Mark Mangino of Kansas led the Jayhawks to an historic season. To our knowledge (actually, we don't have much knowledge of Kansas football...who really cares about it?), the best in their history.
During a season in which the Big 12 saw their top two spots (up until the end of the season) occupied by traditional doormats, Mangino navigated a modest schedule to put his team in position to play for not just the Big 12 title, but the national title.
A non-conference schedule of Central Michigan, Southeastern Louisiana, Toledo and Florida International got the Jayhawks off to a rousing start. Four straight home wins against four straight cream puffs.
But, in reality, KU scheduled with the Big 12 in mind.
The non-conference poo-poo platter certainly mirrored what lay in wait on their Big 12 schedule. Baylor, Colorado, Iowa State, a morbid Nebraska, a distracted A&M and Oklahoma State. No Oklahoma or Texas.
And, one big game. Missouri. A loss. Fortunately for KU, that game was at the end of the season. If it had been scheduled earlier, or right after KU was done wiping off the stench of the non-conference skunk spray; no one would have even bothered mentioning them for most of the season.
We certainly wouldn't be watching them head to a BCS bowl after finishing SECOND in their own division.
And we wouldn't be watching Mangino wrap his mortadello smelling fingers around a coach of the year plaque.
Instead, we'd be praising the job Sylvester Croom did at Mississippi State.
Faced with challenges in recruiting, budget, facilities and the challenge of being located in Mississippi; Croom led the Bulldogs to a winning season playing in the SEC. The SEC, if you don't know, is trumpeted by the media as the best and most difficult conference in the country.
Victories over Auburn, Alabama and Kentucky certainly trump any wins that Mangino managed in the Big 12. And a non-conference schedule that included uber-talented West Virginia certainly demonstrated MSU's desire to compete against the best college football has to offer. Unlike KU, which is more than happy to run off to a BCS bowl payday after losing to the only team of substance on their otherwise insulting schedule.
By honoring Mangino as the coach of the year, the media is signing off on a philosophy of avoiding challenges. Of avoiding competition.
Yes, we know. College sports are about making money. But, at some level, they are about overcoming challenges and facing competition head on. About being taught that taking the easy way out isn't the preferred avenue.
Bestowing coach of the year honors on Mangino and his half-stepping program is to condone all that is wrong with college football. To affirm Mangino as coach of the year is to accept mediocrity.
We at NOIS can not accept mediocrity. Neither in ourselves, nor in in our coach of the year.
One of the arguments made in the debate about the Heisman winner was that Tim Tebow played in the SEC. His accomplishments came against the best of the best, making them all the more impressive. We heard questions about the schedules faced by fellow finalists Chase Daniel and Colt Brennan. Sure, they had great years, but who was on the other side of the ball.
Then, we watched Sylvester Croom take on a monstrous SEC schedule armed with the recruiting crumbs left after the big boys were done feasting and an infrastructure still in disarray after probation. And we don't collectively acknowledge that what he accomplished took far more leadership, planning and downright coaching than running off 11 straight wins over the Hapless Techs and No Talent States of the college football world?
Clearly, some things just don't change.
A Negro doing a white man's job in the Deep South, and doing it well, is just too threatening in this country to give him his just desserts.
Even the SEC knew that it couldn't deny Croom their coach of the year nod and keep any semblance of credibility.
So, as Mangino dines on bracioline ripiene alla Siciliana and gazes over at his coach of the year award:
Know that the collards and fried chicken on Brother Sly's table taste extra good today.
We know it.
He knows it.
Coach of the Year.