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Friday, December 21, 2018

Les Miles: KU played ‘catch-up’ in recruiting once he took over

Newly hired University of Kansas football coach Les Miles speaks to the media Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, at Hadl Auditorium.

Newly hired University of Kansas football coach Les Miles speaks to the media Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, at Hadl Auditorium.

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On the day Les Miles was introduced as the Kansas football program’s next head coach, back on Nov. 18, Miles said hiring coordinators and position coaches would be a key step in the recruiting process, because those new staff members would be able to lay out their plans and deliver their pitches to prospects.

That bit of foreshadowing from the former LSU head coach, who inherited a 2019 KU recruiting class with just one player committed, proved true.

In-state high school prospects Jayden Russell and Mason Fairchild became the first two players to commit to Miles three weeks after he was hired.

At that point, Miles had only two assistants in place: defensive backs coach Chevis Jackson and offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey.

In the two-plus weeks that followed, the Jayhawks’ list of recruits grew while Miles also sought out more assistants. The Jayhawks now have 11 players tied to the 2019 class, as December’s early signing period concluded on Friday.

Miles hasn’t spoken with any local media outlets since his introductory press conference, though the Journal-World has requested interviews with the new coach since then. Miles did speak this week with CBS Sports Network and ESPN about the recruiting challenges he encountered the past few weeks.

"The time could not go fast enough until I had my staff," Miles said earlier this week in a phone interview with ESPN. "As soon as I had my staff, we played catch-up, but we caught up very effectively."

Other than quarterback Torry Locklin, who committed to David Beaty back in February, Miles and his staff picked up commitments from 10 new recruits since taking over. Only two-star defensive lineman Da’Jon Terry has not been formally announced by KU as a signee among the 11 prospects for Miles’ first recruiting class.

Miles told ESPN the staff plans to sign three to five more players in February, which would put the total number of recruits in the class right around 15, as KU’s coach previously indicated would be the case.

"I'm having as much fun as anybody should be allowed to have," Miles told ESPN of his first month on the job.

Recruiting class ranking

While most college football programs won’t have their 2019 signing classes completed until February’s National Signing Day, Rivals provides a glimpse at how KU’s group stacks up with the rest of the nation at this point.

While, predictably, programs such as Alabama, Georgia, LSU and Clemson are at the top of the 2019 team recruiting rankings, KU sat at 96th as of Friday.

It’s worth noting the points system used to determine the rankings takes into account not only the number of stars given to prospects, but also the number of players in a team’s recruiting class.

Because KU currently only has 10 players (Rivals isn’t including Locklin on its list) and the class will never be more than 15 or so players deep, the Jayhawks aren’t really capable of ranking very high on the list.

KU’s 2019 class will end up roughly 10 shy of the NCAA maximum of 25 players because, over the past few years, Beaty and his staff utilized blueshirts, athletes who don’t sign letters of intent but join the program on scholarship and count toward the following year’s recruiting class.

Looking at strictly the average star rating for players in each team’s class, per Rivals, KU ranks 59th, with its average being 2.7 stars per player.

Only seven Power 5 programs rank lower than KU in that category: Arizona, Wake Forest, Duke, Rutgers, Oregon State, Kansas State and Vanderbilt.

Comments

Brett McCabe 3 weeks, 5 days ago

It will be really interesting to see how Miles handles the last 5 scholarships. He'll have a definitive plan and the staff to execute it. I absolutely cannot wait for the spring game.

Dane Pratt 3 weeks, 5 days ago

Same here, but as always I'll feel better after the ink dries.

Ashwin Rao 3 weeks, 5 days ago

All is not bad. I am sure he can use the "blueshirt" option too if the player is good enough, and matches our needs.

Dane Pratt 3 weeks, 5 days ago

The service academies routinely rank in the 100+ range and are outperforming us. North Dakota State is probably in the 130 range. You can build a pretty good program with a healthy dose 3 star players. Plenty of programs are doing it and not just Duke & K-State.

Michael Sillman 3 weeks, 5 days ago

I wonder why the big kid from Mississippi hasn’t signed with the Jayhawks yet. Is he waiting for the spring signing period to see if other teams show interest?

