Player development is key to Mangino's success
Mark Mangino knew winning football games at Kansas University would be no easy task when he was hired to take over as the program's coach.Six years later, however, Mangino has the Jayhawks near the top of the college football world. They own a program-best 11-1 record, a top-10 national ranking and are headed to the Orange Bowl.On Tuesday, three Jayhawks were named Associated Press All-Americans. Junior cornerback Aqib Talib and junior left tackle Anthony Collins earned first-team honors and senior defensive tackle James McClinton was tapped for the second team.That, in a nutshell, explains what's different with KU football these days. You can talk about wins, a soft schedule, whatever. Ultimately, it comes down to having playmakers, and the Jayhawks have plenty of them. Certainly this year's team has the most playmakers since 1995, and maybe the most in program history.No Jayhawk had earned AP All-America first-team honors since 1983, and no KU squad ever had three All-Americans prior to this season.It's no secret that talent wins games. Just ask Ohio State, Florida, Florida State, Oklahoma, Texas, USC and any other traditional power.Kansas finally has a piece of that wealth.Of course, the three All-Americans aren't the only playmakers on this team. There's quarterback Todd Reesing, fullback Brandon McAnderson, tailback Jake Sharp, utility player Kerry Meier, the best wide receiver corps in school history : the list goes on and on. The difference today is you can look at just about every position on the roster and say, "That guy is reliable."Mangino has been praised for his coaching ability, his attention-to-detail preparation and for the way he has ingrained discipline into his team. Perhaps his best attributes have been recruiting and player development. He has turned quarterbacks into the best defensive player in the Big 12 (Nick Reid), the best kick returner in the league (Marcus Herford) and the best utility player in the league (Meier). He has snagged diamonds in the rough like Bill Whittemore who put in a lot of the grunt work to get the program headed in the right direction.Now Mangino has a roster with three All-Americans and numerous other playmakers, and he has the program in the top-10.The Jayhawks have come a long way in the past six years. It wasn't easy, but Mangino didn't expect it to be.