New Oklahoma head football coach Lincoln Riley received advice from, among others, David Beaty on how to make the transition from assistant coach to top dog.
“The phrase I shared with him was these next few days will be like drinking from a fire hose,” Beaty said. “If you’re not careful, you’ll drown. So you do have to go be a normal person. I know you’ve got a lot to do right now, but believe it or not, you’ll be better with less if you’ll go and grant yourself that vacation because the time just won’t be there.”
It’s not the only area where Beaty learned during his first two seasons that less can mean more. He’s also applying that philosophy to his involvement with the offense.
In his first season as head coach, Beaty was very involved in trying to get offensive coordinator Rob Likens to implement his version of the Air Raid offense. It never happened, so Beaty demoted Likens and took over OC and quarterback coaching duties and then also took on coaching the punt return team early in his second season on the job.
Now that veteran OC Doug Meacham is on board, Beaty said his days as a helicopter hovering over the offense have ended.
“One of the positives about bringing Meach here it allows me to do more of the head-coaching stuff rather than having to do both,” Beaty said. “Now, it’s being done throughout the country and it’s being done at a high level. Ideally, though, if you have a guy who knows what you want to do and he knows it as well as he knows it, then that’s ideal. And he just happens to be one of the best in the world at what he does. So it’s a big-time bonus for us.”
Beaty has done a terrific job at promoting the program, developing relationships with key boosters and in general spreading good will, all important facets of a head coach’s job as face of a major rebuilding project.
“My schedule will change a little bit in that I’m not going to hover over him,” Beaty said. “I don’t have to. I mean, Doug Meacham has done it. I’m not going to sit here and proclaim that I know more and am better than Doug. Offensively, his record and the things that he’s done speak for themselves. Why wouldn’t I trust that man?”
Beaty’s not the only Big 12 head coach surrendering play-calling duties this season. Seventh-year West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen won’t be calling plays for the first time. Offensive coordinator Jake Spavital, back on Holgorsen’s staff for the first time since 2012 when he was quarterbacks coach, takes over that responsibility.
Asked at Big 12 Media Days to share his recruiting pitch, Kansas head football coach David Beaty called an audible on the question and then answered it.
"Well, there's no pitch, there's a relationship," Beaty said. "There's no cliche there. We're going to get to know you. We're going to make sure that you're a Kansas-type guy. And then we're going to show you everything that's great about this great university. And we're going to start with what it means to be a Jayhawk. We say it all the time: When you sign here and you spend any amount of time here, that bird goes straight through your shirt and right to your heart. And it happens. It happens all the time."
It sounded like a recruiting pitch. Beaty explained why he does not consider it one.
"The thing for us," he said, "we don't pitch anything. We tell you the truth. Whether it's good, bad or indifferent, you're going to get the truth. We don't promise things. There's no, 'You're going to start.' We don't ever say that. You're going to get what you earn. And there is going to be competition. You're only going to be as good as your next, but we're going to push you to be the best man you can possibly be and when you leave here, you're going to be a better man, father, husband, productive member of society. And the byproduct of all of that is going to be championships for you on the field and off. So basically we talk a lot about what it means to be a great Jayhawk. So that's where our relationship starts. And if you don't want that, it's no big deal. You just can't come here."
Frisco, Texas — Kansas sophomore safety Mike Lee not only made the biggest play of the 2016 season for Kansas, a game-clinching interception in overtime in the 24-21 victory against Texas, he also was chosen by the coaching staff as defensive player of the week against Oklahoma and Iowa State. Rivals included him on its freshman All-American team. And if a national award had been handed out for hardest hit on a teammate during a spring football game, he would have been runaway winner for tagging receiver Ryan Schadler.
All that becomes more impressive considering Lee graduated high school a year early to start his college career and was playing mostly on instinct, according to Kansas coach David Beaty, who shared at Big 12 Media Day just how raw Lee was last year.
“Mike Lee returning is a big deal. He’s already so much better a player. Not fair to play a freshman," Beaty said at Big 12 Media Day. "Sometimes it’s just not fair. This kid made so many plays for us last year, and for the first half of the season all he knew was he better find Tevin Shaw. It was basically, 'If you can find Tevin, just go where he is and then we’ll teach you a few more things and let you just go use your ability.' Well, now he actually knows the calls. I mean, if you can be that good only finding Tevin . . . that’s what we’re excited about, that some of those youthful players have experience.”
Junior Tyrone Miller, projected starter at the other safety, impressed coaches with a strong spring, as did reserve Bryce Torneden.
