Saturday, November 28, 2015


Tom Keegan: KU can’t drastically improve overnight — nor in one offseason

Kansas freshman quarterback Ryan Willis is stood up on third and one by the Kansas State defense for a one yard loss during the annual Sunflower Showdown game Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas freshman quarterback Ryan Willis is stood up on third and one by the Kansas State defense for a one yard loss during the annual Sunflower Showdown game Saturday at Memorial Stadium.


An offensive line takes years, not months, to develop. One wide receiver with near-world-class speed can make such a difference for an offense, but those guys are too obvious for the Baylors and the Oklahomas to miss.

Adding an edge pass rusher to twin with promising Dorance Armstrong would make an immediate difference. Recruiting a pair of shut-down cornerbacks in the same class certainly would speed up the process, but that’s no easy assignment.

Barring a phenom-filled recruiting class, a rarity in college football, where players at most positions must learn to crawl and then walk before soaring, it’s going to take time for the Kansas University football program to become competitive in games, much less the standings.

“You’ve got to look at the fact that you’ve got to get a little better before you can get a lot better,” first-year head coach David Beaty said after his team finished an 0-12 season with a 45-14 loss to Kansas State, winner of the past six games of the series.

Shortcuts don’t exist in college football, where unlike in the NFL, the worst don’t get to pick first, they generally pick last.

That doesn’t mean another 0-12 season awaits Kansas, not with Rhode Island on the schedule for the season-opener. The Rams went 1-10, including losses to Albany, New Hampshire and Towson. Ohio University (8-4), a tough out under Frank Solich, also visits Memorial Stadium in a game that could go either way. KU wraps its 2016 non-conference schedule with a trip to Memphis, which loses its most talented players and coach Justin Fuentes. Not a likely victory, but not impossible. Plus, the Iowa State game is in Lawrence. A two-victory season is the most likely outcome, and three is not a major reach.

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

David Beaty 'embarrassed' by KU's winless season

First-year Kansas football coach David Beaty speaks with media members following the Jayhawks' 12th and final loss of the 2015 season, against Kansas State. KU went winless in Beaty's first year, and the coach said he was both embarrassed and motivated by those results.

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Slow growth tends to have more staying power, and Beaty will have to show better discipline in avoiding the quick-fix, graduate-transfer approach he relied too heavily on this season. Linebacker Marcquis Roberts was worth losing a scholarship that could be used on a high school recruit because he’ll be a two-year starter. Defensive tackle Corey King had just one year of eligibility remaining and he was good enough to start, but not good enough to make an 0-12 team a 1-11 one. Receiver Joshua Stanford, who had gone on a four-game leave of absence at Virginia Tech, proved a bad gamble, catching three passes when he tuned in and suited up.

Most first-year Big 12 football players are afforded the luxury of spending an entire year training vigorously in the weight room without having to worry about preparing for games. Kansas had so many true freshman playing games that they won’t resume intense daily weight-room work until Monday. That puts them a little behind, but the in-game lessons they learned more than compensate.

Three true freshmen started on offense Saturday: wide receiver Jeremiah Booker, left guard Larry Hughes and quarterback Ryan Willis. Classmates Steven Sims, a wide receiver, and Clyde McCauley, an offensive tackle, also were regulars. Texas A&M; transfer LaQuivionte Gonzeles, who could be KU’s fast receiver, will be eligible for two years. Beaty’s staff will need to recruit talent to compete immediately with Ke’aun Kinner, who led the team with 566 rushing yards. Especially since Willis is not a running quarterback, KU will need to upgrade its running back stable, which for the first time in a long time is thin.

Defensively, scoring a major recruit such as Lawrence High’s Amani Bledsoe would change the outlook from Day 1 and into future years. More depth also is needed at defensive tackle. Roberts, Dineen and Baker University transfer Keith Loneker Jr. combine to make linebacker one of the team’s more solid positions next season. Recruiting ready-to-play-now cornerbacks would enable Tyrone Miller to move to his more natural position of safety.

