Ex-players: Coach said 'hurtful' things

Updated: November 20, 2009, 3:41 PM ET
By Joe Schad | ESPN.com

Former Kansas football players are speaking out about an investigation into allegations coach Mark Mangino has verbally abused or had inappropriate physical contact with players.

Former Jayhawks linebacker Mike Rivera, who plays for the Tennessee Titans, said Wednesday night he could not speak about the allegations. He plans to have a formal interview on the matter with representatives from Kansas in the next few days.

But six of Rivera's former teammates said they were not surprised by the investigation launched by athletic director Lew Perkins. Some relayed personal experiences with Mangino. And a player formerly coached by Mangino at Kansas State told ESPN's Shelley Smith that he had a run-in with him in 1996, when Mangino was the Wildcats' running backs coach.

Former Kansas wide receiver Raymond Brown, a senior last season, said Mangino would often "say personal, hurtful, embarrassing things in front of people."

[+] EnlargeMark Mangino
Peter G. Aiken/Getty ImagesMark Mangino's methods are being investigated by Kansas.

Brown cited two examples. He said that once, his younger brother had been shot in the arm in St. Louis. Then came a game.

"I dropped a pass and [Mangino] was mad," Brown said. "And I said, 'Yes, sir. Yes, sir.' The yelling didn't bother me. But then he said, 'Shut up!' He said, 'If you don't shut up, I'm going to send you back to St. Louis so you can get shot with your homies.' I was irate. I wanted to hurt him, to be honest with you."

Brown said another teammate had confided in the team that his father was an alcoholic and the player dreamed of becoming a lawyer.

"One day, [Mangino] said in front of the entire team, 'Are you going to be a lawyer or do you want to become an alcoholic like your dad?' " Brown said.

Said former Kansas wide receiver Marcus Herford, also a senior last season: "I remember that. Very vividly. [Mangino] would take your personal business and he would attack you with it. There's nothing wrong with being a disciplinarian. But there is a way to handle your players and keep them motivated. His way was to demotivate you and make you feel as low as you can go."

Herford said he was not surprised by the allegation Mangino had poked senior linebacker Arist Wright in the chest at a walk-through prior to the Oct. 17 Colorado game.

"I remember one time he grabbed [former offensive lineman] Anthony Collins and Anthony threw his arm down," Herford said. "I mean, to put your hands on another man? There is no reason to ever do that. And Anthony was very angry. Mangino was screaming. And Anthony was like, 'You're not going to do me like that.' "

Said Brown: "I don't know if poking and grabbing is physical abuse. Sometimes Mangino maybe goes over the edge. I have seen him run up to a player and push a player. Sometimes he gets in your face and you feel like, 'OK, now you're in my bubble.'"

Former Kansas linebacker Joe Mortensen, who was a captain on last year's team, said "[Mangino] was ruthless, to be honest with you."

"What goes around, comes around," Mortensen said. "We were afraid if we said something he would hurt us with the [pro] scouts. But these incidents were day after day after day for years. And now it's finally coming out."

Mortensen said Mangino told him he had been a bad friend to someone who had died. And that Mangino would repeatedly bring up his public intoxication citation.

"He told me he'd send me back to Oakland where I could be drinking out of a brown paper bag," Mortensen said. "He told me, 'You were a s---- friend to someone I knew that passed away.' He called me a bum. He showed me no respect. He told me he'd send me back to the ghetto. I'm not a victim. I'm a grown man. I never let Mangino get to me. But you know what? I'm not bitter. I loved KU and I never let him break me."

Said former Kansas running back Jocques Crawford, who played one season before transferring to Tennessee Tech: "Every other day, he'd get in somebody's face and be pushing them on the shoulder pads. He tried to provoke us to get us to snap. His whole motto was to 'break you down to build you up.' One time I felt he'd gone too far with Mike [Rivera.]"

Crawford said he left, in part, because, "I felt disgraced by my coach."

"At halftime, he could pick out players one by one and talk about their flaws," Crawford said. "He got to me and he says, 'We have a guy on the team that says he's going to rush for 2,000 yards and he's not shown me s---. After I arrived, players told me, 'You have two weeks until you see the real Mangino come out.' Some of the things he would say or do were totally outrageous."

"He'd say things like, 'I'll send you back to the street corner where you came from,' " Herford said.

"He'd say, 'This is Kansas, you're not back home,' " Crawford said. "He'd say, 'You're not back with your homies. If you're not careful you'll be watching the game in the stands with your homies. You'll be back in that neighborhood.' "

Former Kansas defensive lineman Russell Brorsen said that though he's "not surprised that people are coming out of the woodwork now," he believes Mangino is a "hard-nosed, demanding, disciplinarian."

"I'm not going to deny that some of those things didn't happen," Brorsen said. "But I think part of the problem here is you have four or five years worth of stuff hitting the fan within a period of three or four days. I think [Mangino] could get pretty intense. And I think there was swearing. But my personal opinion is it's not much worse than what you would get at another university."

Said Herford: "Everything the players have been going through, for years, in my opinion, has been covered up by the winning. If somebody was to bring it up, they would have said, 'Well, it's working, because you're winning.' We've seen this all along. His coaching style has never been accepted by his players. It's just now, it's blowing up."

Tory Bradley was a freshman running back at Kansas State in 1996 when Mangino was the running backs coach there. He told ESPN that he had a run-in with Mangino at the Cotton Bowl, where K-State was getting ready to play BYU.

Bradley said he fell asleep in a meeting and woke up on the floor. His teammates told him Mangino pushed him out of his chair. While he was down and attempting to get up, he says, Mangino "kicked me three or four times in my butt. When I got up he started shaking me real hard."

Bradley said his parents called Mangino and were considering filing a lawsuit when they learned about the incident. Bradley left Kansas State and said he was told by Mangino and head coach Bill Snyder that if he kept it "hush-hush," they would give him an unconditional release so he could transfer to Missouri, which he did.

"Mark Mangino is the reason I left K-State," Bradley said.

He said is speaking out now because "a lot of people are now speaking out about him. I'm sure it's happened to a lot of people."

As the investigation continues, Mangino told reporters Wednesday night that he expects to coach against No. 2 Texas on Saturday.

"I have not done anything that's inappropriate," Mangino said. "I have been in this conference for nearly 20 years, and what I can tell you is that our coaching intensity does not largely differ from the other Big Eight and Big 12 teams that I have observed. We have handled this program in terms of intensity and holding players accountable the same since 2002 to today. Nothing's changed. Absolutely nothing has changed."

Mortensen said he plans to speak with Perkins. "Mangino should step back and formally apologize to many people," he said. "He should check his attitude. Honestly, I feel he needs help."

Joe Schad is a college football reporter for ESPN.com. Information from ESPN reporter Shelley Smith was used in this report.

Joe Schad

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