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Memphis loss puts backing of many KU football fans on life support

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A deflated Kansas sideline watches late in the fourth quarter on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016 at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tenn.

A deflated Kansas sideline watches late in the fourth quarter on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016 at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tenn. by Nick Krug

If you’ve followed Kansas football for any length of time — 2 years, 5 years, 10 years, even 50 years — you’ve seen, or perhaps even been a part of, a fan base that has suffered through all kinds of frustration, dashed hopes and disappointment.

Few stretches have been as rough as the past seven seasons, though. Kansas has won just 13 games during the dreadful run from 2010-2016 and, every year it seems as if the fan base has had to endure a handful of games — sometimes two or three, sometimes six or seven — that factor into the conversation about the lowest points in recent memory.

One such game popped up last weekend, when the Jayhawks were rocked, 43-7, by Memphis and played a big part in helping the Tigers kick tail.

I’ve covered all but two games during this stretch and, therefore, have seen and heard it all from the fan base that somehow keeps coming back with hope and optimism each season, though in dwindling droves each year.

That’s why it qualified as notable, at least to me, when I watched, saw and heard the reaction to this latest dud. Whether you’re talking about losses to K-State, whippings by Oklahoma and Baylor or no-shows against Texas Tech, West Virginia, Oklahoma State or a handful of non-conference foes, the anger and frustration coming from the fan base on Saturday was as bad as I can remember.

It’s not so much that the fans can’t handle losing. If anything, they’ve become experts on how to do that. And, for the most part, I don’t think any of them are expecting a reversal of fortunes immediately. What they are expecting, however, is progress. And, whether it’s there during the offseason and practice or not, it’s not showing up on Saturdays and that is creating quite a problem when it comes to support.

I’ve heard countless times from some of the most die-hard fans that losing is something they can handle as long as the losing comes with great effort, sound coaching and solid play. The Jayhawks are there in the effort department. Trust me. These guys — at least the great majority of them — are working and playing their butts off. But too often they’re beating themselves, imploding at the worst times and making life way, way, way too easy for their opponents.

With that in mind, I thought it would be interesting to gauge the mindset of the fan base on Twitter a few hours after KU’s latest loss. As I expected, I received responses that included a lot of anger and frustration and even saw more than a few fans who were already willing to write off the season.

Not the “Don’t worry guys, it’s almost basketball season,” crew. They never go away. I’m talking about true blue KU football fans who seem to be incredibly frustrated about everything from the plays that are called and decisions that are made to the outcome of games and the apparent lack of growth and development.

Here’s a sampling of the variety of the opinions I encountered over the weekend, moving from the I’m done crowd to the I’m still with them folks. I realize Twitter is not the end-all, be-all platform for true sports fans, but it is the easiest place to tap into a wide variety of people and opinions. Beyond these posts, I saw similar frustration surface on message boards, Facebook and even heard quite a bit in person.

As you’ll see, it’s feelings like these that put second-year head coach David Beaty and the entire program in very dangerous and unsettled waters.

None by TJE

None by Chad Gerber

None by Rock Chalk

None by StevieT

None by Ben W

None by Michael Worner

None by Ryan Gerstner

None by Aaron Allen

None by Randy Maxwell

None by Matt Franzenburg

None by Kyle Sybesma

None by Randall W. Bond

None by Scott Patterson

None by Brett Hothan

None by Ben W.

None by Jaimes

None by Fitz

None by Tom Arbogast

None by TJ McGreevy

None by OneBuc82

None by Dustin Odum

Comments

David Kemp 4 years ago

Picture says it all. Body language looks like guys ready to get on the bus, they're checked out. There will be nobody left to go to last game at this rate. This is as bad as the week Weis was fired. Not even sure how to comment on this anymore the frustration factor is so high. Throw the dogs a bone, give us something to grab on to.

Suzi Marshall 4 years ago

"And there shall arise after them seven years of famine; and all the plenty shall be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine shall consume the land;" (Genesis 41:30)

"And they that dwell in the cities of Israel shall go forth, and shall set on fire and burn the weapons, both the shields and the bucklers, the bows and the arrows, and the handstaves, and the spears, and they shall burn them with fire seven years:" (Ezekiel 39:9)

Kansas Football has gone through a Biblical tragedy! Perhaps we should consider a verse from the Bible to 'forgive a repentant sinner" and hire Art Briles to lead Kansas Football out of the wilderness.