And then there is the kicking game, which on Saturday was responsible for a fumbled punt and a blocked punt, delivering K-State 14 of its points. KU can’t go into yet another season without a field-goal kicker trusted to make 40-plus-yard kicks. Finding one can’t be as hard as multiple Kansas coaching staffs have made it look.

Things can only get better from 0-12, but a lot better overnight? That’s not how it works.

— See what people were saying about the Sunflower Showdown during’s live coverage

More news and notes from the 2015 Sunflower Showdown


Steve Jacob 4 years, 3 months ago

You say avoid the quick fix, but you can get fired after two seasons. The "honeymoon" season is over, not sure 2-10 is good enough in season two.

Bryce Landon 4 years, 3 months ago

It may have to be. Gill and Weis ran the program so deep into the ground that David Beaty cannot be expected to have us sniffing a bowl game until 2020.

Gerry Butler 4 years, 3 months ago

you got to be kidding. That type of thinking is EXACTLY the reason we are in the position we are in now.It is going to take more then 2 years. do you really realize how bad of shape this program is in because of the previous 2 coaches? There has been improvement, If we keep with the trend that you say might happen, then this will NEVER get better, that's always the fast answer FIRE THE COACH I mean come on how the hell you ever gonna get any continuity with that approach. You think better recruits are going to start coming here when we turn coaches over every 2 years, that's just sad

Doug Cramer 4 years, 3 months ago

Steve - patience bro...patience. Beaty had NOTHING to work with. Nothing.

Michael Lorraine 4 years, 3 months ago

We keep counting on Iowa State at home as a win but we've only beaten them once in the post-Mangino era.

Gavin Fritton 4 years, 3 months ago

Not sure I read this as optimistic or pessimistic, but I do think it's our reality. The Gill and Weis hires have put us in such a deep hole that we are just going to have to live with ugliness for awhile.

I would add a few things: First, I would hope that this season has also functioned to level out David Beaty's learning curve as well. I have a lot of faith in him, but this season he made a lot of coaching decisions (weird decisions on punting/going for it, clock management, playcalling and personnel decisions) that I'm willing to chalk up to a learning process but those need to stop.

Also, I would tell anyone that 1-11 or 2-10 is not going to be good enough next year, I'm afraid that it HAS to be. This job is already difficult enough and it's not going to get easier. I like Beaty and I believe he's the right guy for the job, but even if we go winless again next season (which I do not think will happen), we still can't fire him. Even with a manageable buyout from his contract, who else would replace him knowing the hole he was in before he even started coaching and then knowing that they would also run the possibility of getting fired after two bad seasons? No one we would want and no one who would be better than Beaty. No one will take this job if they don't feel that they'll get a fair chance to actually succeed. It took us years to stink as much as we do and that stink is going to take years to wash off.

Al Martin 4 years, 3 months ago

About this season, as my kids say, “Well, that happened.”

Well said, Gavin. Before the season, I got that we were going to lose probably all our games, and lose badly. I also got that we were undermanned by an entire recruiting class (thanks Charlie!). So I didn’t worry about the score much, I just looked for signs of improvement. There were some; by the end of the season, it looked like defenders were more often trying to make the right play, and were just getting beaten by the other guy. For the first time in a long time, the D line showed life. On offense, some skill players look promising, but the line is a perennial problem. Recruiting seems a bit better, although that’s hard to judge.

But a lot of things I expected to get better didn’t. Penalties, for one. Some of those, like holding and interference, happen because our guy is getting beaten, so they’re understandable. But ten games into the season we were still having snap count problems (two false starts on an attempted fourth down conversion is inexcusable). That’s not a talent problem; that’s coaching, and there’s no excuse I know of for not being better (if I’m wrong, please enlighten me). As you mention, a lot of clock management errors, and weird play calling decisions. Maybe it’s a learning curve issue for a new coach, or maybe it’s just him. Time will tell.

