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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Beaty begins building plan at Kansas

Kansas head coach David Beaty tries to keep his team amped up during spring practice on Tuesday, March 24, 2015.

Kansas head coach David Beaty tries to keep his team amped up during spring practice on Tuesday, March 24, 2015.

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The college head coaching careers of West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen and first-year Kansas University football coach David Beaty have more than a few similarities.

From their rise through the ranks as coordinators to head coaches to the types of offenses they run and several aspects in between, the 44-year-old head coaches have more in common than just the conference in which they coach.

But one of the biggest connections in their coaching paths is a journey that Holgorsen successfully navigated his way through and Beaty is just starting.

Like Beaty, who inherited a depleted roster at Kansas thanks to junior-college recruiting practices gone wrong, Holgorsen, too, was handed a short deck when he took over for Bill Stewart at WVU in 2011.

In their first seasons, both Beaty and Holgorsen fielded rosters that were down nearly an entire recruiting class from the 85 scholarships allowed by the NCAA — Holgorsen’s first WVU squad featured 66 scholarship players and Beaty currently has 64 — and as Beaty tries to get KU competitive with creative measures like building a strong walk-on program and finding timely transfers, Holgorsen’s Mountaineers are finally functioning with a full deck.

“I know where they’re at and I know that’s exactly where we were when I first got to West Virginia,” Holgorsen told the Journal-World at Big 12 media days in late July. “Having numbers in the 60s is not where you want it, but you just have to be patient and you gotta do a good job of filling your roster when it comes to recruiting and then you’ve gotta have retention. And I feel like we’ve had a lot of retention. Right now, going into Year 5, we’ve finally got maximum numbers.”

Despite the diminished numbers, Holgorsen led the Mountaineers to a 10-3 record, conference championship and Orange Bowl victory during his first season. However, those accomplishments came in the less stacked Big East Conference. The Mountaineers are just 18-20 in their first three seasons in the Big 12.

Despite the jump to tougher competition, Holgorsen did not change his approach to rebuilding the roster and said one thing remained key in the process.

“Nothing but time,” he said. “You gotta fill your recruiting classes and two, three years down the road you’re gonna get it where you want it. I didn’t know (the situation when I got there). It’s not ideal, but those are the cards you’re dealt and that’s what you’ve gotta do.”

Beaty understands this. And he already has laid out a clear plan for how to elevate KU’s scholarship numbers. But conversations with Holgorsen, Rice coach David Bailiff and Texas A&M; coach Kevin Sumlin, who dealt with a similar scenario during his first year at Houston, helped Beaty believe crawling out of such a hole was possible.

The situation at Rice, where Beaty coached wide receivers from 2006-07 and served as offensive coordinator in 2010, was so dire that Bailiff was forced to play portions of spring practices 11 on 10. The number of scholarship players he inherited was in the 50s and because of a lack of depth at defensive end, the Rice offensive coaches asked one of their tackles to step to air and block nobody during certain drills and team scrimmages.

The Owls, who have averaged six wins per season and made three bowl appearances since Bailiff took over, had a tougher mountain to climb than most because of Rice’s strict academic admission standards and hefty price tag of tuition.

But patience and that retention that Holgorsen talked about helped Bailiff rebuild, and Rice has been bowl eligible the past three seasons and enters the 2015 season coming off of back-to-back bowl appearances, including a victory in the 2014 Hawaii Bowl.

Though short-handed, things were a little easier for Sumlin at Houston, which more closely resembles the situation Beaty faces at KU. Beaty’s former boss used the walk-on approach and the benefit of small senior classes to get the numbers up more quickly.

Before making the jump to A&M; and the SEC in 2012, Sumlin ripped off a 35-17 record in four seasons at Houston and led the Cougars to three bowl games and a 12-1 season in 2011.

Beaty and the Jayhawks might not be anywhere near able to entertain such thoughts at this point. But given the first-year KU coach’s close connection to three successful head coaches who have been in his shoes and lived to tell about it, Beaty believes there is hope in Lawrence.

“(It helps to) have small senior classes, which is gonna take a few years,” Beaty said earlier this summer. “It’s gonna be another 25 (seniors) next year and then after that it’s gonna start scaling back to around 17 or 18 (seniors per class), which allows you to still sign 25 (incoming players) and now all of a sudden you get eight more and now you move it up. And then the next year you get eight more. And then you get up to 85. It’ll probably take us a couple of years to get there. We’ll see.”

Comments

Joe Ross 2 years, 1 month ago

Agree with the idea of patience and good recruiting being a necessity. Wanna jump start the program? Build a stadium. The whole program needs a facelift: from the arena to the fan base to the play on the field. Be committed to EVERYTHING.

