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Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Excitable coaches: Tirades we're still talking about

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

 
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 Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy doesn't have the Big 12's only memorable tirade from last season.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The podium at Big 12's media day was packed Tuesday with some of its most bombastic coaches, a group whose on-field antics have provided some memorable You Tube clips and sports talk radio bites over the last few years.

The mother of all meltdowns was provided by Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy's post-game "I'm a man, I'm 40" ballistic tirade last season at an Oklahoma City sports columnist. But Colorado coach Dan Hawkins eruption about the team's lack of commitment to "Big 12 football" at a media gathering last spring and Kansas coach Mark Mangino's sideline blistering of a punt returner's showboat move also have been unforgettable.

Even a relative newcomer like Kansas State coach Ron Prince has had his moments of madness -- both literally and figuratively -- along the sidelines. His wild stomp after a special-teams touchdown against Texas last season still makes him cringe a little when he watches it. And at a practice last spring, Prince forced his entire offense -- including several coaches -- to run stadium steps after a mistake-filled practice that was open to spectators.

Gundy's angry outburst after beating Texas Tech last season remains one of the conference's seminal moments. He joked Tuesday about some aspects of the controversy, although he expressed some contrition earlier in the summer about the rant.

"I'm not a big computer guy and I've not once in my life been on You Tube," he said. "I'm sure it's out there. Somebody told me I ended up sixth last year on You Tube in the number of hits. I'm guessing that's pretty good."

The Oklahoma State coach finally saw a replay of his rant early this year. He worries more about the fallout than his initial message than what he originally said.

"I've gotten a bad perception. For awhile there, people thought I didn't have a good relationship with the media, which isn't true at all," Gundy said. "I started dealing with the media since I was 15 years old. And for those of you who don't know, I'm 40 now.

"So if you add that up it's been 25 years and I've had only one incident and it wasn't necessarily attacking a media member. If so, I would have said a name. I wasn't trying to embarrass somebody."

Mangino's You Tube moment came last season when he ripped into Raimond Pendleton after he punctuated his 77-yard punt return against Central Michigan by diving into the end zone. Mangino's expletive-laced blistering of his player was caught by a sideline camera and quickly became an internet classic.

"I haven't changed," Mangino said. "I'm who I am and I'm not changing for anybody. This is how I got to where we are and what I am. I'm not changing. My players understand me and I understand them. And that's all that really matters."

Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing saw Mangino's meltdown from only a few feet away.

"It might have been a little bit funny, but the general point he was trying to get across was that it was a great run, but 10 guys had to block to make it happen," Reesing said. "To take the spotlight by diving in the end zone really defeats the whole purpose of guys trying to block."

Mangino has similarly chewed on most of the players on his roster, Reesing said.

"Everybody takes the wrath at some point," Reesing said. "I haven't gotten it too bad. But behind closed doors I got my fair share."

And while that side doesn't emerge from his coach very often, Reesing understands Mangino's competitive nature that sparked his rage.

"He's relaxed during the week and is pretty easy going," Reesing said. "But come game day, he's as competitive as we are and he wants things done a certain way. He wants a program that plays with class. And if something goes wrong that he doesn't like he'll let you know about it."

Prince realizes that his celebration after the big play against Texas was "silly." But he said the competitive nature of coaches is the biggest reason why such emotion spills over.

"You take your team and you work so hard with them," Prince said. "There's a lot of ways to be right in this world. I worked with a lot of stoic guys who did things a certain way. I think you have to be yourself and be your best self.

"I think the stuff that people are doing is that they are just being themselves. This is an emotional game. People want to do well and they are very competitive. And I think that people appreciate people who are themselves and have a little personality. They appreciate characters as much as character."

Hawkins' eruption -- which he and his handlers were careful to emphasize wasn't a rant because he delivered it with a smile on his face -- still showed an enthusiastic side of the coach that tends to bubble over when he is excited.

"I didn't change because it's who I am," he said. "I've always been that way. My parents taught me to do it with a smile on your face and do it the best you can with a little passion for what you are doing. And the day you don't have that passion, you need to get out of it."

Colorado center Daniel Sanders agreed with the tone of Hawkins' sentiments, which blasted an anonymous fan who had written to him complaining about the lack of summer breaks in his program for his athletes.

"I heard about it 20 minutes later and he was right," Sanders said. "College football isn't supposed to be easy and we're supposed to do what he says. He really hasn't changed since then."

In his defense, Sanders said that Hawkins often reports to practice with a similar excitable attitude that some might consider a little over the top but is familiar to his team.

"I've never seen him have a down day," Sanders said. "Every time we're at camp, he'll be excited about practice. He'll tell us we have to find the energy fairy to get through things. We always joke that Coach Hawkins has the energy fairy locked up at his house."