Dillon Davis 4 years ago

They aren't even being competitive Matt. That's what is the most frustrating. We read articles and stories about how Jackson has got these guys in such great shape and this and that and they still look outclassed and out-coached. Beaty doesn't have answers in press conferences either, he takes the blame because he's a good ol boy but he doesn't provide answers or details about how they are going to fix things. Gill did the same thing and that's what scares me. Beaty was a good assistant here at KU and some people are just meant for that role. I have no doubt that players like playing for him and recruiting does seem to be getting better but it does no good if he can't prepare the team and make in-game adjustments. It's year two, start being competitive!!! I want him to do well. It'd make for a great story for you to write a few years down the road about how he and Bowen, two KU guys through and through, turned this thing around. But as of right now, it's not looking good. And this will set the program even further back which is a depressing thing to think about...we just want to go back to being mediocre and not the huge disgrace we are now.

John Fitzgerald 4 years ago

I feel like I'm in a dysfunctional relationship with KU Football. One day I love em, and the next day I hate em. Someone has to have the answer to fix this program though. If not, we may be looking from the outside in when the Big 12 decides to expand.

Ken Schmidt 4 years ago

John, that's a very appropriate response and I feel similarly. I am tired. Simply worn out. We generously support WEF. Not just a little bit (while money is a relative thing, even a little for some might mean as much as the most from the highest donors), but a lot given any standard and giving level. We buy 10 seats and 3 parking passes each year. We don't buy BB tickets because we are football people. I don't feel like I can criticize the system for fear of scaring away potential prospects or seeming that I don't support the university (akin to being afraid to report a marital problem?). All the same, I am done. All I have asked for since Gill took over was to show progress. Matt hit it on the head. I am not the head coach but even I can tell that there are some players (and coaches) who continue to start who just don't have the ability to be the leader at their position. I don't have the answers, which is what most of us feel, but I EXPECT the people who's job it is to have them, to make correct adjustments. I support Dr. Zinger and Coach Beaty, but my emotions are waning. I feel there should be accountability from the lowest to the highest levels in the University. Time to push up sleeves and get to work, not find band-aid fixes.

Football is not the reason the University exists, yet sports are highly important to a majority of college-aged adults. Without football, many of those sports would not be played at KU. This is an unfortunate catch-22 in some manners. So while this is the world we have created, the time has come to accept this reality and place the proper leadership and resources to the system or convert our sports teams to club activities and move forward as a non-sport school. That is an answer, I am sure, many of us would resist to the end.

Glen Miller 4 years ago

It is disheartening as a fan to see the struggles we are going through....... but I promise you that the players are having a much harder time dealing with it than we are. We have roughly 25 less scholarship players than other schools right now. We have a new coaching staff only into their 2nd year and the cupboards were awfully bare from Mr. Weiss and Mr. Turner. We have a less than pathetic home field advantage. Our program was literally on life support when Beaty took over.

There is good news though folks, I promise...... and this is not just some ridiculous homer sniffing some glue. Let's look at some of the positives. Beaty and staff are landing recruits that we haven't been even close to sniffing in the past. There is actually some semblance of excitement around the program, no matter how small. We aren't necessarily losing based on ability anymore, but by costly mistakes which actually can be fixed. We have much more speed, athleticism and strength on the field. High School kids are talking about coming here to be the ones to turn it around. Young guys are playing a ton of minutes, so it's a double edged sword but will help in the future.

I'm not naive, we are struggling and it is hard to watch there is no doubt about that at all. I do not believe that it is as bad as everyone thinks though and I also do not feel like we need to hit the re-set button yet again already. Beaty needs some time and I believe that he's at the very minimum got us headed in the right direction. The players need to stay sharp, execute and protect the football..... all things that can be done. I'm tired of losing and I'd like to be able to brag about my football team a bit more...... but I believe with all of my heart that within a few years we will be competing for bowls and upsetting some teams if we just keep sawin wood. I don't count what happened before Beaty, can't change that. I count what I'm seeing and the feeling I am getting with the program the last year and a half and I'm telling you that it is night and day difference in my circle..... and we are all staunch-diehard KU fans. Hang in there folks and RCJH!!!

