Monday, December 12, 2016


Tom Keegan: Zenger had no choice but to extend his football coach

Kansas head coach David Beaty runs off the field with his first win after beating Rhode Island 55-6 on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas head coach David Beaty runs off the field with his first win after beating Rhode Island 55-6 on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016 at Memorial Stadium.


The outrage from many in Jayhawk Nation to the doubling of head football coach David Beaty’s salary and the extension of his contract is understandable at an emotional level.

A 2-22 coach receives a 100 percent raise and an extension? Sign me up.

A head coach who had too much on his plate to begin with and takes on offensive coordinator duties, leads his offense to a 109th-place finish among 128 FBS schools, takes over teaching punt returners, and the unit finishes last in the nation with negative yardage, shows a penchant for the quarterback quick-punt play and he gets rewarded?

Head to the gym and flail away at the heavy bag. Your emotions deserve that type of an outlet.

But it’s Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger’s job to make decisions with his head, ones that are best for the football program, not easiest to explain to the fan base.

The issue of whether Beaty was the right hire to succeed Charlie Weis in the first place is a separate discussion. As for extending him at this moment, Zenger made the right call.

Zenger’s only other option was to fire him and since Kansas has proven doing that every few years isn’t the answer, extending Beaty with a $3 million buyout was the way to go.


1 - Why not just leave his contract as is and bring him back?

Because to do so would be to enable coaches recruiting against Kansas to continue to paint the school as one that cares only about basketball, isn’t committed to football, fires its coach every few years and is on the verge of firing another one.

Podcast episode


Reaction to the contract extension given by KU to football coach David Beaty

Spodcasters Matt Tait, Benton Smith and Bobby Nightengale react to the contract extension given by KU to football coach David Beaty.

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Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying they don’t still enter living rooms armed with negative fodder, the 2-22 record, for example, but this removes the accusation that KU’s administration thinks football’s a joke.

2 - Was this a reaction to Beaty possibly leaving for a better job?

No. Beaty had no leverage. So why give him more security and higher pay, then? Zenger had to show that Kansas takes football seriously and even though Beaty still is the lowest-paid head football coach in the Big 12, his salary is in the same ballpark as a few of them.

3 - Why not incentivize the contract based on victories, paying a certain amount per victory?

Good idea on paper. Bad idea in practice. A coach getting paid for victories will base all of his recruiting philosophy on winning today and not building in any way for the future. He would load the roster with jucos and four-year transfers, an approach that fails every time. If anything, I’m a little concerned Beaty is relying a bit too heavily on transfers, and not enough on high school recruits. Some are too good to pass up though, such as Alabama transfer receiver Daylon Charlot, and juco transfers Peyton Bender (quarterback), Hasan Defense (cornerback) and J.J. Holmes (defensive tackle), to name a few.

4 - How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

Woodchucks can't chuck wood, which makes that a hypothetical question. Following the lead of coaches and politicians, I don't answer hypothetical questions.


Brett McCabe 5 years, 1 month ago

I think your first point nailed it - I suppose opposing coaches, especially this off-season when Beaty appears to be making some recruiting inroads, would really hammer on the lack of institutional support for a 2-22 coach.

Michael Bennett 5 years, 1 month ago

Nothing changed since he's still the lowest paid coach. A commitment would be top 5. They just pissed away more Money playing "keep up with the Joneses" rather than putting the money into something that might help. I'd prefer they pay the money to the dad of some 5* star QB who coached his son's 7's program like they do in B-ball

Tom Keegan 5 years, 1 month ago

Plenty has changed. $1.6 sounds a ton better than $800,000. As for QB, all they had to pay to get Bender was available playing time. Expectations won't be high for him because every still feeling sting of Crist and Heaps, but I'd be shocked if he doesn't hook up with Daylon Charlot for several TD's and a few wins.

Suzi Marshall 5 years, 1 month ago

It was probably (hopefully) a close call to extend Beaty's contract. I would have preferred waiting until next year. However, a $3MM buyout isn't all that bad should the worst case scenario develop.

Edward Daub 5 years, 1 month ago

I do not understand Question #4.

I do nominate Chuck Woodling to provide Answer #4 (I grew up reading his Notes and Quotes).

Zenger has to back Beaty, he won't be allowed to hire a third coach! The New Chancellor will be told , as a condition of his/her hiring.

