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Transcript from Tuesday's Chat with Tom Keegan

This chat will begin at 1 p.m. on December 13, 2016

Tom Keegan

Transcript from Tuesday's chat Journal-World sports editor Tom Keegan during which he answered questions about David Beaty's contract extension and Kansas basketball.

Moderator

Good afternoon KU fans and welcome to today's chat with Tom Keegan... We're going to be talking a lot of David Beaty contract extension and a little KU basketball.

So let's dive right in with a question about Beaty's two-year extension and $800,000 raise.

bb73

Does the extension signal the possibility that there have been conversations between Beaty & Zenger regarding Beaty taking on too much coaching duties (punt returns) while giving the OC job back to Likens or a new hire at OC?

Tom Keegan

I don't think it signals that. I think it's independent of any such suggestions. I like the idea of Beaty turning over the offense to either Rob Likens or Jason Phillips, or hiring an Air Raid OC from outside the program, but am not convinced it will happen.

doolindalton

Beaty has a record of 2-22 but gets a two year extension at twice the money. Why? Has there ever been a coach in the history of NCAA football who has been so richly rewarded with that kind of record?

Tom Keegan

I'll answer your second question first: I doubt it. I'll also answer that one with another question: Has there ever been a Power Five coach who inherited such a mess in terms of scholarships, losing tradition, high turnover, etc.? As for why the extension and twice the money: The Big 12 pays, I believe it's $30 million a year from the football TV deal. For Kansas to turn around pocket the money and pay its football coach $800,000 when there have been legitimate signs of progress would make Kansas look like it doesn't care one bit about football and is happy being a basketball school. Don't think opposing coaches weren't using that against KU in recruiting. That and the high turnover of coaches: "Don't sign with Kansas. They don't care about football and their coach is going to get fired anyway."

hawkster007

Will Clint Bowen (and other asst. coaches) get a substantial raise also, the last I knew Bowen was making $400k per year? I think Bowen's defense has been far better than Beaty's head coaching and offense.

Tom Keegan

We're researching that and hope to have an answer by the end of the chat. He makes more than $400K per year now.

hawkster007

What will happen with Rob Likens next season and why isn't Beaty being held accountable for his decision to hire him and then pay him $350k per year - - after he has been effectively stripped of any meaningful responsibilities and input? That is $350k of completely wasted $$ by Beaty in the football budget. Likens will be in the 3rd and final year of his contract (he made $125,000 at Cal as receivers coach before that) and I don't expect him to resign with that guaranteed salary, and I don't see him getting a better offer since he has been demoted by Beaty.

Tom Keegan

I'm not sure what you mean by held accountable? Do you mean fired? Do you mean criticized? I criticized Beaty for taking over OC duties, instead of communicating to Likens what type of offense he wanted, the way Mangino did to Warinner, and then letting Likens teach it. At the moment, Likens remains on the staff and might even through next season. Likens is the ultimate team player, which doesn't mean he's worth $1.05 million over three years, but unlike some who might become toxic when demoted, he remains a team player. If Phillips became OC, which I have not heard is a possibility, Likens would fit smoothly into WR role.

ViperBlue

Who do you think will be calling the pays next season?

Tom Keegan

That's the $64 million question and I don't have $64 million so I don't know the answer. I did find it interesting that after Beaty said at a press conference a few games into the season that he would be backing off in some areas but did not get specific, I did not see him reaching into his pocket nearly as often for his play card. I think someobody, or a combination of somebodies, took over some of the play-calling. Never found out the identity or identities. If I were to borrow Matt Tait's percentage wheel, I would put the chances of Beaty calling the plays at 64 percent. He'll look a lot better calling plays with Peyton Bender backed up by Carter Stanley throwing to Daylon Charlot than Cozart and Willis looked.

Moderator

One more on the OC situation before moving on...

ChandlerAccipiter

Is "Walk-around guy" the best job title/description ever?

Tom Keegan

Without question. My brother-in-law's daughter's soccer team has the best youth sports moniker ever — The Pumpkin Smashers — and Likens has the best title ever. If Beaty could take back one sentence in his life that would probably be it because I used the title ad nauseum and even was such a jerk that I immediately filmed video of Likens walking around at practice. And I wonder why they don't let us into more than the first 15 minutes of practice. One of Likens' best friends in coaching, by the way, is Peyton Bender's OC. I hope Likens stays on the staff.

hawkster007

By signing Beaty to more $$ and an extension, isn't this also Zenger's self-serving move to preserve his AD job under a lame duck Chancellor, because ordinarily a new Chancellor would at least want to re-evaluate the football coach and the AD position (and have input on salary and AD/coaching positions)? It seems like this was a strategical move in part by Zenger.

