There are many ways to poke someone. There is the "Stay out of my way, punk," poke, the "Multiple finger" poke, and the misunderstood "Facebook" poke. It's unclear what kind of poke Kansas head football coach Mark Mangino used on Jayhawk linebacker Arist Wright earlier this year, but what is clear is it's quickly becoming the "Poke heard 'round the sports world."
At this point it doesn't really matter what is was. Football players and their parents are involved, and past stories are creeping up on Mangino like the boogeyman under an eight-year old's bed. First he cussed out a high school referee during his son's football game, he never got along with former KU basketball coach Roy Williams, and was caught on youtube dropping F-Bombs at a player like they were hot potatoes. An incident where Mangino bereated a KU student who issued him dozens of parking tickets surfaced as well. The funny thing is, despite some of these instances being years apart, they are all surfacing now, in the midst of a five-game losing streak.
It's interesting how many of these stories either never hit the public when they happened, or were swept under the rug and treated like they never happened. When Kansas was 5-0, in a time that seems like years ago, Mangino's angry ways were chalked up to him being a rough and tumble, discipline football coach. Five losses later I keep waiting for Jack Nicholson to show up and try and steal Mangino's wife.
With two games left on the schedule, what is in store for the football Jayhawks? The team hasn't won a game since some players did their best UFC impersonations with some members of the basketball squad. Texas is next on the schedule, and a talented, but underacheiving, Missouri squad looking to embarass KU even more, is the final opponent in 2009. If Mangino loses both, and the situation doesn't get any better, he more than likely is gone.
If his Jayhawks are to somehow upset Texas and defeat Missouri, a fourth-straight bowl bid could even be in the picture. Images of a smiling Mangino will then be shown on the sideline, and the complaints will seem like distant whispers.
Winning breeds happiness, and losing, well, apparently it breeds poking.