Steve Corder 5 years, 1 month ago

Jon Kirby, Jayhawk Slant, nailed this a week ago or so. The smart move.

Good coaches learn early-on and are able to adjust. Even Self admitted as much when he was a new head coach at ORU & Tulsa.

What Beaty has, or I think he has, is energy and passion on the recruiting trail, which should show results.

Jay Beakum 5 years, 1 month ago

Relying too heavily on transfers? His most promising players are freshmen that he recruited. Armstrong, Stanley, Wise ( soph), Lonecker, Sims, and that hard hitting safety who's name escapes me at the moment.

To me that's the best reason to extend him. He's shown he can build a team by developing talent off the scrap pile, which is all Kansas can do for now.

Dillon Davis 5 years, 1 month ago

How about a contract stipulation that says he has to hire an Offensive Coordinator and Special Teams Coordinator? He absolutely CANNOT run both of those again. If you made the wrong hire in your assistants, fine. Replace and move forward. If we rank similarly in those offensive and special teams categories again next year then this extension will be highly scrutinized.

Joe Joseph 5 years, 1 month ago

This was the first season since the firing of Mangino that Kansas football has shown (almost) undeniable progress over the course of the season and from one season to the next. I'm not a huge fan of the raw terms of the deal, but I do agree that some form of extension/raise was due for the reasons outlined by Tom. Mainly recruiting. This shows some commitment and stability.

Hopefully some pay raises were thrown the way of some of his assistants as well. I have a hard time believing Beaty can continue to endure the type of coaching turnover he has experienced in his first two seasons.

Recruit the heck out of linemen and this program will be back to respectability in a few years.

Harold Wayne 5 years, 1 month ago

I am connected with a different group of people than you are Keegs. I have only heard applause that Beaty was given a raise and an extension. For the casual fan, only the wins and losses count. But if one paid close attention, one can easily tell how much progress has been made over the last two years. After the Gill and Weis debacle, KU football was so far down, it was similar to having suffered the death penalty. We were around 25 players short of a full roster last year. Beaty had to recruit some JC players just to be able to scrimmage in practice.

I'm not suggesting that everything is coming up roses but we are definitely headed in the right direction. The win over Texas and the close losses to TCU AND ISU, along with the very competitive game against the land grant school to our west, speaks volumes to how far we've come. PLUS we had 11 players on the All Big 12 team (counting honorable mention). This shows not only recruiting but development. It's a joke of the worse kind to suggest (you aren't) to having dismissal as even a remote option. DB is our man, I suggest everyone get behind him and one day you can make fun of all the new bandwagon fans. I anticipate 3-6 wins next year.

Tom Keegan 5 years, 1 month ago


I think you and most of the people who take the time to comment on this site about KU football follow the ups and downs of the program more closely than many of those who stuffed my email inbox yesterday.

Definite signs of progress, which made this the only move Zenger could make.

Calvin Miller 5 years, 1 month ago

The concern is not the extension. The concern is the doubled salary, with the resultant large in crease in the buyout. Let's be realistic here: Zenger will be gone after the new Chancellor is hired; if the new AD cares about football, he will hire his own choice of football HC.

Harold Wayne 5 years, 1 month ago

And you absolutely know Zenger is going to be gone? Not what I hear. Big donors make that decision, not the new Chancellor. And the big donors are happy with the direction and momentum of the program. You may not have noticed but there are additional improvements going on in the player facilities. Zenger is far from a lame duck.

Brett McCabe 5 years, 1 month ago

Three to Six wins? About as close as a hand grenade.

Beaty will succeed when he gets out of his own way. Not before.

David Kemp 5 years, 1 month ago

Bowen should get the medal. His defense improved by 1300 yards and almost 10 ppl less whereas the Beaty offense improved by 300 yards and threw 8 more ints and barely budged ppg excluding Rhode Island and defensive scores and tos.

David Williams 5 years, 1 month ago

I do understand the progress internally being made, although I do not believe that this translates into a raise and extension. btw whose fault was it that KU was so down that it was almost similar to the death penalty? The AD's - this is a CYA exercise on his part, because he has no choice. Why is he still employed again? I highly doubt he will be this time next year.

Two things that have been mentioned which need to be addressed -

  1. There MUST be stipulations to hire a separate OC and ST coach, if that is an issue (the OC question is rhetorical). The defense did a great job and improved significantly, so kudos to Bowen and his staff on that side of the ball. However, as noted by others the O was nationally awful by any ranking methodology, and I simply do not foresee improvement with the coaching setup currently in place. It is neither acceptable nor sustainable.

