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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

First-year Kansas coach David Beaty comfortable as face of anonymous program

Kansas University head football coach David Beaty addresses reporters at the Big 12 Conference Football Media Days Monday in Dallas.

Kansas University head football coach David Beaty addresses reporters at the Big 12 Conference Football Media Days Monday in Dallas.

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— A number of different looks, sounds and faces have represented Kansas University football at Big 12 Media Days in Dallas during the past several years. But few of them dripped the passion, excitement and enthusiasm that current KU coach David Beaty carried to the podium on Monday morning at the Omni Hotel.

“Good morning,” belted Beaty with his Texas-sized twang and the energy normally reserved for game day. “How exciting it is for me to be right back here in my hometown of Dallas, Texas, representing the University of Kansas. It’s an exciting time to be here at Big 12 media days with you.”

If you’re trying to picture it, think Will Ferrell in the locker room scene in the movie, “Old School,” or even Ferrell’s role as a yell leader for the fictional Spartans on “Saturday Night Live.”

Beaty, who is in his first year in charge of the Jayhawks after stepping in to replace Charlie Weis — a man who made his own waves at Big 12 Media Days past — certainly was better dressed than either Ferrell character. But his posture and the fire in his words certainly carried the same relentless intensity.

Beaty’s best-foot-forward persona was particularly crucial at this year’s media event, where the Jayhawks were represented by a largely anonymous group of players who lacked star power and name recognition.

A year ago, KU brought Ben Heeney to Dallas. Prior to that, it was high-profile quarterback Jake Heaps and All-Big 12 running back James Sims. And the year before that, the attendance of Notre Dame transfer Dayne Crist caught everybody’s attention.

While none of those names were Heisman Trophy finalists or talked about much on the national level, they all were well known in the Big 12.

Monday’s Jayhawks — defensive end Ben Goodman, tight end Ben Johnson and offensive lineman Jordan Shelley-Smith — were not, and that made it even more important for Beaty to be on his game.

Not that he minded.

Since taking over back in December, the ever-personable Beaty has gotten used to talking to folks, shaking hands and smiling when he discusses “the process” that is rebuilding KU football. He never over-promises when he’s doing it, but he does smile more than you might think a guy would who truly understands the tough situation into which he stepped.

“We are literally just starting our program,” Beaty said. “In Year 4, we’ll look back at this year and wonder how we ever ran a football play. We just will. I’ve been a part of it.”

So, for now, he’ll be the face of it. It will be his name that people kick around. It will be his résumé that people reference. It will be his positive traits that people point to when talking about KU turning things around.

“I don’t think of it that way,” said Beaty when asked about being the face of the downtrodden program. “But it is something that’s obvious; you’re right. Am I comfortable with it? Whether I am or not, I guess if that’s what I have to fill right now, I’ll do it. But you will not hear a lot about David Beaty. You’re not gonna see my face everywhere. I fight our marketing department all the time because, at the end of the day, it’s about (our players).”

And those players seem to have fully bought in to Beaty’s way already.

Goodman said he had never felt better about a head coach and a coaching staff in his five-year KU career. Shelley-Smith said Beaty’s arrival made things more upbeat on a daily basis. And Johnson said the passion and respect for their coach shared by the three Jayhawks in Dallas on Monday had reached every corner the locker room.

“He’s done a great job in that role,” Shelley-Smith said. “He’s very confident, so we can be confident, and that just breeds throughout the program.”

Added Goodman, when asked if he thought Beaty turned it up a notch for his inaugural Big 12 media days: “No, man. That is him all the way. That is his personality, and that’s what he does. He has juice, and he has passion for this team. I compare his passion and his love to (KU defensive coordinator and former player) Clint Bowen’s, and that’s hard to say.”

Hard to say is one thing. But Beaty seems to have that down. Hard to do is another. And with preseason camp starting in just a couple of the weeks and the start of his first season as a Div. I head coach a little more than a month out, Beaty seems to have a clear understanding that what’s ahead will be much more difficult to tackle than what now is behind.

But for reasons that dabble both in the past and his optimistic future, he sincerely believes it can be done. And he wants to do it in unison with his coaches, his players and the success-starved KU football fan base.

“There’s every reason to be skeptical,” Beaty said. “And while I’m sure some are, they’ve been so supportive and that’s been fun to watch.

“The secret is, there is no secret. It’s hard work. Period. That’s how we get there. We outwork people. That’s what it takes.”

Comments

Brett McCabe 6 years, 4 months ago

I was listening to KC radio a few weeks ago and they were discussing the traits they felt you needed in a head coach for him to be successful at KU. Though winning coaches come in all shapes and sizes, I think the word that is consistent with all of the winners is intensity. Beaty seems to have it.

The biggest challenge for the staff this year is that they'll be doing something none of them have ever done before - lose repeatedly and, possibly, in humiliating fashion. Are they strong enough?

The second biggest challenge they'll face is improvement. Can they make the team better during the year? The team must improve in two ways: on the field, and in high school hallways. If the team doesn't take strides in both areas, the die will be already cast for this staff.

Michael Lorraine 6 years, 4 months ago

According to Al Bohl, they need to be extremely well organized and he should know.

Russ Bowen 6 years, 4 months ago

Brett- You've overlooked a few things when you say none of the coaches have ever lost repeatedly and in humiliating fashion. I don't know the pedigrees of all the coaches, but I know that Clint Bowen was there as a player when we lost like that, and Reggie Mitchell was there also as a coach during the early Glenn Mason years when we lost repeatedly and in humiliating fashion before turning it around. I bet if you comb through the other coaches resumes you'll find most, if not all, have had one terrible season (or more) at various stops in their careers. They'll be able to draw on those experiences and persevere.

Humpy Helsel 6 years, 4 months ago

This group of coaches have to be successful. I don't want to think about if they are not. They don't have to, and they won't win right now. They do have to build a program. Coach says "in Year 4 we'll look back..." That is how long it takes to build a successful D-1 football program, at minimum, from the depths this one has fallen. Are there enough sophisticated, basketball spoiled, KU fans to build some tradition of filling the stadium regardless, and giving our new Coach something important to show off to potential recruits? Or will it be "the let's all go to see them play on Saturday once, and if, they become a winner, again?" Will it be the Saturday afternoon where the camera scans the stadium and they are half full? After we have lost 7 or 8 games this year will the Monday morning QB's start blogging and calling the radio call in about we need to bring Mangino back or we didn't give Gill or Weiss enough time, or we need to fire this guy and hire some high profile coach who would NEVER come to coach football at Kansas? This group of coaches HAVE to be successful and we might as well get on board and stay on board through a bunch of losses and a few unexpected upsets here and there over the next three years. We really don't want to consider the alternative.

Jim Stauffer 6 years, 4 months ago

KU FB fans are often disrespected when people see 35000 in the stands. Look over the history of this program and the fans have had little success to cause them to be loyal.

Having said that, 30-35000 will be there every game this year. And if they begin to see some exciting FB, even while losing they will come back again and again. Why? Because regardless of the BB mentality of 20000 fans in the area, this is FB country. High School FB is supported much more by families than most would admit in our state. Those families brought their kids to the games in the Mangino era. It will happen again.

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