The climb from the abyss started when head coach David Beaty put erstwhile third-stringer Carter Stanley in at quarterback and Stanley put a pep in the offense's step.
Then KU scored its first post-World War II victory against Texas and played its most competitive game against Kansas State in the seven seasons since Mark Mangino and Todd Reesing left town.
Next, junior-college QB Peyton Bender, a nationally coveted prolific practitioner of the Air Raid, signed with Kansas.
Then came Thursday’s announcement that TCU co-offensive coordinator Doug Meacham was leaving Gary Patterson’s staff to join Beaty’s. That news showed that two years of head-coaching experience has turned Beaty into a head coach, not an assistant masquerading as the CEO.
Matt Tait and Benton Smith examine exactly what David Beaty's hire of offensive coordinator Doug Meacham says about and does for the Kansas football program.
Meacham’s reputation alone makes this exciting news. The fact that it also means Beaty is not afraid to turn over OC duties on the brink of a season in which the personnel is in place to make the next play-caller look a lot better than the previous one shows Beaty gets it. It’s about winning, not ego gratification. This was a decision devoid of insecurity, one made by a coach who feels support from his boss in the form of a recent contract extension.
Face it and embrace it: The momentum for Kansas football feels more real now than at any moment in the post-Mangino/Reesing years.
Sure, it’s possible Meacham was feeling heat working for the demanding, excitable Patterson, but even if that's the case, it’s difficult to imagine he would have taken this job if he didn’t believe in Bender’s ability to put up big numbers at Kansas.
At TCU, Meacham and co-OC Sonny Cumbie worked with one terrific quarterback, Trevone Boykin, and one overrated one, Kenny Hill.
In his first two seasons with the Horned Frogs, Boykin split time with Casey Pachall and threw 22 touchdown passes and 17 interceptions. Enter Meacham and Cumbie in advance of 2014. In his final two seasons, Boykin threw 64 touchdowns and 20 interceptions.
Meacham was a 2014 finalist for the Frank Broyles Award given to the nation’s top assistant coach after the Horned Frogs soared from 88th in the nation with 25.1 points per game in 2013 to second (46.5 points) in 2014. They finished seventh in 2015 (42.1) and slipped to 52nd in 2016 (31.0) with Hill at QB.
The timing was right for Meacham, a three-year starter at offensive line for Oklahoma State where he blocked for Barry Sanders and Thurman Thomas, to make the move, thus making Beaty's third staff his best.