Jeff Coffman 3 weeks, 5 days ago

I'll be excited when we can recruit 25 players year over year. I didn't even know a blue-shirt existed until last year when we used it appears 10.

I do think we got some players, but JUCOs run a little high risk, and some may not pan out. I'm glad with what is put together, I think it is high on the JUCO ranks, which is not great.

I like an extra QB in the mix, and I was under the impression that some of these JUCOs are actually 3 year players which should provide an increase in likelihood of success.

All that being said, I'm with everyone else, an exciting spring game followed by kick-off will come quickly.

Dirk Medema 3 weeks, 5 days ago

Jeff - If you check out the starting OL and previous recruiting classes, I think you will find that just about all the starters were Blueshirts - don't appear on a traditional recruiting class lists. Adeniji was one of the first. He was the HS variety. Beaty used it really effectively to rebuild the roster, though people were too busy criticizing him (he did have faults) to acknowledge and appreciate what he was doing right. Last year was probably the most we ever used.

The extra year for the Jcs is definitely nice. This again was a common trait of Beaty's JC, and a HUGE contrast with the previous regime. It was why it was so irresponsible for writers and commenters to blindly and simply refer to the recruits as JCs. Miles Kendrick is a great example. He'll be on campus longer than most HS recruits, though he played a year at a JC (1 semester) and will have that label in the minds of some.

Brett McCabe 3 weeks, 4 days ago

The only thing to acknowledge about the Beaty era is that he did virtually everything wrong. He sold-out the program on a short-term fix to try and save his job (that's part of his classy guy routine), lost almost every game he coached against reasonable competition, lost to the worst KSU team in 20+ years, left the program with 15 available scholarships, one verbal commitment, and a looming sinkhole in exiting players. You are what your record says you are: two conference wins, one verbal commitment, 15 scholarships and a $3 million dollar extortion wrenched from a fellow dum-dum. Facts are facts. He accomplished nothing that the average Joe or Jane, pulled by random from the audience of an Elton John concert, couldn't have achieved. Less, in fact. He'll go down as the worst or second worst coach in KU history because he earned it. And yet, quitters who think that this program deserves no better continue to make excuses for him long after he is gone.

Micky Baker 3 weeks, 4 days ago

I'd suggest putting your emotions aside before you post so there is at least some rational responses from you.

Chris Bailey 3 weeks, 2 days ago

I agree Brett. There truly is no reason to make excuses for him. Most of the players had no faith in his ability to coach either. I have spoken with several friends that have direct contact with the program. They've all said the same thing, nice guy and inept coach in way over his head. No excuse for us to lose some of the games we lost under him. If he was improving we'd have won a few games we weren't suppose to win. I believe we won ONE game in 4 years that was an upset. We didn't show much improvement. I wonder what we'd have done had Pooka not been there this season. Either way those losses are ALL on Beaty and his inability to coach up his players.

Jeff Coffman 3 weeks, 4 days ago

So Beaty recruited Blue-shirts, which set our recruiting charts 10 behind this year to go 3-9? I'm trying to avoid the looking back at Beaty...I know I was excited about Beaty, but it seemed like he was over his head...going 0-12 his first year confirmed that. In the second year, getting lucky to win 2 games, I was very disappointed that we extended him. The way he recruited has not aided the program and we should not have kept him after year 3. Year 3 perpetuated his recruiting woes because of the overuse of Blue-shirts. 10 just is too many, unless if I don't understand how you go from 25 to 15, unless it is blue-shirts.

I get that you have to fill injuries, unexpected departures, misses on talent, but at some point in time you have to build the roster.

Chris Bailey 3 weeks, 2 days ago

But it lead to us hiring a really good coach IMO.

Dirk Medema 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Brett - That you would apply the quitter tag to someone else is so absurd it is hilarious.

Didn't you quit on the season in August even before it began?

Didn't you spend the fall in Iowa City?

Weren't you the original inspiration for the term when you quit in the middle of the gold game in Korea?

"Facts are facts" and yet your entire comment is consistent with so many others you've made mostly devoid of facts. Absurdly hilarious, and yet exactly what we've all come to expect from you.