  2. IMO most of the improvement in this year to last year has been the result of the assistants, ie LB coach, Perry, Hull, Bowen, etc. Are they getting any raises/extensions in this situation? If not, that should be a serious concern...if I were one of the assistants and not getting in on this action, I would be extremely upset.

Probably 3 wins next year, not what would be justified for a doubling of salary and extension at the HC level.

Harold Wayne 5 years, 1 month ago

The raise still keeps him at the bottom of P5 football programs. The raise shows that KU has a commitment to football. If you don't think that is important then here is what I know happens when KU football is recruiting a kid: the negative recruiting talk centers around KU being a basketball only school, evidenced in how poorly our FB coach is paid... if an extension and raise was not given, we would have severely hurt DB's ability to do what he does best: recruit.

David Williams 5 years, 1 month ago

We will have to agree to disagree. No other respectable P5 school would give a raise and extension to a HC who has gone 2-22. I just do not buy it.

Olympia Wilson 5 years, 1 month ago

Right on David! Can't believe it took this far into the comments for someone to bring that up. Can ANYBODY, ever in history show me where a coach who went 2-22, a 8% winning percentage doubled their pay?

Freddie Garza 5 years, 1 month ago

DOUBLED his pay and is STILL the lowest paid coach in the league? He was underpaid to begin with based on the job he took, the rebuilding project that it is, and based on and what the going rate is, even for a lowly program like ours.

You have to understand who we are as a football program before you go on this instant gratification rant. Look at it from a different perspective...Beaty is tasked with the job of attempting to turn OUR program into a winner somehow, which very well may be the most difficult job in college football.

Karen Mansfield-Stewart 5 years, 1 month ago

I don't disagree David. I think this is as much about Zenger's job as it is about Beaty's. Regardless, I think Beaty can and will improve as a HC. Ideally, I wish we would have waited until we showed more progress on the scoreboard and used the $800,000+ to keep improving our facilities or hiring a solid OC.

Harlan Hobbs 5 years, 1 month ago

Extremely well written and analyzed situation, Mr. Keegan. It is always easy to pick the "low hanging fruit" which in this case would have been to delay such a decision. However, as you clearly and concisely state, KU's only hope is to build upward consistency in the program.

The fact is that, in the Big 12, KU football is light years away from being competitive with most of the programs in the conference, including the one to our west. Unless we are satisfied with being the doormat, then there is no other choice.

Even though we only won 2 games this year, the team was far better and more competitive than last year. Hopefully, the win over Texas was a sign that we can start being a program that plays to win rather than play to not lose.

With all of the various potential conference realignments that are frequently in the news, KU is in no position to upgrade its status without a semblance of a decent football program. As it stands now, our meal ticket is basketball, and that keeps us in good stead. However, if we can't be competitive in the Big 12, then there is no realistic expectation that we would be attractive to other major conferences, where the competition is probably even greater.

Harlan Hobbs 5 years, 1 month ago

I should also add that I have a lot of respect for Coach Beaty. He is the right man for the job in my opinion, and I hope that KU gives him all the time he needs to get things straightened out. He has the character and enthusiasm that we need.

Bob Bailey 5 years, 1 month ago

Bad News.

Can't function as OC; Defensive Scheme is unacceptable. All progress has to be attributed to the position coaches. We are out of line keeping Zenger. A new AD might prescribe an improvement, keeping much of the progress in place. As it is, we are stuck with bad improvement next year, and an unpalatable buyout!

Harold Wayne 5 years, 1 month ago

DB just got commitments from two studs who will be here in January and both meet big needs: a defensive end and a corner back. As I said above, we're headed in the right direction! #neatdeal X @

Harlan Hobbs 5 years, 1 month ago

So, Bob, the merry-go-round just continues? Time will tell if Coach Beaty can turn things around, but I want KU to give him the best possible chance to do so. Besides, what kind of coach could we attract if we don't do what we can to support the current staff?

Unfortunately, it is easy to be a naysayer who can go from issue to issue without saying anything positive, encouraging, or uplifting. The real talent to leadership is doing the opposite. All we have to do is look at Bill Self and his staff for confirmation.

Chris Shaw 5 years, 1 month ago

I'm not a big football talker but the "Contract Extension" does make sense. Kansas football can't compete "Nationally" with other major football programs across the country. Let's face it, this is the stonecold truth and we as fans have to start accepting this.

