Saturday, November 10, 2018

Matt Tait: Jayhawks fall short of feel-good ending

Kansas State quarterback Alex Delton (5) gives a hug to Kansas head coach David Beaty following the Jayhawks' 21-17 loss to the Wildcats on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan, Kan.

Kansas State quarterback Alex Delton (5) gives a hug to Kansas head coach David Beaty following the Jayhawks' 21-17 loss to the Wildcats on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan, Kan.


Manhattan — The dream ending was there for the taking.

And Kansas couldn’t grab it.

OK. So maybe calling it a dream is a little dramatic. But given the nightmare that has been Kansas football for the last decade, winning in Manhattan on Saturday certainly would have qualified as a dream come true.

But the Jayhawks could not get it done.

Saturday’s 21-17 heartbreaker at Bill Snyder Family Stadium was not one of those could-not-get-it-done to the tune of 55-10 efforts either. This was a could-not-get-it-done-but-probably-should-have kind of day for Kansas (3-7 overall, 1-6 Big 12), and that’s what made it sting so much in the visiting locker room.

“I felt like we were prepared to win this one,” said senior linebacker Joe Dineen. “We really felt like we were going to come in here and compete well and come away with a victory. So, yeah. This one hurts.”

There are so many layers to the concept of a dream ending at Kansas these days that it’s important to separate them out, even if the whole idea is irrelevant because of Saturday’s final score.

Yes, the Jayhawks had the ball, with a chance to win, at the very end the game. But the KU offense’s last-ditch attempt to come out on top in a back-and-forth battle ended with senior quarterback Peyton Bender’s empty hand coming forward with the ball on the ground behind him in the final 30 seconds.

Too bad, too. Bender played an otherwise solid game and appeared poised to play the role of hero as the clock ticked down.

The fumble that sealed KU’s fate wasn’t completely shades of Montell Cozart’s failed attempt to kill the clock in a home loss to South Dakota State back in 2015, Beaty’s first season.

But no one will call you crazy if your mind went there after this gaffe.

And then there’s the fast-approaching end for the seniors. Winning in Manhattan and snapping a nine-game losing streak to your in-state rival — heck, perhaps even being the final straw that pushes Snyder out and opens up a greater opportunity to compete in a series in which KU now has lost 23 of the last 27 times — certainly would have been the stuff of dreams for KU’s most experienced and longest suffering players.

Senior wideout Jeremiah Booker, who grabbed a nine-yard touchdown midway through the third quarter, talked a lot after the loss about finishing what he started and how that mentality would benefit him and his teammates later in life.

Senior receiver Steven Sims Jr., whose 65-yard sprint to pay dirt actually gave Kansas a fourth-quarter lead, lamented a lost opportunity.

“Definitely,” said Sims, when asked if a win Saturday could’ve created a dream ending. “It could’ve been a spark, but it didn’t turn out that way. A lot of us guys, we wanted that Governor’s Cup bad. We’ve never had it. We played our heart out today, but we came up short.”

To some degree, every college football game ever played has its moments of imperfection. A missed assignment here. A slip there. A turnover or bad coaching decision elsewhere. And there were plenty of those on Saturday.

Muffed punts. Players hiding penalty flags. Complete chaos at times, comfortable confusion at others. Fumbled snaps. Dropped touchdowns. Unintentional onside kicks. It was all there. And for once it was not just on the Kansas side.

But mistakes happen when guys are playing hard. And there’s no denying that both sides did plenty of that in this one, even if it wasn’t always pretty and, at times, brought back memories of the classic futility battles of the 1980s between these two programs.

Those days eventually ended and once-far-fetched dreams of bowl victories and competing at the highest level came true from both programs, even if only temporarily for Kansas.

It’s hard to project which side is closer to regaining that glory today and Saturday’s game made that crystal clear.

Kansas State won the game. But Kansas probably should have. Depending on how you look at it, KU left anywhere between 6-14 points on the board after catching a couple of favorable breaks but failing to capitalize. That stings in a game decided by four.

