Except for the money–the world’s worst job must be that of a football coach. If a coach has a loosing season, he can pack his bags. If he has a winning season, with more wins than losses, that’s not good enough, he has to win the championship. If he wins the national championship one year, he has to repeat or he is a failure.
Except for the money–it’s a miserable job. On the other hand, in most states, the football coach at the state university is the highest paid state employee. I admit that sometimes when I see budget cuts in education, I resent the coaches salaries. But then they remind me that athletics brings in millions to the university. Of course, most of that money goes back into the athletic program.
But mainly I’m willing to live and let live when it comes to how people choose to spend their money. I enjoy watching a good game once in a while. My wife and I have been fans of Jayhawks basketball for thirty years. When we moved into Kansas State territory, at first it was easy to split my loyalties. K-state had not had a viable basketball program for years, but they did have a football team; so I could cheer for the Jawhawks during basketball season and the Wildcats during football season. Lauren, the registrar at our college called me a Jaycat.
Then it got complicated. For a season or two it looked like the wildcats were going to have a competitive basketball program and KU brought in a new football coach–Mark Mangino, whose presence on the sidelines was unmistakable.
I remember back twenty years ago when the football programs at both teams were pitiful. I called their annual meeting the toilet bowl. I remember hearing a joke–that Kansas and Nebraska were going to merge. Nebraska would get all that wheat and Kansas would get a football team.
All those jokes faded, along with jokes about the new coach’s girth, when, miracle of miracles KU began to have a winning football program. Two years ago coach Mangino was on top of the world when his team won the Orange Bowl. It would have been a perfect season had not the team not been bushwhacked in a border war with the perfidious Missouri tigers.
But this year as a mediocre season drew to a close rumors about the coach started to surface. Internal investigations were being conducted.
Meanwhile it was time for the final game of the season, against Missouri. It was an exciting game and with two minutes left the Jayhawks held the lead. Then the coach called a series of bonehead plays. The end result was an inglorious defeat and it was time for coach Mangino to pack his bags.
I felt sorry for him–except for all those millions he will take with him. If it had been me, I think I could take the money and run. I could live in relative seclusion and enjoy life with my family. But I don’t think a person willing to live out one’s life in relative obscurity has the kind of drive and ambition it takes to be a winning coach.