Just nine days away from the spring game, this Kansas football team has a much different feel to it. After the horrific Charlie Weis era ended last fall, there seems to be much more energy and new life in Lawrence. New head coach David Beaty, former wide receiver coach at Texas A&M is faced with a very tough task. He has to turn a team around that has gone a combined 14-46 in the past five seasons, into a winner. The previous coaches before Beaty were much bigger names. Coach Turner Gill was a hot name out of Buffalo, and Charlie Weis was a big name from being a successful NFL offensive coordinator. Both were given huge salaries and ended up failing to turn the once successful Kansas football program around. Beaty, who has been a part of some very successful coaching staffs, (including being at KU during two different stints) is doing things differently at KU. He has been the recruiting coordinator at both KU and Texas A&M before and he understands that it takes talent in order to turn things around for this currently dead program. The other major change that Beaty is making is in the offense. Unlike Weis, who attempted to run a pro-style offense, Beaty is adjusting his offense to what has been successful in the Big 12, and is running an air-it-out style of the spread.
From the second Beaty walked through the doors at KU, he has been constantly preaching one phrase that he believes will lead the Jayhawks back into being a successful program: “earn it.” In the introductory press conference, Beaty said, “The foundation of our plans is going to rest squarely on a couple of concepts: Hard work and earning everything.” While it is not uncommon for coaches to talk about how they are going to get kids to work hard, it is another thing to actually go out and earn it, as he believe the new Jayhawks will do. Another new philosophy that Beaty is planning to install into the team is the existence of a strong walk-on program. No matter how impressive of a recruiter Beaty is, Kansas is never going to be the kind of school that is going to get the top talent in the nation. In knowing this, Coach Beaty is using a similar philosophy to that of Bill Snyder. Snyder has established one of the top walk-on programs in the nation, and it has proven to be extremely successful in Manhattan. In taking a similar approach, Coach Beaty said, “We want it to be the most powerful walk-on program in the country. That’s a goal of ours. The margin between a scholarship player and a walk on is razor thin. And sometimes you don’t make the right decision. That’s the reason I think it’s so important to give those kids the opportunity to represent the Jayhawks.” This approach was not one that Weis or Gill looked into, and in the long run, that may have really haunted them as they could not find success at Kansas. Beaty seems to be doing all of the little things that a coach needs to do to turn a program like KU around.
Since Todd Reesing graduated six seasons ago, Kansas has done a terrible job of finding a successful quarterback that can move the ball in a tough conference like the Big 12. Part of the reason why they have struggled is due to the systems that they have been running. Neither Gill nor Weis found a way to adjust to the defense that is played in the Big 12. Weis stubbornly decided to run a pro-style offense that could never work in the Big 12, and it was apparent that recruits did not have any interest in running this form of offense, as Weis never could land any productive quarterbacks that fit his system. Beaty is determined not to make the same mistakes as the previous two coaches. In recognizing the previous recruiting problems at KU, Beaty said, “Our offense is going to attract top recruits and it’s going to be a brand of football that is going to make people want to come to Memorial Stadium.”
As far as defense goes, like the offense, he wants his defense to be an exciting, athletic, and hard hitting style. Beaty also recognizes how difficult it is to win in the Big 12 without winning the turnover margin, and because of this, he wants to install a defense that is committed to making stops and turning the ball over. This is the blueprint to winning games in the Big 12.
Beaty has seen teams have success in the Big 12 and the SEC before, and he knows what it takes to both win, and recruit at a high level. While previous coaches have come from different situations and tried to install what they know, Beaty is from the area and should have no issues recruiting at a high level, which should lead to success. Make no mistake about it, with the situation he has at KU, Beaty is not in a position to succeed right away. Give this process time and be patient, but do not be surprised to see Memorial Stadium in Lawrence have the same kind of energy that it had six seasons ago, because Beaty is the man for the job.