Mangino returns to Oklahoma as an "enemy"

Friday, October 22nd 2004, 6:19 am
By: News On 6

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) _ For at least a week, Mark Mangino figures to see less Oklahoma postmarks on his fan mail.

The coach who launched his career as part of the coaching staff for the Sooners' 2000 national championship, will return to the Gaylord Family/Oklahoma Memorial Stadium for the first time in three years Saturday, but it won't be as a friend. It'll be as coach of the Sooners' opponent, Kansas.

``When I left to come here I experienced something I have never experienced,'' Mangino said. ``OU fans would write or call or stop me and thank me for my contributions.

``They appreciate my contributions but as far as they see it now, I am the enemy.''

It's a story that actually has roots many years back, when Mangino's high school team was about to scrimmage against another one coached by a man named Stoops. As he talked to the man before the game, he remembers the coach complaining that his defense wasn't all that good. He'd soon find out what standards the judgment was based upon.

``I don't think we got passed the 30 yard line,'' Mangino said.

That scrimmage against Ron Stoops, father of Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, was the first of many links that would be made between the two families.

Years later, Mangino and Bob Stoops would coach on the Bill Snyder's staff at Kansas State and Mangino would eventually become Stoops' offensive coordinator at Oklahoma.

``Mark and I have been together a long time ...,'' Stoops said. ``We have a strong relationship that's been built through a long number of years and a lot of experiences.''

The relationship between Stoops and Mangino doesn't figure to change over one game, but Mangino could soon become enemy No. 1 in the hearts of Sooners fans if his Jayhawks (3-3, 1-2 Big 12) can pull off an upset.

A win over the second-ranked Sooners (6-0, 3-0) would mark the biggest win in Mangino's tenure at Kansas, where he inherited a downtrodden program and took it to its first bowl game in eight years last season.

Stoops knows what's at stake.

``Once you go out on the field, it isn't Mark and I. It's programs,'' Stoops said. ``It's KU versus Oklahoma and that's it. You go to work and that's how I look at it really. It's all business.''

Kansas comes into Norman following its first win against in-state rival Kansas State in 12 years and with a bye week to prepare for the Sooners.

Quarterback Jason White, who had Mangino as his coordinator for his first two seasons at Oklahoma, said he's expecting the Jayhawks' best effort.

``He's a motivator,'' White said. ``I know his team will be ready to play and I'm looking forward to the competition.''

White said he remembers Mangino as ``intense'' coach who knew how to get his point across to players.

``He'd coach you,'' White said. ``He wasn't a coach who'd sit back and not be a coach. He'd get in your face, tell you what you were doing wrong and help you correct it.''

Kansas linebacker Gabe Toomey, who spent his freshman season at Oklahoma, said he's noticed similarities between Mangino's practices and the ones at Oklahoma.

``You are always going and moving from one place to another,'' he said.

The teams will also have some of the same plays _ ones Oklahoma kept even after Mangino left. The difference will be personnel.

Along with White, the returning Heisman Trophy winner, the Sooners feature running back Adrian Peterson, a freshman who's gained national attention as the No. 5 rusher in the country.

``He is a heck of a runner,'' Kansas linebacker Banks Floodman said. ``We are going to have to swarm him. We have to keep our feet and run through tackles. He is the package.''

Kansas counters with tailback John Randle, who's had the best two games of his career with back-to-back 105-yard performances against Nebraska and Kansas State. Randle's 43-yard run in the fourth quarter helped clinch the win against the Wildcats.

Randle's success could be crucial to the Jayhawks' chances of making the game a memorable one.

``We are looking forward to this challenge,'' Mangino said. ``I have told our players that the majority of them will only get one opportunity to play in Norman. So we have told them to make it a game that they can tell their kids and grandkids about.''