I get that coach Beaty needs a full five years to turn this roster around, and I’m all for letting him have it. But I’m also 47 years into watching Jayhawk football. Our overall history is pretty lousy, and even by those standards, the last six years have been our worst. And even by the standards of the last six years, this season has been the worst, so I’m not appreciating the trend. This was an historically, horrendously bad football season. I’ve seen a lot of complaints here about fan support, and I guess that’s fair, but I’ve seen that stadium rocking as recently as 2009. The years since then have been spectacularly bad football and spectacularly bad coaching, so spectacularly bad fan support isn’t too surprising. Fans will return given some hope.

This old Jayhawk is on board, but he isn’t sold yet.

Aaron Paisley 4 years, 3 months ago

KU has a 4 win ceiling next year. The three non conference games and ISU. Rhode Island should be a win. Ohio will be tough if Solich is still there, he's 71 so that's not a given at this stage. With Fuentes headed to Virginia Tech (I thought he was going to take the Missouri job), that probably ensures Lynch goes pro this year. ISU is replacing Rhoads so that definitely helps KU's chances of beating them.

There is a lot of work ahead for KU, but there's some good pieces to build around going forward which is something we haven't been able to say in awhile. The DLine is a very good pass rush unit, there's a lot of young WR's to build around as well. Ryan Willis still has a bunch of potential and a lot of his flaws come from being too aggressive which isn't the worst flaw to have. His decision making will get better with experience and he's shown a consistent ability to evade pass rushes. If the OLine can give Willis some protection next year, I think we'll see him make some real strides.

The coaching staff was mostly guys in their role for the first time and we definitely saw that with clock management issues, play calling, and other mistakes typical of people in new roles.

Bryan Schmiedeler 4 years, 3 months ago

I have been a reader on these boards for over 20 years; this is my first post ever.

This 0-12 season of KU football was more enjoyable than any of the last 4 seasons. I watched more games and had more interest in KU football than any of the last 4 seasons. Why? Because I think the program is back on track, something I never thought under Gill and Weiss.

The players put in a ton of effort. They (almost) never quit. The coaches never quit. Kansas played their hearts out in a very close loss to TCU.

I am old enough to remember watching KU under Bob Valesente in 1986 or so. Valesente was a really nice guy but not a very good coach. It seemed we ran the same three plays every offensive drive, run off tackle right, run off tackle right, then a pass to a receiver 1 yard up field. I never saw a spark, a fire. I never felt like the team was getting better.

Glen Mason came and we got better, won a bowl game.

Mansion took a few years to get going but we did get better little by little (this is not a I-wish-we-had-Mangino-back post).

A lot of very very young players got a lot of experience this year. I am excited about seeing Willis as a sophomore. I think HCDB can recruit and will recruit. I agree with a previous poster that there was some questionable play calling, and I hope he learns from that.

I for one want to give Beaty plenty of time and support to see what he can do.

W Keith Swinehart II 4 years, 3 months ago

Nice thoughtful post. I, too, enjoyed the season, and saw progress. Know that the best lessons come through mistakes and failures. Lot of lessons this year. Smart players and coaches will have learned from the season. I think we have smart coaches and a beginning foundation of players. It will take time. No shortcuts; just hard work and support.

Brian Skelly 4 years, 3 months ago

I concur. Gill was over his head from the beginning. Weis was great in front of the press, but both inside and outside sources have pointed out that he wasnt much of a coach. Give Weis credit, he's gotten farther on the right arm of Tom Brady than anyone other than Tom Brady. So he's got that going for him. We've got a cratered out D-I football program. With Beaty it feels like at least were building a foundation. Is it because we have no choice at this point? Yea. But long term vision is whats needed here. Not flash in the pan, or a coach who wins in the media.

I was there in the early 90's when Mason was the coach. I dont think he was a great game coach, but he was a good recruiter, and he was running his system consistently. Of course we used to joke that it was -- Up the middle, Up the middle, Up the middle, punt. Or that he'd try to kill the clock... for 3 quarters. But you felt the base was there, and occasionally that would show itself in productive and bowl seasons. Given the time, my guess is Beaty will build something that we can hang our hats on. But as this season showed, it will take time.