The bottom line is this: Beginning, middle or end, Beaty’s time at Kansas, which is now down to its final two games and officially will be finished 13 days from today, was filled with mistakes and frustration, disappointment and despair.

A victory by Kansas on Saturday would have been a nice going-away present and the players, no doubt, would have loved to give that to Beaty as a thank-you for the time he invested in them.

“(There) was a lot of motivation for us to come out here and play hard for him,” Dineen said of Beaty. “We wanted to come out here and send him off with that one.”

But true to form, they could not get it done.

The only difference between a loss like this and the more typical losses to K-State that have come throughout the past 10 years is that the players were left with a lot more what-if moments after this one.

The gap has closed. Kansas has shown it can compete with Kansas State again. But whether that reflects well on the Jayhawks or poorly on the Wildcats is still up for debate.


Brett McCabe 2 years, 3 months ago

This is the worst KSU team in 20 years. And we couldn’t beat them. Question answered.

2 years, 3 months ago

Beaty’s time at Kansas, which is now down to its final two games and officially will be finished 12 days from today, was filled with mistakes and frustration, disappointment and despair. no kidding. 🔥 his @$$ again! FOR THE SENIORS.

Kevin Robert Fest 2 years, 3 months ago

If the last play of this game was the last play of Beaty's time coaching Kansas, his 4 years would have been summed up in that one final play. But alas two more games and l sure some more plays like that are comin. This is so sad. You'd figure Beaty would just let everything go, 3 last games, go for broke, but no he still coaches like it's his first year.

Michael Maris 2 years, 3 months ago

The continual vitriol (on the David Beaty era) is getting old people. His days are winding down. Hopefully, in the coming days, you will find some serenity in your respective lives.

Brett McCabe 2 years, 3 months ago

It’s not a column about my life. Hopefully, in the coming days, you’ll understand what a Sports page is. And maybe a Sunday lesson in self-righteousness would be good, too.

Dirk Medema 2 years, 3 months ago

A sports page isn't supposed to be a bitchfest. It is long past being old. There were plenty of questionable calls but also would have been a W if any number of players had made plays they had been taught to make. To sit behind your keyboard to just dump on Coach Beaty is ignorant. Go back to Iowa like you promised.

Brett McCabe 2 years, 3 months ago

Bryce is the Iowa guy. But hey, you were only off by all but two letters.

Dane Pratt 2 years, 3 months ago

Speaking of Bryce, why is he not here preaching his indifference to KU football?

Brett McCabe 2 years, 3 months ago

I don't know, Bryce notoriously use to post that Self should be fired. I love Bryce's passion but I don't share his opinions. I'm also not aware of his daily activities since I have absolutely no clue who he is.

Steven Haag 2 years, 3 months ago

Amen Michael and Dirk. Unfortunately it won’t stop after Beaty leaves. I’ve already seen negativity and whining on some articles about our AD Long. There will be more once he hires a new head coach. Then, after the new coach is hired, they will start in on him after he loses a game he shouldn’t have lost. So on and on it will go. I use their continual whining as a teaching point for my children. It serves as a great tool on how not to act in this crazy thing called life. In some ways, it is better than anything they can learn in school

Brett McCabe 2 years, 3 months ago

It's interesting that you bring this up. Mellinger at the Star and several local radio hosts have already commented on Long coming off as abrasive and not understanding what the fan base has tolerated, and supported for the past decade. Long was fired at his last job for hiring the wrong football coach. Regardless, I think he can get it right, and I'm happy to give him some space but he, like you, tends to what to preach and condescend. Never a good thing when you have an empty stadium and the worst football program in America.

Your problem with whining is a misplaced. This is one of the two or three worst football programs in America and has been for a decade. Some people actually think it can be better but what we encounter are excuse-makers. It's not whining when you are calling out incompetency at an epic level - it's raising expectations and doing what you can to make your voice heard.

The stadium was empty vs. ISU because David Beaty and others emptied it. How about the whining from AD about the lack of fan support? Or the whining from Beaty about the scholarship situation?

If you want to teach your kids something, teach them about excellence, holding people accountable and refusing to accept excuses.