Beaty, who went 2-22 in his first two seasons, isn't running from higher expectations for his team. He used Lee as an example of how he thinks KU has improved.
“We have people who have experience and have done it on the Big 12 level and played against the best the Big 12 has to offer," Beaty said. "Now they have experience. We can’t use that as an excuse not to be successful.”
Gary Woodland heads across the pond Saturday and will arrive in England on Sunday, early enough to get adjusted to the time change and log a few days of work with instructor Butch Harmon.
After taking a break for the birth of his and wife Gabby’s son Jaxon, Woodland returned to competition last weekend and encountered mixed results at the Greenbrier Classic.
He did his best work on the back nine of the second round. Standing a few strokes on the wrong side of the projected cut line with seven holes left, Woodland caught fire, carding birdies on three of the next four holes, then making par the rest of the way in to survive the cut.
He finished 57th at 1-under par and has been trying to regain the form he showed early in the 2016-17 season, when he placed in the top six in 4 of 7 events from early Nov. to late February.
“I was feeling as good as I’ve ever felt on the golf course, just excited to play,” Woodland said during a recent interview at Twin Oaks in Eudora. “And that happens when you play well. When you see shots, and you see certain golf courses that usually aren’t set up great for you and you just get out there and feel like this golf course is made for you, that’s the feeling you want every week, trying to make every course your home course.”
He’ll try to make Royal Birkdale Golf Club in North West England his home course next week in the British Open, even though he never has played it.
“I hear it’s great,” Woodland said. “I hear from talking to Butch that it’s a great golf course for me. He’s obviously been there numerous times. I’m excited to get over there and get some work in.”
Woodland never has been one to be shy about working on his golf game. Golfers at Eagle Bend last month had to pinch themselves to make sure they weren’t dreaming when they saw the man who currently ranks 26th on the PGA money list hitting shot after shot out of the tallest fescue he could find in preparation for the U.S. Open at Erin Hills in Wisconsin.
Woodland talked about what he has been working on lately.
“We’ve really got the golf swing right, so we’re trying to focus on driver, focus on timing, trying to get rid of some of that lag that I’ve had for so long, trying to slow that down a little to drive the ball straighter, drive the golf ball in play so I can hit more drivers,” Woodland said.
Armed with one of the fastest swing speeds in the world, driving it straight is a tough task because the slightest glitch exaggerates his misses.
“Obviously, when I’m driving it in play I’m playing a game that a lot of guys aren’t playing,” he said. “You’ve seen it with Dustin Johnson the last two years. He focused on driver for a long time. Now he’s one of the best drivers we’ve seen."
Johnson is tied with Brandon Hagy and Luke List for first on tour with an average driving distance of 312.1 yards. Woodland ranks 18th with an average drive of 304.5 yards.
The straighter Woodland can hit his driver, the more wedges that puts in his hands for second shots. Woodland’s wedge game has come a long, long way.
“That’s been a huge emphasis,” he said. “We ended up buying a Trac Man so I could work on distances. The whole deal is distances, distance control. So I’ve hit more wedges this year than I ever have. I can tell when I don’t do it for a week (during his break as a new dad).”
His improvement in wedge play has been easy to spot.
“We’re amazed now in how good my misses have been,” Woodland said. “Obviously, every time I hit one well I can get it close, but my misses now are giving me a chance to still make putts and still make birdies.”
As a putter, Woodland has gone through hot streaks and cold ones. Based on the shooting touch on display on Youtube from his high school basketball days, Woodland has the touch to become a terrific putter — the skills are related, regardless of what anyone might tell you — it’s just a matter of finding the right key to getting that touch to bubble to the surface the way he did when he won the Transitions in 2011.
Woodland said he plans to pick the brain of Harmon and veterans in the field about the nuances of Royal Birkdale.
As Brooks Koepka showed in the U.S. Open, when a big hitter drives them straight and gets hot with the putter, look out! Watching Koepka destroy the field in the U.S. Open reminded me of watching Woodland when he’s on top of his game.
“Very similar,” Woodland agreed. “We both hit it a long way. When we putt well we seem to play well. We both like to play aggressive. When he gets in grooves like he is right now he’s obviously playing some good golf. You could see it coming. He played well a couple of weeks before that as well. It’s all confidence out here. We can all play. Once you get that confidence rolling, you’re pretty hard to beat.”
Once Las Vegas sets a line on “college football win totals” for those wishing to wage a guess as to how many games a particular college football team will win in a given season: Guess the over, guess the under, abstain.