Tom Keegan

No, I think it was a necessary move. Not that it's not also self-serving because it is to this extent: Zenger won't be allowed to hire another football coach so if it ever gets to the point he wants to fire Beaty, he can't because he won't be allowed to hire a new coach. I honestly think it was just a necessary move because you can't claim progress and then not pay your coach a Big 12 wage. Beaty still ranks last in the conference, but it's a competitive wage now.

Moderator

Let's finish out a few football questions before switching gears to basketball...

MSchinstock

What are you thoughts on Cozart and Willis next season? Do you see either transferring to another school or moving to another position?

Tom Keegan

Montell has one year remaining, so it might be too late to switch to another position, unless it's as a kickoff return man. I could see him doing that job. He's fast and shifty and wouldn't be the first ex-QB to make a good kick returner. Marcus Hereford, like Montell a super guy, made the switch to WR/kick return man and had better success as return man than receiver. I would not be surprised to see Willis transfer, but setting aside football for a minute, Kansas is a school that students seem to really enjoy. (This I know in part because our last two of four children are KU grads.) It's a tough place to leave and Willis seems to enjoy it here. If he's determined to continue his football career at a school where he'll get to play then he will transfer because there's no room at the inn.

TrueKUFan08

After last season the KU football program took a few more hits by losing several key assistant coaches. With Beaty getting a raise and a contract extension, will his assistants be getting a raise as well to help keep them from jumping to a better paying program?

Tom Keegan

We're trying to find out what the situation is with assistant coaches raises. It certainly would a logical next step in showing a commitment to football. The most pressing need, as far as I'm concerned, is giving linebackers coach Todd Bradford a raise. He's a terrific coach and he and Clint Bowen clicked immediately and Bradford had a hand in the defense improving by more than 100 yards per game. ... USA Today's recent assistant coaches salary list showed Clint Bowen with a salary of $400,600. We're in midst of trying to confirm that figure.

ChandlerAccipiter

I think the paradox for a lot of us out here is that we don't mind the extension and raise for Beaty as the head coach, but we have have major concerns giving these to the OC, QB coach, and punt return coach. How do we rectify this?

Tom Keegan

Chandler, I think you summed up the situation perfectly. Only one person can rectify the situation: David Beaty.

I recently interviewed the head coach at Baker University, which is playing for NAIA national title, and asked him how he has changed in his 13 years. He said when he first got there he tried to run everything. Now he lets his assistants run their areas of expertise. It made me think of Beaty's need to do the same.

I'm sure he'll run from the punt return duties because it was such a miserable failure. If a return man can't secure the ball consistently I don't care how fast he is. Have everyone who consistently secures the ball compete and then speed becomes a factor. Embree wasn't fast but was excellent punt returner. Quiv, just the opposite.
With Bender on way, I'd be surprised if Beaty gives up OC duties. Zenger can't make him because he has no hammer. What was he going to do, fire him, thus guaranteeing his own firing because he fired two of his own hires? I suppose Zenger could have said, "I'll extend you if you give up OC duties." If Beaty would have said, "I'm not giving them up," Zenger would still have to extend him because it's the best move to arm Beaty with the tools he needs to succeed. Giving him the raise and extension helps Beaty to recruit better. Zenger's longevity is dependent on Beaty's success.

Moderator

Let's transition over to basketball for a few questions before we let Tom get out of here...

stupidmichael

I apologize if this has been addressed already, but what are you reacting to in the background of your Lunch Break picture?

Tom Keegan

There was a 2-for-1 special advertised for KC strip steaks on the scoreboard ... Not really. It's from Mario Chalmers' miracle shot against Memphis. I must have seen the ball go in and looked back at Mario for his reaction, which was much smoother than mine, which I guess makes sense because Mario is considerably smoother than I am in every way that doesn't involve golf.

MaddyMurphy

Which Coach is assigned to players to help with free throw shooting?

Tom Keegan

Kurtis Townsend is the shot doctor for the team and has made great strides with Lagerald Vick's jumper, for example. Generally speaking, free throws are a lot like putting. Both are largely mental but sometimes can be helped with mechanical tweaks. Frank Mason's better than a .741 FT shooter and Svi certainly is better than .333. They'll get back to their averages. My guess is with Townend's help, Jackson will be better than .547. I remember when, I think it was Scottie Pippen struggling at the line when I worked in Chicago, a thought occurred to me and I decided to verbalize it before it died of loneliness. Sometimes players who accomplish the most in a variety of ways in part because they are so active, have trouble toning down that hyperactivity when they must stand alone and the building grows still and quiet. The team is shooting .588, which must and will get better.

hawkster007

Lucas has come on a little lately, but why didn't he improve substantially more over the summer, his vertical is still horrible and it takes him forever to gather himself and jump, by which time some guard has stripped him of the ball a lot of times?

