As evidenced by the two-year contract extension and raise he received this past December, the University of Kansas is pleased to have David Beaty as its head football coach.
Sure, the Jayhawks have yet to escape the Big 12’s cellar in Beaty’s first two seasons leading the program. But the progress being made — both in recruiting and in terms of the on-field product — under Beaty’s watch have been a welcome sign for athletics director Sheahon Zenger, who knows better than anyone how boosters view the culture change being spearheaded by Beaty and his staff.
That’s why those long-suffering followers of the program won’t be as surprised as outsiders at Beaty’s standing, as presented in Dennis Dodd’s College Football Hot Seat Rankings at CBSSports.com.
An uninformed observer might see the 2-22 record next to Beaty’s name and assume another losing season could put his job in peril. But what kind of athletic department would be able to announce a $300 million stadium and facilities renovation project with a lame duck or loathed head coach in place?
No, Beaty isn’t leaving Kansas anytime soon. Take a look at Dodd’s hot seat rating scale, with 0 defined as “untouchable” and 5 falling in the category of “win or be fired.” KU’s third-year coach sits firmly on a cold seat.
While Beaty didn’t crack the upper stratosphere of un-fireable coaches, populated by the Nick Sabans and Dabo Swinneys of the college football world, KU’s coach came close, earning a 1 on the hot-seat scale — or “safe and secure” — at the same level as 65 other FBS coaches.
Within the Big 12, Beaty’s job is as certain as those of first-year coaches Tom Herman (Texas) and Matt Rhule (Baylor), Iowa State’s Matt Campbell and Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy. He’ll have to accrue many more victories at KU before reaching the “untouchable” level of Kansas State’s Bill Snyder and TCU’s Gary Patterson. But because Beaty is in the early stages of a serious rebuilding project at a low profile program, his job is safer than those of new Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley and Dana Holgorsen at West Virginia, both of whom landed in the realm of “all good … for now” with a 2 rating. Meanwhile, Beaty’s old buddy Kliff Kingsbury finds himself in the unenviable spot of “start improving now,” with a hot-seat rating of 4.
Ultimately, no coach is completely un-fireable — even recent national champions Swinney and Saban. But assuming everyone is abiding by the laws of the land and the NCAA, most of the nation’s coaches have to feel secure in their jobs entering this season.
A three- or four-win campaign at KU this fall actually qualifies as further progress, so Beaty is in a pretty good spot for at least another year. Expectations likely will rise for KU in 2018. Still, Beaty and his staff appear equipped to keep steering the program toward better days as long as their supporters have realistic expectations for the steady restoration of the program.