Brett McCabe 4 years ago

The most important decision that any football coach ever makes is choosing his quarterback. If you are in charge of the Clemson program, or OU or FSU - teams that have loads of talent all over the field - then you can play games at the QB position, but not for long.

When you have a struggling team, then you need consistency and direction. Willis provided that and, in spite of setting the freshman passing record (thanks Doug Cramer), playing through a double groin-pull and actually showing flashes of Big 12-level ability, it seems that he did not do the rah-rah enough.

Beaty made a clear decision to go away from the obvious choice, in spite of all the evidence that screamed - "Don't Do It!!".

What bothers me more is that the tough, confident quarterback who was showing lots of up-side last year is now second-guessing himself, missing throws he never missed and seems unsure.

Man, I know I'm repeating myself but you've got to pick something and build on it. Get your ego out of the way, take stock of what you have and use that as your cornerstone. You can evolve your offense over time. Right now? Build it to match your personnel, especially your QB and O-Line.

The mass exit of coaches, the demotion of the O.C., the demotion of the obvious starter at Q.B., taking over punt returns and the last-minute decisions on the depth chart all smell of impatience and ego - not leadership.

It's broke. Beaty needs to fix it. Right now.

Andy Tweedy 4 years ago

I'm not smart enough to do his job, but I am a die hard fan and watch a lot of football. And the questions you raise have me troubled as well. I just don't get the things he's been doing with the QB and the OC job. When he's hired these guys, it's been nothing but high praise for how great they are, and then they're being stripped of their responsibilities, it doesn't make sense to me. And the Cozart thing...I mean, dear lord, how many chances does he get to prove he can play?

John Fitzgerald 4 years ago

Or prove he can't play. But I agree.

Chris Bailey 3 years, 12 months ago

I think we all know he can't play. I'm so tired of him and his countless opportunities to suck on the field! He's no more a D1 QB than I am! There are exactly ZERO FBS programs in the country he starts at not named KU. Does his family have some dirt on the Athletic Department or something because clearly he should not be playing.

Joe Ross 4 years ago

I know we havent always agreed, but here I echo your thoughts 100%. With Beaty, it seems like the things he should leave alone, he changes. And the things he should change he stays with far too long.

"Befuddling" is not even the word...

Joe Ross 3 years, 12 months ago

Thanks, Brett. Good to be back among Jayhawk friends.

Chris Bailey 3 years, 12 months ago

He's making some insane decisions that make no sense. Cozart starting? AGAIN?? WTH??? I can't get over that. I just can't get past how many chances he's had. You're spot on talking about Willis and his confidence. I hope that Beaty hasn't ruined him. I think Beaty is in way over his head. I don't think he is gonna be the guy we thought he'd be. I didn't like the last 3 hires. We have the money go hire a damn proven winner! Someone that will build something and stick around a while. I'm not asking for Stoops or Snyder just someone decent. They're out there. They've been out there and we keep hiring no names! I just don't get it. We are in so deep right now the climb out may be impossible.

Dave Painter 4 years ago

Someone mentioned finding the blueprint that turned it around once.

The Mangino Era Turnaround began with 2 phases of the game becoming respectable.

Bill Young's defense and the Special Teams kick started it all.

KU isn't going to improve every phase of the game all at once. They are going to haft to pack their best talent in one area and grow from there. We also saw what one tough, gritty, quarterback that threw the ugliest ball in all of college football could do single-handed while the team grew during that stretch.

Montel Cozart isn't a Bill Whittemore. Cozart was advertised as being a dual threat. Someone should tell him that.

Clint Bowen isn't Bill Young. That keystone cop effort the defense threw out against Ohio was my last straw.

It's not to late for Beaty to get it going. He just needs to put an emphasis on one area and go from there. Hire that Grouchy, Cagey, Defensive whiz. Give him the talent and get out of his way.

