Mangino expects to remain KU's coach

Updated: November 28, 2009, 10:01 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A defiant Mark Mangino insisted he plans to be the coach at Kansas next year, but will have no regrets if he's not.

[+] EnlargeMark Mangino
Jamie Squire/Getty ImagesMark Mangino's future as Kansas coach is uncertain at best. The Jayhawks lost their last seven after starting the season 5-0.

"A friend of mine told me something one time I think is a very good way to go about life," the embattled coach said after Missouri rallied for a 41-39 victory Saturday night. "I'd rather die on my feet than live on my knees."

Two weeks after word leaked that athletic director Lew Perkins had launched an investigation into Mangino's treatment of players, the Jayhawks finally brought an end to a season that began 5-0 but descended into the depths of a bitterly disappointing seven-game losing streak.

The loss means the Jayhawks (5-7, 1-7 Big 12) are not bowl eligible and Mangino is 50-48 in eight years -- two wins shy of the school record for a coach.

When the internal probe might end and what Mangino's fate will be could be learned in the next week.

"I'm confident in my ability. I feel good about everything I've done," Mangino said.

After going 12-1 in 2007 and winning the Orange Bowl, Mangino was given a raise and a contract extension through 2012. If he's fired without cause, the school could be on the hook for about $6.6 million.

Since the probe began, several former players have told stories of insensitive -- some might say cruel -- comments the coach made.

But following that first wave of anti-Mangino sentiment, a gush of pro-Mangino comments were offered by many current and former players and their parents.

Mangino said he's done nothing wrong and that he sees no need to change.

"When I was hired at Kansas they told me they desperately needed structure and discipline in the football program," he said. "The people that hired me said it was the key point. And I've done that the right way and I feel good about it and I'm proud of the way I've dealt with the players in our program."

If the Jayhawks do get rid of Mangino, they'll need to act as soon as possible because an all-important recruiting period begins on Monday.

But has Mangino's ability to recruit already been damaged beyond repair? Stories of verbal abuse told by certain former players are certain to be used against him by the same coaches who have been rallying to his defense. Offsetting vows of loyalty and support by other players may not resonate as much with high school prospects and their mothers and fathers.

Prior to Saturday's game, Mangino told ESPN's Dave Lamont that he has not had discussions with Kansas administrators about the university's investigation.

"We'll get on the road and recruit. I'm very optimistic" about the future, he said.

If Saturday's game was Mangino's last, he will end his time at Kansas two wins shy of the school record, which has stood for 100 years.

"Why don't you ask the decision-makers?" he said when asked whether he thinks he'll be back. "I've been up front, with nothing to hide. Sometimes people ask me questions and I'm not the one who should be answering them."

Many of his top players, such as senior quarterback Todd Reesing and running back Jake Sharp, are adamant in their support.

"I feel very blessed to have him as my coach," Sharp said. "I learned a lot from him. With all this going on, he never wavered. He never came to practice halfway. I have the utmost respect for him and what he's done for this program."

Reesing ended his career holding almost every school passing record. Mangino was one of only two college coaches who offered him a scholarship.

"He's done a lot for this program and I love the guy to death," Reesing said. "What happens is out of my hands."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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