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Friday, September 22, 2017

Keegan

Tom Keegan: New KU chancellor backs football coach, athletic director

New Kansas chancellor, Doug Girod, left, and KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger, discuss with reporters plans for the athletic department's “Raise The Chant” fund-raising strategy, a facility-focused endeavor which focuses primarily on football and aims to raise $350 million over the course of five years.

New Kansas chancellor, Doug Girod, left, and KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger, discuss with reporters plans for the athletic department's “Raise The Chant” fund-raising strategy, a facility-focused endeavor which focuses primarily on football and aims to raise $350 million over the course of five years.

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A couple of things quickly became clear about the new University of Kansas chancellor, Douglas Girod, during his initial session Friday with reporters who cover KU Athletics.

First, he fully understands the importance of Kansas remaining a power-five school and knows the best way to secure that status lies in elevating the football program to respectability.

It’s not much of a leap then to expect Girod to set high standards for the caretakers of KU football. He won’t tolerate perpetual losing.

Girod also revealed himself as a man who doesn’t seem prone to making emotional decisions. Given that he’s a surgeon, that’s hardly surprising.

His words in support of athletic director Sheahon Zenger, whose two football hires have combined to go 10-53, and football coach David Beaty (3-23) left the impression both men will be in their positions one year from now. Girod, new to the scene, does not seem like a man who will be talked into rushing to judgment.

Can anything that happens over the next nine football games change Girod's mind?

“I think we know that we started this rebuild in a pretty big hole. I think we would all agree with that comment,” Girod said.

No question. Had Zenger’s first hire, Charlie Weis, been left in place for his entire five years of a contract that paid him $12.5 million, he might have reached the center of the earth, which by the way is made of 80 percent iron and 20 percent nickel. Maybe that was Charlie's goal in digging the hole? After all, every nickel counts.

“And I also know in my background, having worked 18 years to help improve KU Medical Center, you’ve got to set a plan, you’ve got to set a course, you’ve to stick with it and you’ve got to give it time to work,” Girod continued. “And it’s not easy and it’s not ever a straight line and you just have to keep fighting, keep pushing and keep moving to the next level. And that’s worked for us in the past.”

Three years, based on Girod’s life experience, is not long enough.

“I think we’re on the right path right now and we’ve just got to keep pushing, give it time, but I do believe we’ve got to show that we mean it and this is a big part of showing that we mean it,” Girod said.

The chancellor listed the traits that he said make him a Beaty believer: “It’s his vision. It’s his integrity. It’s his enthusiasm. It’s his work ethic, and his ability to just really excite players and inspire players. Obviously, that translates into recruiting and even more importantly to on the field.”

It hasn’t been visible on the field yet and it's too early to reach a conclusion on his recruiting.

“When we hired coach Beaty, one of the initial things we said about him is his ability to recruit and I think he’s shown that,” Zenger said.

The jury will remain out on Beaty’s performance as a recruiter through Dec. 20, the first day of the first year of early signing. If the verbal commitments from Louisiana all sign letters of intent, that will lend credibility to the belief that recruiting has been upgraded in a way that makes a difference.

Beaty has recruited some gems, such as defensive end Dorance Armstrong, receiver Steven Sims, and safety Mike Lee, and there is reason to believe both Peyton Bender and Carter Stanley will upgrade the quarterback position, but unless Kansas puts up a better fight in the Big 12 than it did in the two games vs. MAC competition, Beaty's recruiting draws an incomplete grade, at best.

I asked Zenger what is a steeper challenge: Reaching the $350 million fundraising goal in five years or building a football program that can compete in the Big 12? The AD chuckled.

"I'm not sure we have three hours to talk about that and argue both sides of the coin," Zenger said. "You don’t have one without the other. Programs I’ve been associated with in the past, rebuilds, you had to show the commitment to attract the young men to come in.”

Zenger has two possible paths to survival: KU could have a successful capital campaign or Beaty could turn around the football program.

If Zenger succeeds on the first front and Beaty can't turn it around, surely no one will trust Zenger to hire another football coach. But the AD would have a safe landing spot in the Williams Fund, where he could devote his full attention to fundraising, won't have to read the football record of his hires anymore, and will not be let anywhere near any selection committee for another football coach, a job that would fall to the next AD.

Comments

Dyrk Dugan 3 weeks, 4 days ago

So there it is; all the hyperbole and "breaking news "about a news conference announcing the AD's firing, and the football coach has basically this year to turn it all around or he's gone, was and is, pure nonsense. This football program's downward spiral started long before SZ was hired; and longer than that for HCDB. Lew Perkins is the grand poohba of the football program's demise; and it will take at least 4-6 years to have a shot at it getting it turned around. Have you seen how young we are? But when, you need to build with HS kids, and our scholly numbers were so low, this is what you get. We have a nice recruiting class right now goin; you get rid of this coach this year, then it's program shut down time basically. The offense is already demonstrably better; let's see what the conference season shows. This coach AND AD deserve a chance and seeing this thing through; but they must be allowed to have that chance.