In 2015, I advised guessing the under when Las Vegas set KU’s total at 1.5 and the Jayhawks went 0-12. In 2016, I advised abstaining when Vegas kept the total at 1.5. The come-from-behind, upset victory against Texas sent the “over” guessers home winners, giving me a 1-0-1 mark in two seasons of guessing.
Vegas has set the number at 2.5 for Kansas. Take the over, even against an extremely difficult schedule. The beauty of such a guess is that you don’t have to correctly pick which games, just the total.
The season-opener against Southeast Missouri State should not be in question. The Redhawks went 3-8 last season, their only victories coming against Murray State, Eastern Illinois and Austin Peay. Although SEMO remained competitive in every game, its biggest margin of defeat coming at the hands of Memphis, 35-17, in Week 1, KU should be beyond stumbling against a so-so FCS foe.
Week 2, provides the next-best chance at a victory. Central Michigan must replace Cooper Rush, a four-year starter at quarterback. Michigan transfer Shane Morris is a candidate for the job.
The Chippewas won’t lack confidence against Kansas in Lawrence, having defeated Oklahoma State, 30-27, in Stillwater last season and riding a two-year streak of making it to bowl games.
Even so, Kansas should be a slight favorite, maybe as much as a field goal, if impressive enough against SEMO.
Finding a third victory on the schedule is where it gets a little sticky. Then again, a year ago not many would have picked Kansas to score its first victory against Texas since 1938.
Week 3, a road game against Ohio, offers a decent shot at victory, but I’ll skip to Week 4 in guessing at the opponent for the third victory: Texas Tech.
Nic Shimonek threw for 271 yards and four touchdowns on a night Patrick Mahomes also threw for four touchdowns against the Kansas defense and Shimonek will have a whole game to see what he can do against the Jayhawks in Lawrence, a scary proposition.
Kansas didn’t have what it took to get into a shootout with the Red Raiders last season and punted on its first six possessions against a defense most of the rest of the Big 12 shredded.
KU has more playmakers and Tech's defense won't be any better, maybe even a little worse.
Doug Meacham comes to Kansas after spending the past four seasons with the title co-offensive coordinator. He spent 2013 at Houston and the next three seasons at TCU.
During that four-year stretch, the offenses with which he worked never finished worst than 29th in the nation in passing.
True, an offensive coordinator is only as good as his quarterback, receivers, offensive line and running backs and Meacham worked with some good ones.
At Houston, true freshman John O'Korn was his quarterback for most of the season. The Cougars finished 26th in the nation with 280.5 yards per game, threw 30 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions. The next season, when Meacham was at TCU, O'Korn was replaced as starter in midseason and transferred to Michigan. His performance wasn't as good once Meacham left.
In 2014, Trevone Boykin became one of the nation's most improved players and TCU finished seventh in the nation in passing offense (326.2 yards per game) and the Horned Frogs threw for 37 touchdowns with just 11 interceptions. More of the same in 2015 with Boykin at the controls (eighth in nation, 347.5 passing yards, 39 touchdowns, 15 interceptions).
Last season, the Horned Frogs slipped to 29th (268.2, 18 TDs, 14 picks) with Kenny Hill at quarterback.
Neither Peyton Bender nor Carter Stanley is Trevone Boykin, but the winner of the KU QB competition might be better than Hill.
The Meacham acquisition was a big one and it will start paying off immediately for a Kansas offense that has been embarrassingly bad for several seasons in a row.
Kansas volleyball has what could be remembered as the school’s most talented and accomplished senior class in school history this coming season, but that doesn’t mean the Jayhawks won’t miss last year’s senior class.
Libero Cassie Wait and middle blocker Tayler Soucie were All-Big 12 players and reserve Maggie Anderson was known as one of the team’s better servers.
“We lost three big-time culture kids who were unbelievable teammates,” KU coach Ray Bechard said. “Maggie didn’t play as much, but she was big-time in the gym and the locker room, as were Cassie and Tayler.”
Winning programs have a way of sustaining themselves in part through winning traits being passed down from older to younger players, traits such as those that made Anderson, Soucie and Wait — recently nominated by the Kansas athletic department for the NCAA Woman of the Year award — “unbelievable teammates.”
Anderson, Soucie and Wait experienced a pair of firsts in KU volleyball history, making it to the Final Four in Omaha in 2015 and winning the Big 12 title in 2016.
The 41-game road losing streak Kansas takes into the upcoming football season overshadows another streak of futility that hasn’t been all that uncommon for the Jayhawks through the decades.
KU has lost 37 consecutive Big 12 road games, the last victory coming by a 35-33 margin vs. Iowa State in 2008 when Mark Mangino was the coach.
