU had a great group of senior linebackers with Joe Mortensen, James Holt and Mark Rivera. And in 2005, KU featured senior linebackers Banks Floodman, Nick Reid, Kevin Kane and Brandon Perkins. This defense was void of playmakers. Especially at linebacker.
When Mark Mangino gets fired, and it will happen soon, he will get fired because of a lack of talent. Lew Perkins and KU were willing to put up with Mangino’s bully tactics while he was winning. But these same bully tactics wear thin when you start losing.
So does KU hire a nice guy next?
Kansas City Chiefs
Herm Edwards by all accounts was a nice guy. And a lot of what happened in Kansas City wasn’t his fault. He inherited an aging team from Dick Vermeil. The Chiefs had done a particularly bad job of drafting and developing young players. The cupboard was bare of young talent. Yet Herm was asked to “fix” the defense, keep the offense, and keep the Chiefs rolling. He couldn’t. Then he was asked to rebuild. And time ran out. Todd Haley was hired to instill discipline and turn around the Chiefs.
It’s interesting that just a couple weeks ago I was hearing stories about how Haley had already “lost” this team with his bully tactics. Some in the media were already speculating that Haley would be one-and-done. But then the Chiefs beat the Steelers. And I think they’ll still find a couple wins down the stretch and finish 5-11 or possibly 6-10.
Will Haley be successful and turn around the Chiefs? I have no idea. I do believe that he was a good choice. But ultimately, Haley’s success will have as much to do with Scott Pioli’s ability to acquire talent (the “right 53”) as it will Haley’s ability to lead the team.
People compare Haley’s approach to Bill Parcells, but he reminds me more of Tom Coughlin. I remember a couple years ago how disgruntled the Giant’s players were with Coughlin’s tough approach. The New York media were ready to ride him out of town. He was on the hot seat. This was midway through the 2007 season when the team was stumbling. Then things started to click. They started winning, and upset the Patriots to win the Super Bowl. Players no longer seem to grumble about Coughlin’s tough approach.
I will predict this: Someday, Todd Haley will be fired. And then the Chiefs will look for a nice guy to replace him.