Frederick Heckel 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Go preach that BS somewhere else. They've had too many chances and have failed every single one of them. All they had to do was show little bit of progress this year and they couldn't even do that. Beaty is more worried about keeping his buddies on staff than finding good coaches that will actually help. Gump is just a complete idiot that should have been shown the door with Weis' fat ass.

Bryan Mohr 3 weeks, 4 days ago

It will take 4-6 years to beat MAC teams? I disagree. A wise coach would get the program turned around sooner than that by recruiting a combo of 4-year guys and JUCO's. That's what Snyder and Mangino did. It shouldn't take 4 years to beat either CMU or Ohio... or at least come very close to winning (KU wasn't even close). Perkins didn't hire Weis or Beaty. At this point we can't still be blaming Perkins for everything.

Brett McCabe 3 weeks, 4 days ago

I read an article recently that outlined why, regardless of what the actual facts are, some people simply refuse to accept the truth.

Offense greatly improved? KU is 9th in scoring in a 10-team conference. Ahead only of a Baylor team that virtually disbanded a year ago.

Downward spiral began before SZ? Ever heard of Charlie Weis. It's a well-established fact that Zenger's first coaching hire actually resulted in all of the scholarship and depth issue we have now. Lew Perkins wasn't even on campus when Weis and Zenger gutted the program.

Beaty deserves a chance? Why? Based on what? And, three years isn't a chance to show some improvement?

My last and only hope for KU football is that Girod simply didn't want to muddy the water during a huge press conference. Fingers crossed. After all, might as well hope since facts don't really matter.

Randy Bombardier 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Don't let his words fool you. Remember this guy wields a knife for a living. This is schmooze time. Lets get this project rolling is now the top priority and I'm ok with that. But I do believe Zenger was hasty getting rid of Turner Gill. That as much as anything (after the ridiculous firing of Mangino) started the downhill slide.

Bryce Landon 3 weeks, 4 days ago

If anything, Zenger didn't get rid of Turner Gill soon enough. The team was getting worse, not better, with each passing week, their strength and conditioning program was a joke, the players were failing their classes, and Gill had no answers to his problems; all he could say was, "We just gotta keep getting better."

Brett McCabe 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Firing Gill wasn't the problem. Hiring Weis was.

Garry Wright 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Good post and I agree with Dryk Dugan's response. We've dug ourselves into a very deep hole and it's going to take time and patience to get out of it. Firing Beaty and Zenger would only dig the hole deeper and take longer to get out of, if ever.

Doug Cramer 3 weeks, 4 days ago

I like it.

The only person that needs to go is Bowen.

Beaty and Meachum will have the office rolling in 2018, and possibly towed the end of this year.

Brett McCabe 3 weeks, 4 days ago

It's the third year of the Air Raid and we rank next-to-last in the conference in offensive scoring. I'll be interested to see how you define "rolling" by the end of the year.

Steve Jacob 3 weeks, 4 days ago

No way Tom. With each loss the rest of the year, the donors will be lighting up Mr. Girod's,phone. You can not go 1-11 or 2-10 in your third year at a Power 5 school.

Bryce Landon 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Nebraska fired its athletic director recently. But then, as we all know, the powers that be at NU care exponentially more about its football program than the powers that be at KU ever have.

David Friend 3 weeks, 4 days ago

So we will pony up $350 million for a stadium and facilities. In five years when it is completed it will look as good as Colorado States new stadium when they are a conference rival. Put $30 million of that aside and go crazy. Hire Chip Kelly. It actually would be a great fit. And we can serve Kelly's ego. It gives him a chance to turn around one of the worse programs in football and cement a legacy. Kelly is a great college coach. We are willing to pay big dollars for a top basketball program and we can do the same for football. And the ROI for football is far great. We should be a school that has both really good football and great basketball.

Bryce Landon 3 weeks, 3 days ago

Why would Chip Kelly want to come to a place where coaches get fired after 2 or 3 years?

John Brazelton 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Nebraska had a good football program that was winning 9 games every year, but that wasn't good enough for the AD and fans. They wanted to win National Championships. Since Frank Solich has left the program, they've been lucky to win 9 games in any one season. Nebraska also made a mistake by leaving the Big 12. Missouri and Texas A&M haven't done very well either in the SEC. Only Colorado after 5 seasons has finally re-surfaced as a decent football team for at least one season. Like I have said in past posts, a successful football coach is probably not going to stay at KU. Look at our KU coaching history, successful coaches move on and the next coach is never as good and is most always fired.

Dale Rogers 3 weeks, 4 days ago

I have forgotten, when is it we will have a full complement of football scholarships?

Bj Cassady 3 weeks, 4 days ago

The team is playing very well against a great W Virginia team. We have good recruits and we are young. What is disturbing is to look at the stands and see them 80 percent empty. Justifying a huge expense to expand and modernize is one thing but we must put bodies in the stands even if you just open the doors.

Bryce Landon 3 weeks, 3 days ago

If by "playing well", you mean the defense only gave up 600 yards and 56 points instead of 800 yards and 70 points, then, yeah, we played well...

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