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Posts tagged with Coaching Staff

Toughness, teamwork common themes on David Beaty’s coaching staff

Today marked the third time since 2010 that I've found myself in the position of having to walk into a room full of football coaches whom I did not know and explain to them that I planned to spend the next however many years covering and caring about just about everything they think, say and do when it comes to Kansas football.

Because I've done this so often, I kind of have it down. First impressions are important, so you want to be professional and respectful. But you also want to be confident. Above everything else, though, you want to make sure you don't assume familiarity. Few things outrage me as much as that and I try very hard to make sure I'm never the one doing the assuming.

So there I was, with my hand extended, my business card ready to pass out, and my questions ready for the new members of David Beaty's KU football staff ready to go.

There were eight of them who met with the local media for the first time on Wednesday and although I didn't quite make my way around the room to say to all of them, I saw enough of them to know that what I thought was an impressive staff on paper is even more impressive in person.

It's not their resumes or track records or accomplishments that make Beaty's boys impressive. It's the type of people they are. Like their head coach, they're energetic, engaging, friendly dudes who are here to coach football and have a little fun doing it. When I say fun, I'm not talking about the kind of get-togethers you see at the country club. These guys are serious about the business and even more serious about the challenge they've agreed to take on by joining the football program at KU. But they're not so stuffy that they're going to be relentless jerks in their pursuit of that, nor are they so naïve to think that it's going to be easy.

Each one of these guys — Rob Likens (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks), Zach Yenser (offensive line), Calvin Thibodeaux (defensive line), Klint Kubiak (wide receivers), Gary Hyman (special teams/tight ends), Kevin Kane (linebackers), Je'Ney Jackson (director of strength and conditioning) and Gene Wier (director of high school relations) — seems well aware of the monumental rebuilding task that's ahead, and rather than being intimidated or turned off by that, these guys seem to be gearing up for a fight.

The two common themes that bounced around throughout the room were toughness and teamwork. Nearly every coach I spoke with mentioned something about playing tough and coaching tough kids. The most notable such soundbite came from Kubiak, the 27-year-old wide receivers coach who told me that he wanted KU's wide receivers to be the toughest unit on the team and added, “And if they're not, they won't play.”

Then there was offensive line coach Zach Yenser, whose position group is tougher than most by nature, who said he was not at all intimidated about jumping into the wild and wide-open Big 12 Conference after dealing with all kinds of styles of offenses in the Pac-12. Again, though, Yenser was not cocky when talking about why he thought what he, Beaty, offensive coordinator Rob Likens and the rest of the offensive staff would bring to the KU offense, more confident in his belief that, with hard work and, of course, toughness, it would work.

Speaking of Likens, he listed the three things that he wants to see from the offensive players he puts on the field and toughness was included in the trio of traits: We want them to be fast, we want them to be tough and we want them to have great character, he said. And he added that the staff was not really willing to compromise or sacrifice in any of those areas.

All the words and talk in the world won't mean a thing for the results on the field. And, by now, it's quite clear that KU fans are not interested in hearing about how things will be better or different or new. They just want to see better football.

I get the sense that this staff, like Beaty and like Clint Bowen before him, gets that and is made up of a bunch of regular guys who are much more interested in working and finding ways to fix problems and create advantages than talking about how they'll do it or what needs to happen.

Time will tell if my read on these guys is right or wrong or if it'll make a difference. But given what I learned today about the personalities and make-up of the coaches in charge of bringing change to KU football, it seems like the program is starting over in a pretty good spot — for the long haul — and is backed a bunch of coaches who understand the challenges, are willing to embrace them and should be pretty easy to like.

Reply 14 comments from Matt Tait Jaylark Lcjayhawk Stupidmichael Maxhawk Bville Hawk James Baker Jim Stauffer Rockchalk1990 Kingfisher and 2 others

More on KU football strength coach Je’Ney Jackson and where KU’s coaching staff stands

By now, having read about, followed, experienced or agonized over three coaching searches since 2009, fans of Kansas University football certainly are no strangers to the hierarchy of what's important before, during and after a coaching change is made.

The before and during are behind us. KU named former Texas A&M assistant coach David Beaty the 38th head coach in school history on Dec. 5, and, since then, Beaty has been running every which way trying to get things lined up for signing day in February and the start of spring football a month later.

Although the identity of a few of his staff members remains a mystery, sources have indicated that Beaty has nailed down most of the positions during the past couple of weeks.

Here's a quick recap of what we know:

• Clint Bowen – Holdover from former staff will be the defensive coordinator and assistant head coach.

• Reggie Mitchell – Another holdover from Weis' staff, it would make sense if Mitchell continued in his role as running backs coach and recruiting coordinator.

• Louie Matsakis – Another holdover from previous staff who finished 2014 by coaching KU's special teams will have a yet-to-be-determined role on new staff. Likely an administrative type of job.

• Kevin Kane – Former KU player who has worked at Wisconsin and Northern Illinois will coach linebackers.

• Gene Wier – Former Olathe North and Texas high school football coach will come on board in an off-the-field staff position.

• Klint Kubiak – 27-year-old son of NFL coach Gary Kubiak is the likely WRs coach.

• Calvin Thibodeaux – Former Oklahoma defensive end and Tulsa D-Line coach likely to coach KU's D-Line, as well.

• Je'Ney Jackson – Former KU assistant and Indiana basketball strength coach, will run KU football's strength and conditioning department.

• Justin Springer - Former KU linebacker, and another holdover from the previous strength staff, will stay on as a member of Jackson's crew.