Chris Bailey 3 weeks, 2 days ago

You're defending Beaty? You aren't happy with 6 wins in 4 seasons? Seriously, 6-42 how can this be anything but a complete and utter failure by a head coach? He was in over his head from day one and should never have been hired. Because you defend him and are all rah rah about him doesn't make you a better fan. You seem so invested in a terrible coach that you can't objectively say he sucks. I mean let's face it our comments on this board don't affect his job performance at all. If they do he's in the wrong profession, period. He was paid well to do a job and I don't feel one bit sorry for him. We now owe him 3 million in a buyout which is more than most people will make in a lifetime. Sorry but he doesn't get a pass from me and I understand you and Brett argue often. I'm not defending that just the stance that Beaty stunk it up badly for all 4 years and never would have had us winning.

Ray Winger 3 weeks, 4 days ago

I would like to stop denigrating players, because they came from JC, or Community College. Michael Bishop, Bill Whittemore, Arron Rodgers, and many others came up that way. I see two issues, 1) their early development was in JC Control, and 2) are they good enough to get on the field and contribute.

Steve Corder 3 weeks, 5 days ago

What does it say about local sports writers when Miles goes to big time media outlets first?

Jeff Coffman 3 weeks, 5 days ago

He wants publicity and has the history with the big network to get the interviews with them. This is a win for KU, plus there have been articles about KU besides the Bottom 10 one, this will only help KU.

Mike Hart 3 weeks, 4 days ago

“Quitters”... that’s an interesting term for the always affable McCabe to toss out there at Dirk. I recall Dirk BEING here commenting all football season while “others” threw in the towel and gave up ... “quit” the team before the season even began. Mr McCabe was calling for Beaty’s head midway through 2016 season... Beaty’s 2nd... and Beaty’s first season as HC where he had a full year to recruit. Interesting, because the theme THEN was that Beaty should go H.S. route and not Juco... yet midway through season 2 and after drafting HS recruits on a decimated roster ... McCabe wanted results on the field in season 2. Fast forward to 2019.. and if you drink the kool-aid.. suddenly Miles has as daunting a task (not reAlly) as Beaty had... and if things go sour in season 1 OR season 2 (which they won’t)... it will STILL be Beaty’s fault. But then again, if it goes well... heck, that’s all Les Miles! Pick your yardstick... and apply it to everyone equally.

Len Shaffer 3 weeks, 4 days ago

I think Brett is mostly right, although I think he goes overboard when he sarcastically refers to Beaty's "classy guy routine."

Since there are a number of you who are still apologists for Beaty, I will pose to you a question I've posed before, and that has never been answered:

Please explain to me why Beaty would be in the middle of the second quarter in a game, down by 7 or 10 points, would stand next to the referee waiting for the play clock to count down to 1 (as if he was at the end of a close game and about to kick a game-winning field goal), and would then call time out. He made that move at least three times that I can recall, and I cannot for the life of me think of a SINGLE reason why he would do that. Keep in mind that we were behind, so it made absolutely no sense to waste time.

PLEASE, Beaty apologists, explain why anyone in his right mind would do something like that. To me, it was a microcosm of how truly horrible a coach Beaty was. And frankly, I also can't fathom why no reporter ever asked him about it.

Chris Kennedy 3 weeks, 4 days ago

I noticed that too, in one game I watched. I also wondered what he was doing calling runs up the middle in the 4th quarter in another game this season (can't remember which one), when we were down by 2 scores.

Maybe he was just trying to keep the losing margin smaller, in hopes of keeping his job? Does anyone else have an explanation?

Mike Hart 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Len, I don't think you are going to find what you refer to as "Beaty apologists"... defending anything about Beaty's play calling, clock management... nor even the decision to fire him. You won't hear Beaty "apologists" calling him a great coach. What you have been hearing... is the rotten treatment and non-stop criticism of each and every thing that he did. Nothing was right... no matter what he did. So... granted on all of the above for your entire post. I'm all for constructive criticism of David Beaty for what he lacked as a head coach, clock manager, etc. But it does not justify the extra efforts many took to crucify the man and make it more personal. My speaking out on David Beaty's behalf is to comment on the overly critical treatment of the coach... as a man. You can't say: Welcome to KU in Dec 2014... and then say go hire high school recruits... and be midway through season 2... and calling for the man's job already.