With this said, sometimes history can repeat itself. Kansas can't just fire and hire coaches and expect to be "Successful". Kansas also can't expect to be on the same 4/5 year plan as everyone else the country.

A great model for doing things right is just 90 minutes down the road in Manhattan, KS. If you remember, back in the Mid to Late 80's Kansas and Kansas State was playing what they called the "Toilet Bowl."

Bill Snyder was apart of that "Toilet Bowl", but slowly he started scheduling smarter and positioning his teams where "W's" turned into confidence for not only his players, but his program. Sure, it took almost a decade for the Wildcats to gain respectively Nationally, but Bill Snyder is a Hall of Fame Coach now that isn't an easy game on the schedule.

I'm not sure if Beatty is the right man or not, I'm hoping they trust and stick with this guy and I'm hoping Beatty shows the loyalty back and doesn't leave at the first sign of success. If he has the ability to turn the program around.

In order for KU to be successful again...KU is gonna have to commit to a Snyder like (Hopefully it's Beatty) coach and think outside of the box in terms of scheduling and then hope the Big 12 schedule allows KU to get some "W's" so it can it work it's way back to a .500 program.

IMO that's the only way a football program like Kansas is gonna turn around. Patience, faith, loyalty, a Kansas guy first, and someone who truly believe in the Kansas Football program is the only way it's every gonna turn around and then sustain that success.

I like the Beatty contract extension if and only if he's the guy they believe can turn the program around for long-haul. This isn't a short-term fix.

Don Everett 5 years, 1 month ago

For this to even have a chance to turn around, KU has to give Beatty at least 6 years. Let him get his recruits in for an extended amount of time. If after 6 years there are no advances, then think about a replacement. Until the, we all have to support the coaches and players. RCJGKU!!!

Ben Kane 5 years, 1 month ago

Not having read this article i can agree. it is the right move. this is the state of college football. extend or move on. poop or get or off the pot.

Harlan Hobbs 5 years, 1 month ago

Nice memory and summary, Chris. Just about 9 years ago, we won the Orange Bowl in what was our third straight bowl appearance under Coach Mangino, if my memory serves me well. How far down we have gone since then completely demonstrates the challenge.

Freddie Garza 5 years, 1 month ago

I'm glad to see that some people are willing to get behind this coach with the understanding that Bill Belichik himself couldn't turn this program into a winner in 3 years.

David Beaty is tasked with perhaps the most difficult job in college football...attempting to turn the Kansas Jayhawks into a winner. In order to do that, you have to give him PLENTY of time. This thing about hiring a new coach every 3 years isn't gonna cut it. Now, it didn't take a rocket scientist to see that the previous two guys were a couple of bozos who were in WAY over their heads. But I think this guy is quality.

I see a guy who maybe wins 3 games next year. Maybe wins 3 games the year after that. Then a couple of years down the road...with patience from all involved, we suddenly have a football team that comes out of nowhere, who nobody was expecting to finish anywhere but in the bottom 2 of the league that is now suddenly competitive. Maybe that's a .500 team, but hey, that's big time progress for us. We get to that point, and suddenly we're in business.

But it takes patience from all involved.

Michael Bennett 5 years, 1 month ago

If job security and negative recruiting were effective, the program to the west would have died a decade ago. Snyder is older than dirt, has already retired once and he still gets better talent than KU. What the HC makes is probably item 15-20 on a recruits +/- list. I don't think anyone expected a complete turnaround, or even more than 2-3 wins, but 2-22 doesn't warrant a raise. If you were hired by your company and your boss said "Hey, we're in bad shape. Last year the guy in your job only sold 200 widgets. We need you to sell 500. Two years later you sold 300. Do you think you're going to go in and say double my salary because we improved?". Now, we don't know what Zenger said when he hired him. All I'm saying is just because we're closer to the bottom of the scrap heap doesn't mean we're not still the bottom of the scrap heap. There was no urgency in signing the guy. All this talk about it helping recruiting is a bunch of old people just guessing that aren't involved in the recruiting process. The best talent is still not coming to KU because we won two games. His expertise has to be in locating the hidden talents, not competing for the top end guys. Doubling his salary isn't going to change his ability to find hidden talent.

Harold Wayne 5 years, 1 month ago

Explain why we are getting one of the top running backs in Texas this coming year.

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