KANSAS CITY--Kathy Zwygart has a mannequin at her tailgate. It is wearing an anti-Missouri t-shirt. The face is a cut-out picture of Kansas coach Mark Mangino.
The 55-year-old Kansas fan from Chicago is an avid Mangino supporter, even after the recent allegations against him. It has been widely reported Mangino is being investigated by the Kansas athletic department for allegations of verbal abuse and poking a player.
Zwygart calls Mangino, “the best thing that’s ever happened to KU.”
“He’s done more for KU than Lew Perkins (KU athletics director), as far as I’m concerned,” Zwygart said.
The homemade signs at Zwygart’s tailgate show her support for Mangino and displeasure with Perkins. One sign declares “Hawk Fan 4 Mangino,” another says, “Mizzou needs Lew.”
Zwygart does not believe the allegations against Mangino are serious.
“If they can’t stand the heat, they need to get out of the kitchen,” she said of any players who would be making the allegations.
Kevin Moore, a Jayhawk fan from Overland Park, Kan., disagrees.
“Physical confrontation with coaches is pretty standard in football,” Moore said. “But I thought the verbal abuse was over the top. He needs his day in court, but if he gets it, and it’s proven he said those things, then you’ve got to go.”
Some Kansas fans wore their Mangino-related gear to Saturday’s game at Arrowhead Stadium, just in case it was the coach’s last game. Michael Northrup, a 23-year-old student at Kansas, wore a “Mangenius” hat.
“I don’t see what the big deal is really,” Northrup said. “I guess some of the complaints were verbal abuse, things like that. That’s just football to me. Players should understand, especially at the college level, 'Hey, coach is going to get in your face.' So they should just really deal with it. I heard he also put hands on one of the players. That’s over the line. But that’s all alleged.”
Northrup said he finds it funny that news of the investigation came out while Kansas was losing.
“I don’t think he should lose his job over it or anything like that,” he said.
Another Kansas student, Brian Gray, wore a “Fighting Manginos,” t-shirt. He bought the shirt a few years ago.
“Just in case it’s his last game, I want to get good wear out of the shirt,” Gray said.
Gray is taking a wait-and-see approach before he decides if he thinks Mangino should lose his job.
“I’ve always been a big fan of Mangino,” he said. “And without knowing the situation, it’s hard to make a call either way on whether he should go or not. But I’m sure they’ll figure the situation out. If he’s done something wrong, he’ll have to go.”
Clint Moore, a Lawrence resident who was not tailgating with Kevin Moore, has mixed feelings about Mangino’s status.
“I’m kind of on the fence,” he said. “I really think they ought to keep him, just because he’s probably one of the best coaches we’ve got, and there’s no other coaches out there that we could bring in that would do as good a job as he has done. But at the same time, with the whole thing going on, I think it could hurt our recruiting. It could hurt some of our current players who are debating on whether to stay or go. But overall, I would really like to see him stay.”