Bryce Landon 4 years, 3 months ago

Glen Mason actually took KU to TWO bowl wins - both of them Aloha Bowls.

Brian Skelly 4 years, 3 months ago

You could also argue that Glen Mason was the best recruiter that KU has ever had. He got good players to play hard, relatively consistently. It wasnt nearly as sexy as the Mangino's Orange Bowl team. But it was more consistent.

Bryan Mohr 4 years, 3 months ago

I lived in Jayhawk Towers while Mason was the coach. I personally witnessed this. The players would trash the entire building nearly every weekend. Urine in the elevators, fluorescent hall lights busted out throughout the building, and fire-alarms pulled all the time. I felt sorry for the RA, because Mason didn't correct the behavior. I won't provide specifics but I was told by players about "incentives" being provided to some of the players (obviously non-NCAA approved incentives). Terry Allen failed to correct the behavior problems. This is why Al Bohl specifically looked for a disciplinarian... Mangino. Mangino corrected the behavior problems, and it's little surprise former players later reported Mangino abusive. He didn't tolerate inappropriate behavior. There were consequences, and that pissed them off. My main point is that Mason was doing sketchy stuff in recruiting and the team was out of control off the field. I will never want Mason coaching at Kansas again.

Brett McCabe 4 years, 3 months ago

Strange to say, but the litmus test for the staff and team may be the home game against Ohio. Assuming that Solich is still there, they will be a veteran, well-coached team that is well-versed in his systems. Win that game at home and KU would be showing real progress. (Though I still don't understand why it is on our schedule.)

The value of a returning starter at QB almost can't be over-valued. If this program gets turned around, Willis will likely be looked upon as the guy who was the foundation of everything.

Our challenge, as always, will be up-front. Those are the positions that are hard to speed-up, and they will likely be our limiting factor next year.

I'm assuming that Beaty will put together a smart, if unspectacular recruiting class. But that will do. If the ceiling is 4 wins, and the basement is 1 win, the most probable outcome is somewhere in the middle. My early money is on 3 wins. But that number is flexible based on any unsuspected departures, and a view of the recruiting class in February.

I think we have the right people in place, and I'm looking forward to spending half my Saturdays in Memorial stadium watching this team improve, and improve it must.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 4 years, 3 months ago

Lot of good opinions here. Good to see some hope in a nearly hopeless situation.

I refer, of course, to the university's hide bound devotion to it's "one sport devotion"

The basketball team.

The orgy of "Late Night" for the basketball team long before the football season has ended gives glaring light to the problem. How do you think that this stupid gathering to watch players toss balls in the hoops unopposed and dance around for the crowd must make the football players feel??

Down in Norman football is a religion. You all know that. But in recent years the nearly invisible basketball team has received much support, enough that they made it to the national tournament a while back to challenge the Kansas team for national championship. There were people in Norman who did not know they made balls that did not have points on the ends! That has changed and if I recall correctly OU beat Kansas in Norman last year.

There is a lesson here. But will the KU administrators of sports notice? This year's team outcome does not give much satisfaction that they have.

Michael Lorraine 4 years, 3 months ago

Give it a rest Fred. No one gives a rip about your precious Sooners or your opinion about KU basketball. Why are you even here?

Al Martin 4 years, 3 months ago

That “Late Night” rant is just hogwash. Our basketball team is historically outstanding and is nationally relevant every year. It should be treated and promoted as such, and is. The hype around basketball is similar to other national powerhouses like Kentucky, Duke, and North Carolina, and that is appropriate. To argue that we need to damage our basketball program to improve our football program (or keep our football players from feeling bad) is just silly. Any competent football coach can turn Late Night into a recruiting positive.

To complain about the timing of Late Night is to complain about the fact that football and basketball seasons overlap, which, again, is just silly.

Brian Skelly 4 years, 3 months ago

I replied to Fred's rant in a previous story as such as well. Equating a historic basketball program as the reason that we cant win at football is insane. Hiring better football coaches would help.