Dane Pratt 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Len, I'm not a Beaty apologist but I am a KU apologist. If an athlete wears the KU jersey or a coach is on the KU sideline, in my mind he is a Jayhawk and as such deserves the respect and camaraderie that I would afford any fellow Jayhawk. If I ran into David Beaty on the street I would shake his hand, thank him for his service and wish him future success.

Len Shaffer 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Mike and Dane make good points. I do agree that the criticism shouldn't have gotten personal (e.g., Brett's "classy" remark), but I have no problem with constant criticism of his abilities as a coach, and I don't think halfway through year 2 was too early.

The problem wasn't that he was losing and didn't have the talent; the problem was that a lot of us could see at an early stage that he didn't know what he was doing. No one expected a miracle after the mess that Charlie Weis left, but we did expect to see signs of progress, and until this year there were none.

Then even this year, when the team was clearly the best Beaty had had, he still made a lot of inexplicable decisions. So the biggest frustration was that it didn't appear he was really growing as a head coach, but simply that he had slightly more overall talent this year and was able to squeak out some victories.

Dirk Medema 3 weeks, 4 days ago

There were plenty of people expecting a miracle. In spite of a general recognition that the roster was decimated to begin with, and would take years to rebuild, the expectation was that he should be winning in year 2. You even said as much in your first paragraph. It's the epitome of the microwave society that says grow into the position, but do it in one season with no roster and an underfunded staff. His entire coaching salary budget was less to start than some programs spend on just one coach.

Joe Ross 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Rankings of recruits don't matter (well they do, but they don't). What I mean is that what's MOST important is the performance you can get out of your players on the field, and that has to do with coaching. Some 4-stars will underperform. Some 2-stars can play lights out. "What will we do with the talent that comes on board" is the question. Coach these guys up. Make them play!

Andy Tweedy 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Yeah, but it's just like why the Yankees and Red Sox have a competitive advantage. When you have more star players, you can absorb the losses in recruiting. We have the thinnest of thin margins for error.

George Johnston 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Mike Hart, you make it sound as if expecting results within two years is unreasonable.

Defining "improvement" as "more victories than the year before the coach started," Pepper Rodgers improved in his first season, Mike Gottfried improved in his first season, Glen Mason improved in his second season, and Mark Mangino improved in his second season.

Let's look at it another way.

Of KU's 38 coaches, only nine have served for five or more years. Of the nine, six coaches increased the number of victories within 3 years. Two of the remaining three coaches took over teams that won 5 games in a 10 game season. Both of those coaches got 5 wins with fewer losses within 3 years. (The number of wins remained the same but the number of ties increased, so there were fewer losses.) The only coach not to improve the team's record in either victories or winning percentage was J. V. Sikes. He took over from a George Sauer team that was 8-1-2 and Sikes never did better than 7-3.

I only checked a few other schools but the pattern was consistent: improvement within three years or never. Therefore, it is reasonable to expect better play within two years and more victories within three. In 2018, Beaty's fourth year, he won three games, the same number as Weiss and Bowen combined for the year before Beaty was hired.

Micky Baker 3 weeks, 4 days ago

It isn't that McCabe expected improvement. Everyone did, and some saw improvement that McCabe completely disregarded. It is a true statement that in the circumstances that KU was in at the time that there could be significant improvement in areas of the team without winning any more games the year before. I remember on recent team that lost 11 games one season, then the next year they won the national championship. They made major strides in that 11 loss season, but because the w-l record didn't improve, by the logic used by McCabe, there is no improvement. That is an irrational sort of reasoning.