Your still going to lose. But you'll have a punchers chance if your only giving up 14-17 points a game. Once you get the Defense stabilized....then Beaty can do what he was hired to do.

Get the Offense going.

Mike Gant 4 years ago

The only difference between a mentally handicapped person and a KU Football Fan is that no one chooses to be mentally handicapped. You all are miserable by choice.

Marc Frey 4 years ago

If we throw out last year, which we should, then really we are 3 games into a 3 year project. Right now, I believe talent, age, and depth hurts us. Coaching....that too. But we still lack a Power 5 QB, a Power 5 front line at every position. If Beaty can still recruit, then he must find coaches that can make Power 5 players out of them.

Jim McLean 4 years ago

I want to keep hanging in with Beaty and the team, but it's getting harder by the week. I really feel bad for the kids who seem to be working so hard. But the combination of marginal talent, lack of depth and poor coaching is quite literally a prescription for disaster. As Bill Snyder has demonstrated at K-State, great coaching and program management are difference makers.

Bruce Bertsch 4 years ago

Its one thing to be "out athlete", its another to simply lack discipline. A team with two QBs has no QB. Pick one, preferably Willis, and give him the keys. Use some of the Snyder methodology, if you make a mistake on a play in practice you run it over and over until you don't. I have to agree that you have to pick two areas to concentrate on. Scrap the "Air Raid" you aren't running it anyway (see Washington State and Mike Leach as examples of what it looks like). Mangino's best teams had success because even in the spread they could run the football. Back to basics is where we need to start.

Brent Held 4 years ago

We need to completely remove Cozart from the QB position. Unless we run a wildcat formation and need his legs, this has to stop. Give Willis the green light and let him build up his confidence again. I still don't think he can't be a average Big 12 QB by his senior year. He won't be anything special but he won't be where we are now. Sure we could see Carter Stanley a little bit but I don't know that he would ever get us anywhere and is better suited as a back up for when our starter goes down.

Russell Jones 4 years ago

I don't think anyone is surprised that this team is 1-2 headed for 1-11 or 2-10. What bothered me after the game was the tone deaf comments from Beaty about "having three good QB's" and "we have a good little team". Both statements were an insult to the intelligence of KU fans and made him look stupid. I am not expecting him to trash his players but he also needs to be candid in the face of what we all watched on Saturday.

Cliff Leiker 4 years ago

An offense can't move the ball if the quarterback isn't competent. For some reason, although he has all the gifts in world, Montell panics when he plays quarterback. Willis took his good fortune last year for granted and as a consequence didn't progress (if football is important to you, don't play basketball in the off season). I say give Carter his chance. He looked good while in there. Give him the job and see what this team can do. Montell just isn't a winner. I don't care how nice he is. You have got to have some pride and a killer instinct, while being a nice guy to the right people and a bad mf to the rest.

Cliff Leiker 4 years ago

As for Coach Beaty, I like the guy, and he is good for Kansas Football. He got the HC job over Clint, because he is an extrovert, not an introvert like Clint. If memory serves me correct, Clint did a nice job coaching the team. If Beaty won't let the quarterback that has earned it in the games play, then it's time to circle back to Clint because Clint let the right guy play quarterback, not the one with the most talent, but the one who was a winner. Under Mangino, remember Todd wasn't the most gifted quarterback, but he had a winner's mentality and he competed every play.

Joe Ross 4 years ago

I know this: If Cozart starts next week, it should cost Beaty his job.

(It's rare that an aside is a longer speil than the main point, but here goes. I really feel badly for Montell Cozart and the public beating he must be taking. But it is Beaty's decisions which put Cozart in this predicament. Like Mangino did with Kerry Meier, Beaty should have said, "Hey Montell, let's try you at this position to see if we can utilize your gifts more to help the team." Montell would have been praised at a minimum for his unselfishness, and stood to garner even more accolades at another position for what he did on the field. This is Beaty's doings. Instead of building Cozart up, his actions have ripped him apart. Feel sorry for the guy.)