That marked Mangino’s sixth road victory in a seven-game stretch of conference road games. Constantly turning over football coaches is no way to build a program that gains enough momentum to be able to compete on the road in the Big 12. David Beaty will be the first coach since Mangino to earn the time to see if he can build a winner.
Mangino’s predecessor, Terry Allen, didn’t win a Big 12 road game until his 14th try. Mangino’s first road victory in the Big 12 came in his 12th attempt and he finished his tenure with a 7-24 record in conference road games.
Turner Gill went winless in eight tries and Charlie Weis went 0-9, interim head coach Clint Bowen 0-5.
Beaty is 0-9 on the road in the Big 12 and has four shots to claim his first in 2017: at Iowa State (Oct. 14), at TCU (Oct. 21), at Texas (Nov. 11) and at Oklahoma State (Nov. 25).
The NCAA women’s volleyball Final Four is in Sprint Center, Dec. 14 and 16, so it’s a good year for Kansas to have a roster that has a legitimate shot to make a second run to the sport’s ultimate stage in three years.
A look at key dates on the Horejsi Center schedule:
Sept. 4: Kentucky visits for KU’s home opener. The Wildcats, coming off back-to-back strong recruiting classes, are young but extremley talented and are likely to appear in the preseason top 25.
Sept. 8: Purdue, the second of three opponents in the Kansas Invitational, gives Jayhawks a chance to avenge last season’s four-set loss in West Lafayette.
Sept. 9: Revenge weekend continues with Creighton, the school that bounced KU from the 2016 NCAA tournament in a thrilling match in Horejsi, in for a rematch. Might scalpers holding tickets in the air before this one?
Oct. 11: Texas very well could bring a No. 1 national ranking into this one and will want to pay back Kansas for winning the Big 12 title last season.
Nov. 8: Kansas State visits Horejsi and the rivalry match always brings out the best in the lively crowd.
Nov. 30-Dec. 2: KU likely will serve as host school for first-and-second-round matches in Horejsi.
Dec. 8-9: NCAA Championship Regionals. If Kansas has a strong enough season to merit being one of the host schools for the regionals, Allen Fieldhouse will be availble with basketball games taking place Dec. 6 and 10.
“We have the most competitive home nonconference schedule that we have ever had, paired with challenging lineup of matches away from home,” KU volleyball coach Ray Bechard said. “That jumps out at me initially - the opportunity we have to entertain some really good teams and to make a large footprint on the national stage.”
Kansas men’s golf coach Jamie Bermel, whose team has been in the NCAA tournament field the past two seasons, is confident that once the planned new practice facility for the men’s and women’s golf teams is complete, it will benefit performance and recruiting.
“I haven’t seen everybody’s, but we’re going to be close to the top, if not the top (among Big 12 schools),” Bermel said. “We’re probably ninth out of 10 right now. It’s going to be huge for recruiting.”
Bermel said it was designed with the idea that “every kid could have access to work on any part of their game any time of the year. We also want it to be good enough that if guys like (PGA touring pro) Gary Woodland want to practice at the facility, it will be good enough for him to practice there.”
The practice facility will be located at The Jayhawk Club, which is undergoing a massive reconstruction. When it was known as Alvamar, it had 36 holes on two courses, one private and one public. After the reconstruction, it will have only one 27-hole course, which will be private.
Plans for the practice facility include a building that’s 8,500 square feet and includes men’s and women’s locker rooms, coaches’ offices. The plan is for it to include seven hitting bays from which players can stand indoors and drive balls that land on the outdoor range, plus an indoor putting green of 1,600 square feet made of a sand-based, synthetic material, “so we can chip and putt and the ball reacts like it does on a green.”
The outdoor putting green will be 10,000 square feet, according to Bermel.
The facility will include a course simulator, launch monitors and the latest in golf-related video technology, Bermel said.
The plan calls for the driving range to have both bent grass and zoysia areas.
As for when it will all be ready, nobody can say for sure, but Bermel hopes that the new 18 holes — the front nine holes of Alvamar private will remain unchanged and won’t be part of the championship course — will be completed by May of 2018.
“I’m hoping the driving range is done this fall and the building is done before second semester,” Bermel said.
The new course will enable Kansas to serve as host for tournaments, although there aren’t any in the works until the fall of 2019, at the earliest.
Per the terms of a 20-year licensing agreement between the University of Kansas and an LLC headed by Lawrence developer Thomas Fritzel, the Jayhawk Club is granted use of KU’s registered marks and names for an annual fee of $120,000 for the first 10 years, a figure that will be inflation-adjusted for the final 10 years.