If you are new to college football within the last decade, you may find it difficult to comprehend that there once was a season that saw the Kansas Jayhawks play in, and win, the Orange Bowl. Yes, a decade before the crowning achievement for a season was simply beating Texas on the football field, the Jayhawks had a memorable season that fell shy of winning the Big 12 but saw Kansas make a run for a shot at a national championship. The year was 2007, and this year the school will honor that memorable season for Kansas fans. They’ll also invite back the coach that was on the sidelines at the time, despite his removal as head coach years later amid some controversy.
Mark Mangino will be invited to return to Lawrence, Kansas this season for the school’s season opener against Southeast Missouri State. Mangino and the 2007 team, as well as former Jayhawks Aqib Talib and Anthony Collins, have been invited for a Hall of Fame ceremony. In 2007, Kansas went 12-1, with the lone loss coming against border rival Missouri (the Tigers went on to play for the Big 12 championship as a result of the head-to-head win).
Given how Mangino and Kansas parted ways in 2009, Mangino took some time to consider whether or not he should accept an invitation from the school to return for the Hall of Fame ceremony.
“It just came out of the blue and when they called, it caught me off guard. It was hard for me to say no when your players are going to be honored,” Mangino said to Lawrence Journal-World. “I wanted to be there for them. I think it’s the right thing to do.”
From a coaching perspective, the relationship with players can be an everlasting one. The 2007 season was a special year for both Mangino and his players, so wanting to be there to celebrate the success of the 2007 season has to be difficult to turn down.
Mangino most recently coached as an offensive coordinator at Iowa State in 2014 and 2015.