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Sports & Recreation

Best Coach 

Mark Mangino

Kansas Jayhawks football was like the stoner kid toking in his parent's basement — the slacker in the Big 12 cellar. Until last year. After five seasons and a 25-35 record, KU coach Mark Mangino needed to win and win big. The schedule looked favorable: no Texas, no Oklahoma and a nonconference slate of patsies. Good coaches win the games they're supposed to, stay poised in close ones and pull off upsets. Mangino nearly did it all in 2007. The Jayhawks crushed the patsies, won the squeakers and gutted out the tough games. Slowly, the team crawled up the polls after road wins at Kansas State, Colorado and Texas A&M. Then the Jayhawks made a statement — running up 76 points on a mediocre Nebraska team. They rolled to a spotless 11-0 record heading into the Border Showdown with fourth-ranked Missouri. They fell to the Tigers but benefited from the loss: Missouri lost in the Big 12 title game to Oklahoma, and Kansas received a better bowl bid than the Tigers, punching a ticket to the Orange Bowl, where the Jayhawks squeezed out a 24-21 win against Virginia Tech. Mangino had brought his team up from the cellar.

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