Steve Corder 2 years, 1 month ago

I too would love to see a new stadium, but as much as I am reluctant to admit, Baylor is a template. Build it and they will come or win and they will come. My guess: the big donors want to see some light at the end of this KU tunnel before being approached, and it starts with stability at the head coaching position. I think Beaty brings that.

Michael Lorraine 2 years, 1 month ago

A good theater does not necessarily make for good theater but renovating Memorial needs to be changed from a wish list item to a requirement. I have a soft spot for the stadium but I don’t think we can sell recruits on the notion that we are serious about football given the condition of our house.

Dirk Medema 2 years, 1 month ago

There's no jump starting possible when the car has a dead battery and no gas. Gotta put something in the tank first.

We also just finished the last prerequisite; Rock Chalk Park - moving the track out of the stadium. The next millions dollars was put into upgrading the coaching staff (again). My guess is Dr Z has some plans in the works, and knows that timing of the announcement (after some W's) is crucial to the momentum necessary to completing a stadium upgrade.

Jeff Coffman 2 years, 1 month ago

Again the ljw wants to skip Turner Gill's Era of no responsibility of the student athlete in which we lost around 20 scholarship players to academics. Yes Weis went the Juco route which was a gamble and because he missed, but this wasn't brought on my one coach this was brought on my two coaches and the first one has more of the blame. I'm not sure why ljw won't say the first coach didn't do anything wrong and led to the spiral.

Matt Tait 2 years, 1 month ago

If you've been a regular reader of this site and our work for the past several years, you'd know that Gill has received more than his fair share of criticism here, from me, Tom Keegan and others.

However, this current numbers issue IS almost entirely on Weis and the juco experiments/fast fix attempts.

Gill dug the hole and Weis tried to get out of it the fastest way he knew how. That could have worked. But it didn't. And the hole grew deeper.

Simple as that.

David Williams 2 years, 1 month ago

The juco experiment bust was one significant factor, so also was the fact that Weis dismissed ~30 (?) from the program his first year. I have no doubt that some of them had to go. However, Weis has been quoted that he may have gone too far too fast with that purge. My understanding is that he created first the gap, then tried fill w/jucos, and that did not work...and here we are. If some of this information is not accurate, please correct me.

Dirk Medema 2 years, 1 month ago

"Gill dug the hole and Weis tried to get out of it the fastest way he knew how. That could have worked. But it didn't. And the hole grew deeper."

Good analysis, Matt, and yes the LJW staff has been mostly complete in this coverage, though I think there have also been an article or two that focused on your previous statement - "this current numbers issue IS almost entirely on Weis and the juco experiments/fast fix attempts." Can you provide the numbers to support this assertion?

If I remember correctly, we were short at least 25 upperclassmen because of Gill when Charlie took over. Not sure what the total scholarship numbers were at that time (I'm guessing they were in the 70's at best.), but I am sure we were missing half a class of Sr's and half a class of Jr's. That would indicate that the current numbers issue was NOT almost entirely Weis, but shared equally by both. That seems to be what your 3 sentence states, but seems to contradict the 2nd sentence.

Unfortunately, most bloggers never seem to make it past the 2nd sentence.

Matt Tait 2 years, 1 month ago

The hole Gill dug had very little to do with numbers and everything to do with competitiveness, accountability, discipline and work ethic.

If you look back at Keegan's columns, he did one outlining the juco experiment and it was pretty incredible… Nearly 40 percent of those juco guys Weis brought in during a two-year period never played a down for KU and a handful more have left since Keegan wrote the column…

Weis inherited a mess but the numbers were decent and he was able to add more than 25 guys in a couple of classes because of blue shirts and counting guys forward.

Either way, neither coach did much to help this program out and Beaty's got his work cut out for him because of it.

Dirk Medema 2 years, 1 month ago

Thanks for the reply Matt. Definitely agree with Tom's article. It is the discussion of your comment about the failed experiment. No question there.

I also appreciate the qualitative comment - "Weis inherited a mess but the numbers were decent", but what is decent? 85? 80? 75? 70? How many scholarship players did Weis inherit?

The quantitative counterpoint is that Weis was missing 25 upperclassmen. That looks like a numbers hole in addition to the other messes you mentioned. It is admittedly an apples vs oranges argument (upperclassmen vs. scholarship), but no one seems to want to compare apples to apples. How many scholarship players did Weis inherit?