Jack Hoff 2 years, 3 months ago

When has David Beaty ever whined about the scholarship situation? That man has done everything in his power to avoid making excuses for the crap hole that KU football was in. He hasn't won a lot of games but I'd love to know where he has every complained about the situation. If you can't see that KU has made significant strides from where they were 4 years ago then you are either ignorant or just stupid. Whoever the next coach is can come in and win 4-5 games next year on talent alone, you can't say that was even remotely possible when Beaty got here. Rockchalk

Brett McCabe 2 years, 3 months ago

A few weeks ago. Try reading KU Sports.

Robert Brock 2 years, 3 months ago

Beaty was defeated by a real coach. The Hawks will soon get a real coach too. ‘Bout time!

Chris DeWeese 2 years, 3 months ago

I think this game was a microcosm of the entire David Beaty era. Poor coaching and bone-headed mistakes by the players. Missed opportunities, poor self-control, inability to think, dearth of talent...I could go on and on. Yes, I might be spewing vitriol, and yes, it might be getting old. This is where people can come to vent. It's important to hold these people (the coaches) accountable because they've been given great opportunities and paid handsomely. It's now been a decade since the last time KU has beaten Kstate. A decade! Ten long f@cking years! It's inexcusable! It's incomprehensible! Jeff Long isn't dumb. He is saying what he needs to say. He knows why there's no support from the fan base. I assume he understands the gravity of his upcoming football coach hire. It might sound overly dramatic, but it could affect the future of the university. If we continue to lose, we might get left out when conference realignment comes (and it will). If we miss out on a spot in a P5 conference, what will that do to KU's revenue. What effect will that have on academic programs? Enrollment? I know I sound like a chicken little, but the administration can't look the other way any longer. Jeff Long has to make a home run hire. No excuses.

Steven Haag 2 years, 3 months ago

Brett, your last comment is yet another great teaching point for my kids....thanks. Being unhappy....shoot even angry at Beaty and his staff is warranted. I supported him longer than most, but even I said that he needs to go after game 1 this year. Whining comes in after you complain over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. Give it a freaking rest. We ALL GET IT. At some point it goes beyond “making a point” and becomes whining. As far as Long, we can just agree to disagree on that one. My 27 years of military taught me a few things. The “press” wants to inform the people (taxpayers that pay our salary) of when a where we will attack. We tell them, politely, none of your damn business. We don’t give away our position or plan. To a lesser extent Long is the same. His allegiance is to the university.......not the fans that want to be armchair AD’s. I realize that it’s a fine line so you don’t make your donors and fan base mad as they support the university with $$$$$, but there is a certain amount of “back off, leave him alone, give him a chance to do his job” that is warranted.

Steven Haag 2 years, 3 months ago

Brett, furthermore you say that these talk shows.....and I quote “...have already commented on Long coming off as abrasive and not understanding what the fan base has tolerated, and supported for the last decade”. Really? Nothing but negative posts and not showing up to call that tolerant and being supportive? That’s quite the opposite. If you think that is tolerant and supportive, I would hate to see you all when you are critical and unsupportive

Brett McCabe 2 years, 3 months ago

Into last year, KU's posted attendance at most home games was still in the 30,000+ range. That's nine years into the worst drought in football competence since KSU pre-Snyder. Why do you insist on blaming the people that have been there?

I had season tickets through last year and I used to be amazed at how big the crowds were. In a way, this hurt us because people continued supporting the team and KU in spite of the KUAD's historic incompetence. But, at some point, even loyal fans wear out.

Chris Condren 2 years, 3 months ago

Matt I hope you can appreciate after living through almost nine full years of the Decade of Despair with Kansas Football that a lovable loser type article does not really interest me. What would get me going is a piece that details the truly history incompetence of the KUAD and the coaches it has hired leading to the total ruin of Kansas Football. From the worst nine year record to the total collapse in home attendance the damage to becoming the butt of sports writers cutsie articles about Kansas football everything about the program, other than the players, is completely rotten and destroyed. A curse upon all who have sown this curse in Lawrence.

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