As far as we know, KU essentially is still looking for four more names of full-time assistants and the following duties:

• Offensive coordinator
• Quarterbacks coach, which could very well be the OC
• Offensive line coach
• Tight ends coach
• Defensive backs coach, which could be Bowen
• Possibly a second defensive backs coach, if they split duties to safeties & corners
• Special teams coach, which could be lumped with another role, i.e. TEs/ST coach

Of the bunch that's already on board, Jackson may be the most important name we've heard thus far. Because Bowen and Mitchell were announced to be staying as soon as the Beaty hire was official, those guys are not included. Both are big additions to Beaty's staff, but neither figures to have the immediate impact that Jackson will.

I talked to former KU cornerback Chris Harris about Jackson the other day. Jackson was KU's defensive backs coach when Harris played at KU and the current Denver Bronco absolutely loves him.

Harris told me that Jackson is going to have KU's players ready for battle and added that they probably won't like him much at first because he can be a hard ass. That's a good thing, if you're a fan of the program anyway.

One other interesting thing Harris stressed about Jackson was how good of a teacher of technique he was. In Harris' experience, that obviously had to do with playing DB, but, generally speaking, most coaches who are known for the way they teach technique are pretty buttoned-up dudes and detail oriented. I'd expect that to be exactly what KU's getting from Jackson.

For those who might want to see and hear a little more about what Jackson's all about, here are a couple of YouTube videos I found from his time at Indiana. Yeah, training basketball players and football players is a little different, but Jackson inherits an incredible training facility in Lawrence and you can bet he'll bring several of the same training principles to town with him when he takes over.

Reply 5 comments from Don Johnson Dirk Medema Texashawk10_2 Robert Brown

Sources: Gene Wier expected to join KU football program

Information on the identity of new Kansas football coach David Beaty's coaching staff continues to be tough to come by, but sources told the Journal-World on Monday that legendary Olathe North football coach Gene Wier is expected to join Beaty's staff in the off-the-field coaching role.

That role, though not specified by the sources, likely will be something in the area of on-campus recruiting coordinator.

Such a role would seem to fit Wier perfectly. His knowledge of and connections in the high school football world in Kansas are second-to-none and the man who guided O-North to six state championships in the late 1990s and early 2000s also was a head coach for nine years in Texas before returning to the Sunflower State.

Wier's addition would bring the number of known people in Beaty's coaching staff to five — defensive coordinator/assistant head coach Clint Bowen, running backs coach/recruiting coordinator Reggie Mitchell, linebackers coach Kevin Kane, former special teams coach Louie Matsakis and Wier.

Stay tuned to KUsports.com for more updates.

Reply 11 comments from Jerry Walker Steve Corder Bobby Oviemena Birhiray Matt Tait Kingfisher Michael Maris Lcjayhawk Ken Schmidt Onlyoneuinkansas Ashwingrao

What’s in store (if anything) for KU football coach Charlie Weis’ staff this offseason?

We already know that offensive line coach Tim Grunhard is leaving the Kansas University football staff, so that's at least one change that KU coach Charlie Weis will make to his coaching staff.

But will there be any more?

Weis was asked that very question following KU's loss to Kansas State in the season finale and he said nothing would be done — if anything at all — until the end of the December recruiting period, which arrives Dec. 14.

Dec. 18 is mid-year transfer signing day and although the Jayhawks won't have a crazy haul of mid-year juco guys signing this year like they had last year, there figure to be at least a couple of guys who make their commitments official on that day.

Getting back to the coaching staff, Weis likely gave the answer he did for two reasons. 1. Recruiting time is precious and it would be a bad move to make a change during that period because it could cost KU valuable time and resources on the recruiting trail. 2. Even if Weis has no plans to make a change himself, you never know which members of his staff could be looking around for other opportunities or which schools might be interested in some of Weis' guys.

We've already seen a report that wide receivers coach Rob Ianello has thrown his name into the hat for the open head coaching gig at the University of North Dakota. And it seems logical to think that whether Ianello gets that job or not, he could be coaching elsewhere in 2014.

As for the rest of the staff, I don't anticipate anyone else leaving. It's difficult, because after a losing season you always assume that at least a couple of guys could be in jeopardy of losing their jobs, but with Grunhard already out and Ianello potentially on the move, those departures would represent change at KU's two weakest positions last season.

Here's a quick look at a few other coaching staff items of business that are worth keeping an eye on:

• If Ianello leaves, by his choosing or otherwise, not only would KU have to find a wide receivers coach, but it also would need to find a recruiting coordinator since Ianello handles both roles. Running backs coach Reggie Mitchell has done that job before and he would be a likely candidate to inherit that role again, provided he wanted it. If not, Weis could always find a receivers coach who could handle both roles like Ianello, who has been recruiting on KU's behalf during the past several days. The recruiting coordinator role is serious business, though, so if there's a need to fill that position, it won't be taken lightly.

• We learned this season that linebackers coach Clint Bowen had transitioned into the role of acting defensive coordinator, with Dave Campo focusing on his job of coaching the defensive backs. Campo and defensive line coach Buddy Wyatt worked closely with Bowen to put together the game plan each week and the move seemed to work well. The title never changed hands, though, so it'll be interesting to see if that is addressed in the offseason.

• Finally, by now you've probably read our report from last week about Rice offensive coordinator John Reagan being Weis' target to come in to replace Grunhard and become KU's offensive coordinator. The move likely would have already taken place had Rice lost to Tulane last week. But since the Owls won and advanced to the Conference USA title game, Reagan stuck around to coach in that game agaisnt Marshall, which will be played at 11 a.m. Saturday. Reagan to KU could become official any time Saturday after the game or Sunday, so keep an ear out for the confirmation.

Reply 24 comments from Steve Bower Baldjedi Dirk Medema Erich Hartmann Michael Maris Kingfisher Matt Tait Jim Jackson RXDOC Tony Bandle and 7 others