Humpy Helsel 2 years, 1 month ago

Blame. Blame. Gill. Weis. New stadium. Let's throw Mangino in there. I am sure the previous Pope has some culpability, also. I hope the bloggers don't reflect the whole of the KU faithful. If so, we will never be able to dig our way out of this hole. We are always looking back to blame and in search of quick fixes. Yikes! We have't even played one game. Should get real ugly once the losses mount this year and next. This guy has a plan and it is the best thing we have going. Want a new stadium in the absence of some excitement and success? Let he who ask write the first check. I'm sure they will accept gifts for the new stadium fund. Heck, they might even let one of us head up the campaign. Good luck with that!

Matt Woolley 2 years, 1 month ago

Humpy you are spot on. At this point, all that happened in the past is a moot point. Honestly, some stability at the head coach position would be nice for a change. Give a guy a full 6 years recruiting before we just move on.

I will admit that KU does need some sort of upgrade for the football team though. The football players have a solid 20 minute walk to practice every single day. So whether it is a new dorm overlooking the fooball stadium or a new practice facility put in by the dorms, something needs to happen. If our football program got on track even slightly, our next Adidas contract would become the largest in the country easily. And, it is a lot easier to make money from 50K at a game than 16,300.

Michael Lorraine 2 years, 1 month ago

Only time will tell but we don’t know if we’ve hit rock bottom yet. I hope history will mark the firing of Weis as the end of one of the worst eras in KU football.

Bryce Landon 2 years, 1 month ago

It's not quite over yet. This year's team could very easily go 0-12. A 3-9 mark would be a miracle.

David Williams 2 years, 1 month ago

"I hope history will mark the firing of Weis as the end of one of the worst eras in KU football." Indeed, we could even say one of the worst cases of mismanagement by any D1, Power 5/BCS university program, ever.

Re the fan base as part of program-building, we should look at the student section. The "rip his f- head off" during kickoffs has got to go. Beaty could pull a Larry Brown, let him get on the PA (or op-ed in the UDK) and address them directly and say "that stops or we will pull the team off the field" That even could apply for leaving at halftime (that is a stretch, I realize - kidding there :) ). The tactic worked for Brown. That behavior has been almost as bad as the play on the field.

Michael Lorraine 2 years, 1 month ago

I suppose if you were in middle school the rip your f###ing head off thing might be amusing. I find it embarrassing but I have to give them credit for their attendance. If we want a winning program, the least we can do is show up and make some noise. Memorial is not much of a home field advantage and I doubt visiting teams find it intimidating.

Matt Gauntt 2 years, 1 month ago

Sure, I would love to have a new stadium, great football powerhouse, new practice facility, etc., etc., and would most like to have a winning football program. Being a recent transplant to the State of Texas, I'm going to the KU-TCU game down here in Fort Worth, but not exactly how happy I'll be at the end of the game - I get it.

All that said.....There are many, many less than admirable participants in the recent KU Football demise. At this point, past history. I sincerely hope that us as alumni will be patient with coach. He will need it. It's a large hole to dig out of. He's not going to get a lot of accolades looking at the scoreboard this season, and those of us that attend games and proudly declare our love of all things Mt. Oread, need to voice our support. I know players are told not to read these discussion boards, but you know they do. Let's not spend all season ripping the players. If they are giving up - perhaps. If they are working hard and trying, but overmatched, please recognize that.

Bob Bailey 2 years, 1 month ago

Without seeing a game yet, the greatest need is for a new DC.

Our people have been poorly coached, and not taught basic Defense fundamentals. Our DC is a nice guy and a Jayhawk supporter. But he was taught wrong Defense by his first coach. Is it any better? Check the first game and see. Can they tackle? Not so far in 4 years. Can they cover? Same answer. They do seem to have better Defense coverage. See if they are properly Used!

James Baker 2 years, 1 month ago

Can someone summarize the rest of the article?

This run-on sentence prevented me from reading further.

"In their first seasons, both Beaty and Holgorsen fielded rosters that were down nearly an entire recruiting class from the 85 scholarships allowed by the NCAA — Holgorsen’s first WVU squad featured 66 scholarship players and Beaty currently has 64 — and as Beaty tries to get KU competitive with creative measures like building a strong walk-on program and finding timely transfers, Holgorsen’s Mountaineers are finally functioning with a full deck."

Matt Tait 2 years, 1 month ago

You didn't miss anything, James. Hope you're doing OK.

Lance Hobson 2 years, 1 month ago

I'd like to see better fan support now but especially when we get the program rolling again. I'm still disappointed in how half the stadium left at halftime in a blowout win against KState in the Mangino great years. Students mostly, they were as worthless as they were spoiled.

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