George Johnston 3 weeks, 3 days ago

Micky Baker, on four years, Beaty improved Total Offense from 115th to 110th and Scoring Offense from 115th to 104th. The offense he inherited was really, really bad and the offense he left was still really, really bad. He did better on Defense. Total Defense went from 106th to 83rd and Scoring Defense from 104th to 82nd. He inherited a defense that was really, really bad and left a defense that was just really bad. The improvement was all in 2018 because Total Defense ranked 127th, 109th, and 117th Beaty's first three years. The rankings for Scoring Defense were very similar. I don't know whether that was real improvement or luck.

Dirk Medema 3 weeks, 4 days ago

How many of the previous coaches started with half a roster and half a coaching salary budget?

To perform any analysis without considering all of the facts is just flawed.

George Johnston 3 weeks, 3 days ago

I know, I know. In the 150 seasons of college football, no other coach has ever faced such a bad situation. Beaty did such a great job improving KU under the circumstances that Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame, and Oklahoma are all competing for his services. Want to buy a slightly used bridge?

It's hard to tell just how much of a roster Beaty had because I see numbers all over the place. Is there an official list?

However many players were on scholarship, it is noteworthy that KU's defense only had 3 starters that weighed as much as Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch.

I thought that Beaty got a low salary (and his assistants less) because he didn't have much experience. Is there anything that says authoritatively whether it was that or whether it was that KU was spending too much on coaches who were no longer coaching?

In any case, I think that Beaty did a great job of assembling his first set of assistants. After the season, one assistant got a promotion elsewhere and others lateraled to Arkansas, Oklahoma, and the Denver Broncos, teams not known as the last refuges for football incompetents. It seems that the budget didn't prevent hiring competent assistants although it may have hindered efforts to retain them.

My biggest issue is that I don't see how a shortage of scholarships relates to the problems I identified.

George Johnston 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Len Shaffer, excellent point.

Here are what I see as Beaty's problems.

  1. Beaty can't evaluate talent. He benched Montel Cozart, Ryan Willis, and Jake Sternberger. All performed well after transferring. One person argued that the improved performance was because the players were on better teams. That doesn't explain why players who start on other teams (and are All Big 12) weren't good enough to play at KU.

  2. Beaty is indecisive. He always had trouble deciding on a starting quarterback. Indeed, his first 2018 depth chart was almost a three-deep because there were so many positions where he couldn't decide who was first or second best. He also frequently burned a lot of time trying to decide on calls.

  3. Beaty plays favorites. Look at his comments about Carter Stanley after the Oklahoma State game.

  4. Beaty based his decisions on the starting QB on performance in practice, not on performance in the game. I can't find his exact words but they were something like, "The fans don't see who does well in practice."

  5. Beaty can't delegate. in 2016, he took over play calling, OC duties, QB duties, and punt returns -- none of those areas improved after he took over. In 2018, he took over play calling, OC duties, and QB duties and again none of those areas improved.

  6. Even though Beaty is often indecisive, he is stubborn when he should be flexible. He tried to force players into an offense incompatible with their skills instead of adjusting the offense to maximize their skills.

  7. Beaty is secretive. He wouldn't reveal the number of scholarships, who was on scholarship, or who would play. Fans are still arguing over how many scholarship players he had when he started and how many he had when he left.

  8. Beaty's play calling was terrible.

I can't see how those characteristics are related to the scholarships or culture that Beaty inherited when he started.

Micky Baker 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Ludicrous. Play calling was much better after the OC was fired and Pookah became the man. I hope Pookah gets his act together and that his suspension is lifted. He has a chance to be one of the Big 12 greats, not just a Kansas great. All of those areas areas improved after Beaty took over after firing the OC. Bender played better, the offense scored more points, and the offense was more organized on game days. Yeah, the O-line performed better too. Absurd list.

Len Shaffer 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Micky, I'm still waiting for you (or ANYONE) to respond to my comment about Beaty letting the seconds tick down before calling timeout.

Anyone ... Bueller ...

Len Shaffer 3 weeks, 4 days ago

And BTW, you might learn how to, I don't know, spell the name of the BEST PLAYER ON THE TEAM. It's Pooka, not Pookah.

Len Shaffer 3 weeks, 4 days ago

But then, really, what should I expect from someone who seems to believe everything out of our "president's" mouth.