Matt Gauntt 4 years, 3 months ago

Disappointing year, but Keegan is right, patience is needed. People keep talking about the horrid way that Weis left the program, but remember, Turner Gill didn't exactly leave us in a good condition either. So we had five years of subpar performance. Five years - 3 conference wins. I loved Mangino, but his last year didn't exactly set Gill up for success either. So we are in a huge rebuild. As painful as it might be, a great example is 70 miles to the west.

Look at Snyder - when he first came in. 27 straight losses before he came in. In his first year he was only 1-10 with his only win at home versus North Texas State. His second year he was 5-6 but played a lot of powderpuffs: Western Illinois, New Mexico State, New Mexico. Good wins were against Oklahoma State (4-7 overall that year) and Iowa State which was 4-6-1. All of his wins were at home.

Kansas isn't a football powerhouse......yet. Let's give Coach Beatty a few years to work things out. It's going to take him that long to get up to full strength player wise. Coach has exhibited a lot of passion and you know he deeply cares about this institution. Let's give him a little slack.

Brett McCabe 4 years, 3 months ago

Also, a final note on fan support for this team. Though it's a common theme for people to complain about the students, the single most disappointing thing this season was looking up into the Alumni seats and seeing so much of the opposing team's colors.

One thing that we can all do next year is to find a way to buy a set of season tickets (try the Coach's Corner for a low-priced deal), and either use them or eat them. In fact, if you don't pony up next year, you really should stay off this board because you don't really have a right to criticize a program if you don't do your part first.

Aaron Paisley 4 years, 3 months ago

Not everyone who posts here lives close enough to Lawrence to justify the money. I'm not eating several hundred dollars on season tickets when I can't attend any games in Lawrence. I can make better use of my money on other areas of the athletic department so take your soap box and shove it up your butt.

Brett McCabe 4 years, 3 months ago

You seem a little defensive. Coach's Corner Tickets: $115. Lame Excuses from KU Alumni: Priceless.

Consider yourself part of the problem.

Aaron Paisley 4 years, 3 months ago

And that money can be put to better use than contributing to an empty Memorial Stadium so again, go shove your soapbox up your ass.

Al Martin 4 years, 3 months ago

What utter nonsense!

Far and away the single most disappointing thing this season was looking down on the field and seeing the most godawful team KU has ever produced. Attendance is a direct reflection of the longterm mismanagement of this football program.

Fans will support a product worth supporting (see the Mason and Mangino years), and have no obligation to support one that isn’t. They most certainly have no obligation to monetarily support the program to express an opinion about it. That statement is among the dumbest things I’ve read on this board, which is saying something.

Doug Cramer 4 years, 3 months ago

I think we'll win 4 next year.

  1. We have a ton of decent sized linemen that are underclassmen. Both sides of the line had guys that were developing this season and will be a lot more ready next year.

  2. We also had a lot of underclassmen get a lot of playing time this year. This will go a long way.

  3. We got a QB that has vision down the field, is decisive, and can throw the ball with accuracy.

  4. Beaty is a good coach...if not a great coach. His football I.Q. is quadruple what Wies and Gill's were combined.

I'm going with an early prediction of 4 wins next season.

Adam McEwen 4 years, 3 months ago

Watching the game yesterday, attention to detail comes to mind. KSU is a team with incredible attention to detail, when you have less talent than the opposition, you need every tiny advantage you can get. I believe it was the first game this season when Beatty elected to kick the extra point instead of go for two when the single point had no benefit to his team at that point in the game. It screamed "unprepared", and that kind of play isn't going to turn this thing around. KU needs to do all the little things perfectly, because the kind of talent that can get away with mistakes isn't going to be on the roster any time soon.

Robert Brock 4 years, 3 months ago

I have been following KU football for over 60 years. It has hit rock bottom several times and has little to show as far as success goes. KU fans just don't seem to really care; if they did, heads would roll at the top and there would be a serious movement in all facets to steer the program in the right direction. It ain't working, Folks !!!

Lance Hobson 4 years, 3 months ago

Mason had his assistant coaches drive him to his mistress' house and wait for him. One just drive off and quit. Classy guy.

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