BEREA, Ohio – Once the game’s over, Cleveland Coach Eric Mangini and New England Coach Bill Belichick will meet somewhere near the 50-yard line and face yet another of those painfully awkward moments with the whole football world watching.

That’s when they’ll have to shake hands, and Mangini already knows what’s coming.

“I’m sure it will be one that’s firm, brisk. You know, textbook,” Mangini joked Wednesday. “I’m sure we’ll be talking about it for years to come.”

The rocky relationship between Mangini and Belichick — former friends, student and mentor — has been one of the NFL’s spiciest story lines for some time. Their rift, precipitated by Mangini’s departure in 2006 from Belichick’s staff in New England to coach in New York and deepened by Mangini’s accusations of cheating in the infamous “Spygate” affair, has become legendary — or laughable, depending on your take.

On Sunday, their public and personal feud will be renewed when Mangini leads the Browns (2-5) against Belichick and the Patriots (6-1). It will be their first meeting since Mangini took over as coach in Cleveland, where he got his start in 1995 when Belichick plucked him from the Browns’ public relations department and made him a low-level assistant.

Mangini still speaks fondly of Belichick. On the other hand, Belichick avoids anything warm and fuzzy.

During a conference call with Cleveland reporters, Belichick was asked at least five questions about his past, present and future with Mangini. Each time Belichick turned the discussion in another direction.

“We’re both coaching teams that are going to play on Sunday,” he said. “We’re both going to put a lot into this week and try and win on Sunday.”

Not once did Belichick say Mangini’s first name.

Mangini spent a decade working under and alongside Belichick. They were together one season in Cleveland, three in New York and six in New England before Mangini was hired by the Jets in ’06. Those years shaped Mangini into a tough-minded, no-nonsense coach cut straight from the Belichick mold.

In summarizing his “tremendous influence,” Mangini complimented Belichick’s well-rounded knowledge, work ethic and unmatched attention to detail.

“He’s arguably one of the best, if not the best coach in the league,” said Mangini, who added his relationship with Belichick has not changed in four years.

So where did it all go wrong?

Mangini’s decision to join the Jets, New England’s bitter AFC East rival, rankled Belichick, who felt betrayed by one of his coaching disciples.

Then, in ’07, Mangini allegedly turned in Belichick for having a Patriots aide videotape Jets defensive signals in the season opener. Belichick was eventually fined $500,000 by the league and the Patriots were penalized $250,000 and had to forfeit a first-round draft pick because of the incident.

Can they be friends again?

“I’d say never say never,” said Mangini. “Obviously, he was very important to me and I respect him.

“He was very important to my family and all those things, but we’ll see. Time will tell. I think everything takes care of itself over time.”