Tom Keegan

Finally, an easy one to answer. Lucas has had a nagging foot injury, which seems to happen to a lot of big men. He didn't call attention to it and neither did the coaches. He has looked slower and not as bouncy, not two great attributes of his to begin with, since the foot has bothered him. I've been slow in criticizing him knowing that part of his problem was he was not playing at 100 percent. You can only do what your body allows you to do. He's a smart player, too smart to whine about an ailment. Stick with him and if his body holds up, you'll like him as much as you did last year.

DrJHawk

HCBS has shown the remarkable ability to adapt his offense to the available talent. But can we make a deep run in the tournament without a stronger inside presence? Will Doke be ready for prime time by March?

Tom Keegan

I say yes. Josh Jackson does so much damage near the hoop that he almost has that Magic Johnson quality of giving a team a point guard and power forward all in one package. Fearless Frank Mason and Devonte' Graham also are excellent finishers at the hoop. So I think Kansas can emerge from the Midwest Regional at Sprint Center with a ticket to the Final Four in Phoenix. So even without more of an inside presence, I think Kansas can get there. I do think Azubuike will be a lot better by March than now because he really cares, is really smart and has tremendous athletic ability for a man his size. He's in that phase where a player gets worse before he gets better because he's learning so much and in turn thinking too much. Against Duke, his mind wasn't as cluttered. Little by little, maybe even in bursts, all that info crowding his brain, will become second-nature and then, look out. We're talking about a very smart young man. And big. Really, really big.

Moderator

Time for a few more... Great stuff today. Thanks for all of the questions and be sure to check out our regular Gameday Chats with Matt Tait on Kansas basketball game days.

Back to Tom for a few more hoops questions...

ChandlerAccipiter

Was it necessary for Frank Mason III to play 38 minutes against Nebraska? Obviously Self thinks so and knows better than all of us, but what's your take on this?

Tom Keegan

My take is that Frank is 22 and his next game was a week away. I think the more time Udoka Azubuike gets to spend on the floor with starters, the better he'll develop. I generally think a little too much is made of heavy minutes for college players. As Self pointed out earlier this year, he learned a trick from my former teacher (Theory of Coaching, I earned a B) at Marquette, the late, great Rick Majerus: Have your players off their feet when going over the scouting report.

BSherp

Where would you rank this year's team compared to Self's other teams?

Tom Keegan

I find it the most entertaining of all to watch. I'd have to rank the national-title team first because it had such terrific depth up front and in the backcourt and moved the ball so great. This was one has a chance to rank with it but only if it wins it all. I also thought the team when the Morris twins were juniors was terrific.
Josh Jackson treating every possession at both ends as if it's a game in itself to be one or lost right then and there gives this squad a chance to overachieve, which it would have to do to win it all because Duke has more talent and experience on its roster.

Tom Keegan

1 - Josh Jackson;
2 - Udoka Azubike;
3 - Devonte' Graham;
4 - Frank Mason;
5 - Svi.

Jackson has the physical tools to translate to the super-athletic NBA and the head and heart to maximize his physical gifts. Azubuike is so young and has such tremendous ability. Graham is a natural NBA point guard, even if his frame is a little slight and his stop-and-pop jumper needs to continue to improve. Mason will be discriminated against because of his size, but I'd want him on my team.
Svi is young and does have an NBA body and smoothness to him, but I need to see him perform better against quick defenders to move him up the rankings. Most, I would think, would put him third. Today's Lunch Break blog, which I post every weekday during the lunch hour, addresses the statistical disparity in his performances vs. ranked opponents and unranked ones.

http://www2.kusports.com/weblogs/keegan-lunch-break/2016/dec/13/better-competition-will-test-svis-recent/

hawkster007

Out of the current guys on the roster, who do you think will be the best NBA pro? I know Jackson seems like the obvious choice, but I'm kind of leaning towards Svi...I think he's been under-utilized during his career, still has lots of upside (still very young), and his body/game screams NBA.

Moderator

Oops. Such a good question it was submitted twice. We'll end on this next note... Thanks again for all of the great questions and your contributions and keep an eye out for many more chats in the near future.

hawkster007

Thanks for taking the time to do this Tom, your insight is much appreciated.

Tom Keegan

You're very welcome. I enjoyed it, except when I typed too quickly and left off a letter in Azubuike's name. The correct spelling is Azubuike. And I'll leave everyone with one of life's puzzles to ponder: If scientists can discover how to manufacture self-cleaning ovens, why hasn't anyone come up with a self-cleaning shirt?

Thanks.

Tom Keegan

Print edition of USA Today has Clint Bowen's salary at $650,000, which puts him 37th in the nation among college football assistant coaches.