Jason Bean didn’t need to come back to Kansas. He could have transferred to another school to be the unquestioned number one quarterback. He isn’t likely going to get a shot to be an NFL quarterback, but with the speed he possesses, he could get a shot at the next level as a wide receiver or on special teams as a return man. Nevertheless, Bean chose to come back to Kansas, a place he has called home since 2021.
The sixth-year senior started his career at North Texas before transferring to KU after the Covid season in 2020. Bean was given the chance to be the starter at Kansas at the beginning of the 2021 season and proceeded to start the first nine games for the Jayhawks. This was head coach Lance Leipold’s first year at the helm in Lawrence. As the rebuild was underway at Kansas, Bean’s record as a starter was not good. Leipold gave young quarterback Jalon Daniels the option to pull his redshirt and start on the road against Texas, a decision that would change the program forever.
Kansas would go on to beat Texas in overtime in one of the biggest upsets of the 2021 college football season. Leipold decided to give Daniels, his quarterback of the future, the keys to the car early. The Jayhawks only won two games in the 2021 season, but there was progress made. Bean took it all in stride. He could have seen the writing on the wall with Daniels taking over and bolted after the 2021 season, but he stuck around. It was a good thing, too.
The 2022 season started with a bang. Daniels led Kansas to a 5-0 start, drawing national attention as a potential Heisman Trophy candidate, and it culminated with ESPN’s College Gameday on KU’s campus in Lawrence for a showdown between an undefeated Jayhawks team hosting an undefeated TCU team.
Midway through the second quarter, Daniels went down with a shoulder injury as the Jayhawks fell behind 10-3. Bean was able to come in on the fly and lead Kansas to 21 points in the third quarter, keeping pace with a TCU team that came out firing in the second half as well. Bean finished the game 16 for 24, 262 yards passing and four touchdowns, essentially in one half, against a top 10 team in the country. A team that ended up playing in the National Championship at the end of the season. That was one incredible effort and performance from Bean after coming off the bench.
Bean would start for Kansas over the next month of the season while Daniels recovered, only winning one game during that stretch, but it was a critical win to get Kansas to bowl eligibility status for the first time since 2007. When Daniels was able to come back from his injury, the starting job was his again. However, the Jayhawks didn’t win another game down the stretch. Bean was honored at senior day but only played a handful of snaps. When Daniels was in, Bean would occasionally play as a decoy or get a touch here and there but was never a big part of the game plan. It culminated in a missed two-point conversion attempt in a two-point loss to the Arkansas Razorbacks in the Liberty Bowl. Bean took the pitch from Daniels and
overthrew an open man in the back of the end zone and the Jayhawks fell just short of their first
winning season since 2008.
Fast forward to the 2023 season. Bean decides to make a super-senior season happen at KU. Daniels, who allegedly had been dealing with a back issue for most of the summer, wasn’t able to start Week 1 against Missouri State. Bean calmly fills in and leads the Jayhawks to victory. Daniels returns to the starting role the following week, but then after a few starts, the back issue pops up again the morning of the Texas game. Once again, Bean steps in, this time in a very tough spot, on the road against a Top 10 Texas team.
While many people, myself included, were disappointed with that Texas game, Bean did what he could when thrust into a tough spot like he’s done so many times throughout his career at Kansas. He has started every game since and has once again led the Jayhawks to six wins and bowl eligibility. There was no bigger win than the 38-33 victory over #6 Oklahoma last weekend. It was the Jayhawks’ first win over a top-10 team at home since 1984. Let that sink in. Bean played a huge role in the comeback win over the Sooners.
Now he will lead his team into Ames, Iowa, ranked in the Top 25 once again, but still in an underdog role. The Iowa State Cyclones are a 2.5-point favorite over the Jayhawks. After a big win over Oklahoma, in a game that many may feel a letdown could happen for Kansas, this team will go in with a chip on their shoulder. They will model their behavior after the quarterback who has led them this far. No, not the guy who was crowned preseason Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year. They will be led by a man named Bean who has been doubted every step of the way since he landed in Lawrence, Kansas. It’s time the haters stop nitpicking the man and appreciate what he has brought to this team and what he’s done for this program. He helped lead the Jayhawks back-to-back bowl-eligible seasons for the first time in 15 years and has set the team up for a chance to do something special in the final month of the season.
Yes, Daniels will likely take over at starting quarterback again at some point before the end of the season. However, while Bean is leading the way, let’s give him the respect he deserves for what he’s done and the role he’s played on this team over the past couple of seasons. It’s been a fun ride.