Allow me to go on a short rant here, but I think it is needed.
All week on ESPN and espn.com, all I have seen on college football news (aside from Charlie Weis' job status speculation) is continuing updates in the "Mean Mark Mangino" saga. The Kansas University head coach is under fire for, basically, being too mean.
I understand that there is a line between being a fiery coach and going overboard, but I would not necessarily say that grabbing a player, pointing into his chest, and yelling in his face is warrant for physical abuse claims. Sometimes, a coach has to get "in your face" to get the attention and effort that he wants out of you.
If you are not taking a walkthrough before a game seriously, maybe you need to get chewed out a bit. Football is supposed to be fun, but game preperation during a walkthrough should be all business. They are often the biggest mental preperation periods of the week. You can still have fun, even, but chances are that if your coach notices how much fun you are having, then it is too much.
In my high school football days, we had a coach that loved to yell at us and tell us how terrible we were. If we did not run the football well in the game, or even practice, he would rip us apart during offensive line drills. He would say anything and everything to get us mad, to get us into that nasty mindset an offensive lineman needs. And at the end of the day, we knew it wasn't personal. It was a general understanding that when coaches yell and say things on the field, it is not about a personal attack. It is about motivation.
Not many people openly liked our offensive line coach, but everyone would admit that his tactics got the job done in terms of preparing us for physical play. There is nothing that gets you fired up more than your coach getting in your face and yelling "I have no clue why your teammates voted you team captain! The amount of effort you're giving, you don't deserve it!"
I researched the accusations of the players, and there seemed to be a few questionable comments made by Mangino. But I do not buy into the whole "he put his finger on me and said mean things while yelling" complaint. If you are a college football player, you should have developed some type of thick skin to a point. I highly doubt that a player could go his whole career without getting coached by at least one fiery personality, and expect every coach to be "soft."
Legitimate accusations or not, it sounds like a few of the players that have come forward have only done so to get into the spotlight. Their complaints are weak. My eight-year-old brother has put up with getting pointed at and yelled at, and he still loves his coach.
You have to take the hostility as motivation. Mangino took over at Kansas in 2002 when the program was in a deep hole. Five years later, in 2007, he lead them to a 12-1 record and Orange Bowl win. It was the best season in program history.
I don't think he put them back on top by being overly nice.