John Fitzgerald 3 years, 12 months ago

Nailed it. I remember last year thinking Beaty should just go ahead and move him to receiver and get him some experience. Heck, he's fast, athletic, and bigger than most of our receivers. I do love Beaty, but if he does start Cozart, it's career suicide. No reason Cozart should start at or even play QB again this year. I'd immediately start working him with receivers.

Brian Leiker 4 years ago

Nobody was more happy than you Tait when they hired Beaty. I imagine you'll go down to the bitter end with this hire.

Dirk Medema 4 years ago

There is plenty since last season that's been questionable. That's the hard part, because I can't imagine doing much that is positive with our roster deficit from the previous regime changes in just 15 games. Changing again in less than another year or 2 isn't going to somehow magically give us a competent program.

Marcus Balzer 4 years ago

That picture, more specifically #38 with a big ol' yawn sums it up pretty nicely for the team and our fan base right now.

I can stand losing if game by game we are getting better. It doesn't even have to be in pts. It can be in less penalties or turnovers. It can be in more conversions on 3rd down or younger guys playing better. After watching each game we are getting worse and worse. I will stand by Beaty for at least this season but if we don't see improvement from a game by game basis things could get real interesting quickly.

There are a lot of things you can't control in football but you can control mental and assignment errors and when I see we have those that means this coaching staff isnt getting through to the team. We can't control that we are down scholarships but you can control mental and assignment errors.

Jim Stauffer 3 years, 12 months ago

I am as frustrated as anyone. I believe Beaty is a hard worker, a terrific recruiter and an excellent position coach. Now we have hired him as HC. Whether we like it or not, we cannot change direction after year two. Too many 2/3 year coaches already.

We have to bite the bullet. He is a smart man. He will learn.

The one thing Zenger needs to do starting with next season. Insist on the hire of an Assistant HC who has years of experience in developing players and teams and allow him to lead Beaty to becoming a solid HC.

Bryan Mohr 3 years, 12 months ago

To all you Mangino haters out there, "Enjoy your Mangino-less KU football team on Saturday... take pleasure in your nice, physically fit coach that makes your soft-hearted sensibilities bubble." Mangino will put a football team on the field that is far better than Gill, Weis, or Beaty. Let's get this football program back to a Mangino level again. Face it you Mangino haters. Mangino isn't necessarily wanted back at KU... he is NEEDED. You can all bitch and moan about Mangino's inability to turn KU into OU, and I will enjoy watching a 6-6 KU team that is competitive every Saturday. One of the reasons I'm still so furious about the Mangino firing is the abundance of KU "fans" that quickly jumped in with kicks and jabs when Mangino went 5-7 (largely due to Todd Reesing and Kerry Meier playing injured) ONE YEAR after winning the Orange Bowl. Seriously!? I think so many KU football fans are clueless. They just whisk-fully brushed the Orange Bowl trophy under the table because of a 5-7 year. Take a close look at that 5-7 season. You'll see a lot of close losses to quality teams. The season could easily have gone 8-4 with a healthy Todd Reesing. Colorado, K-State, Missouri, and even the Nebraska game could have gone the other way. Take a look at the home attendance that year. KU and all the Mangino haters need to swallow their pride and welcome the man back... not because you like him, or ever will, but because a dead football program needs life again.

Jay Scott 3 years, 12 months ago

Hopefully the "Curse of the Mangino" is broken quicker than the Curse of the Bambino.

Does Theo Epstein do college football?. Maybe he's the next AD?

Bryan Mohr 3 years, 12 months ago

I realize a Mangino reunion with KU football isn't going to happen, but I spoke my mind anyway.

David Kemp 3 years, 12 months ago

I for one hear you and agree we need, discipline and toughness and no more butt pats for bad play!

Armen Kurdian 3 years, 12 months ago

I think we need to also realize that the program has got serious problems besides just the HC. I don't mean Beaty directly either. I think he's got the right attitude and can be a good coach.

When you are this far down the hole, it's got to be one drive at a time, one play at a time. Facilities, new paint, new uniforms, none of that matters until you take a holistic view and quantify the breakdowns we have on the field and focus your attention on fixing just a few at a time. If we can stop dropping the ball, that alone will be a turning point.

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