Dirk Medema 3 weeks, 4 days ago

George - It's unlikely that anyone is going to defend Beaty's game management. It wasn't good, but that doesn't make everything else about him bad. I would suggest to you that there are always 2 ways of looking at any situation - a positive and a negative. It seems that you have consistently chosen the negative.

  1. Got no explanation for Jake. I was disappointed to hear he left, but suspect that part of it was that his position is one that is squeezed out of some offenses these days. Willis on the other hand started his own demise when he broke his wrist in a pick-up BB game during the offseason that took him out of a crucial sophomore year spring camp. It pretty much culminated in the 7 INT in just parts of 2 games performance. Montel did fairly well, but was limited in ability, and didn't lead his program of choice in his Sr year either. He was a situational back-up, and still wasn't the leader we needed.

  2. Beaty had trouble deciding on a starting QB because the options weren't showing the performing at a level that he knew was needed to win in the Big 12. It stinks, and is the reason he continued to recruit QB's. Naming someone a starter doesn't some how magically elevate their abilities to a Big 12 level.

  3. It wasn't a matter of playing favorites. It was a matter of evaluating ability. It is the same evaluation Miles made when he spent one of the precious few scholarships this year recruiting over Carter. Read the articles - It was a must get for the program. Changing coaches doesn't instantly change a players ability.

  4. No comment.

  5. You weren't paying attention if you didn't see the improvements at the end of the season, or you measure improvement exclusively by W's and L's.

  6. Sorry, this is a bit too ambiguous for comment.

  7. Too secretive? Fans arguing is a valid part of analyzing a coach's ability. This seems a bit pretentious - along the lines of "I'm a fan. I deserve to know ..."

  8. See #6, though I would also suggest that player execution, or lack thereof, can make a good call look bad, or a bad call look good. The same can be said for a pass.

Those things aren't necessarily related to scholarships or culture, but scholarships or culture are still relevant.

Jeff Coffman 3 weeks, 4 days ago

I was not a fan of the previous administration and have moved on. I'm focused on HCLM, we are fortunate to have him. I've said I'm disappointed with the heavy JUCO situation, but I also realize that very few 3 star recruits are ready to start as freshman, so you have to lean on them. I'm hoping that there is more depth. My worry is that we only have 15 recruits available because of the blue-shirts were overused last year.

I'm not comparing the situation that Gill, Weis, or Beaty inherited. The only thing I know is that HCLM came in and said we need to play catch up...no excuses just get the job done. I still think that is a trait that we haven't had in a while.

All I know is that there are amazing JUCOs (Cam Newton probably one of the most famous ones) and some do not translate well into a large school environment (from a football perspective). My understanding is that on average fewer JUCOs are successful and you only get 2-3 years to mold them.

George Johnston 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Micky Baker, can you do me a favor and explain why you think my comment was ludicrous? Throwing out an insult without explaining does not help anyone understand your position.

For example, 1. Why did Montel Cozart, Ryan Willis, and Jake Sternberger sit on the bench at KU but play substantial minutes at other schools?

  1. Is it true that Beaty's in first three season, he didn't decide on a starting quarterback until a week or less before the opener? Also on decisiveness, can you answer Len Shaffer's question above?

  2. Is it true that Beaty made negative comments about Carter Stanley after the Oklahoma State game?

  3. Did Beaty ever say something like, "The fans don't see who does well in practice."?

  4. You responded to this one. You said, "The offense scored more points." Then why do both KU and the NCAA say that the 'Hawks scored an average of 27.7 points under Meacham and an average of 20.0 points under Beaty? Why do the official sources say that the 'Hawks scored over 20 in 5 of Meacham's 6 games and only twice in Beaty's six games?

  5. Did Beaty use the Air Raid offense his first three years? Was it successful?

  6. Did Beaty reveal the number of scholarships, who was on scholarship, or who would play?.

  7. Why do you think Beaty's play calling was good?

Dirk Medema 3 weeks, 4 days ago

George - A bunch were responded to above, but you do raise more questions.

  1. Are you really going to equate CMU and Rutgers at the beginning of the year with OU & UT at the end of the year? Sorry, but this is the sort of limited analysis that just seems flawed.

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