Can Beaty ever turn KU around?

By Steve Sell
November 30, 2015

David Beaty was hired as the latest University of Kansas football coach most likely for three reasons.

1) His supposed ability to recruit the state of Texas, which seems to produce enough players to fill half of the Big 12 rosters.

2) He had been on the KU staff in the past and saw first-hand what it took to win in Lawrence. Does anybody remember the 2008 Orange Bowl?

3) He came cheap by today’s standards, as KU didn’t have to get into a bidding war for his services and no coach with a big-time pedigree would want to take on such a massive overhaul.

But after watching the miserable Jayhawk performance in a 45-14 loss to in-state counterpart Kansas State — the word rival can’t be used here since there is no rivalry as there’s no comparisons in the programs — do you really feel good going forward with Beaty as your coach if you’re a KU supporter?

The Jayhawk teams of the last two weeks looked ill-prepared and once the first sign of adversity hit — this time it was punter Matthew Wyman dropping a perfect snap that led to him being tackled near the goal line — this team folded its tents and called it a day. Wyman then had his next punt blocked and returned for a touchdown and the rout was on.

It doesn’t help Beaty that he was hamstrung by a team virtually void of talent and depth, but schematically you sometimes can do things to keep games competitive. You’ve heard of the death penalty for SMU’s program back in the 1980s? KU’s death penalty was enduring the wrecking ball that Turner Gill and Charlie Weis took to the program as both were totally inept and were ill-advised hires that will keep the Jayhawks just hoping to win three games in a season for a long time to come.

But some of Beaty’s in-game decisions Saturday were called into question by TV commentators Tim Brando and former OU star Spencer Tillman. The worst was when freshman quarterback Ryan Willis had led the Jayhawks down the field, only to be replaced on a fourth-down play by the goal line by Keaton Perry, who coming in cold promptly fumbled the ball. Like the commentators pointed out, Willis had the team on the move and suddenly he wasn’t good enough to finish the job? I’m just curious what the play was going to be as Perry has been in the football witness protection program all season. I didn’t even know he existed before that play.

I’ve watched nearly all the KU games this season. What struck me all year was how small the players are. Tabor College of the KCAC had a bigger offensive line and Beaty would have killed for McPherson College punter Chris Linnin or Bethany’s Brett Crome. You can’t tell me you can’t find somebody on campus who played high school football that can’t kick better than that? And remember all those early season field goal misses on what would have been chip shots for even the pedestrian of college kickers?

The TV commentators also pointed out that Beaty probably needs to make some staff changes as with his late hire, he had to go with what he could scrape together. The first would be to hire a new special teams coach, as that was perhaps the weakest area all year. Also, KU’s defense was dead last in all of college football, but it’s hard to stop people when it looks like you’re playing with 11 defensive backs and linebackers.

Beaty surely will be given time to try and get the program to where it’s at least competitive for three quarters of games and not just a half. The KU hierarchy is tired of paying off ex-coaches who must feel like they’re stealing from the school for what the effort they put into it. 

Kansas is nowhere near being competitive with the rest of the Big 12 (how did TCU only win 23-17 over KU?) There’s no overnight fix. It’s going to be a long and mostly painful process and I wish Beaty the best of luck. He’s going to need a lot of it.