Thursday, September 8, 2016


Tom Keegan: Saturday presents a chance to show football rebuilding project on schedule

Kansas football coach David Beaty gives out instruction during a drill in KU's Fan Appreciation Day practice on Saturday, August 20th at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas football coach David Beaty gives out instruction during a drill in KU's Fan Appreciation Day practice on Saturday, August 20th at Memorial Stadium.


Typically, a college football team is pretty much as good as its players who were high school juniors and seniors four years ago.

Successful programs stock recruiting classes with high school athletes and red-shirt freshmen who both are not needed right away and have enough potential to want to keep in the program for five years.

And on game day, at least a third of the snaps at most positions are filled by players in their fourth or fifth seasons in the program. Talented underclassmen and junior-college or four-year transfers blend in.

At least that’s how it works in stable football schools. Kansas is in the beginning stages of an attempt to become one of those again under second-year head coach David Beaty.

Give Beaty and predecessor Charlie Weis credit for not poor-mouthing the coach they replaced for leaving so little talent behind. Both, especially Beaty, had plenty of material had they chosen to go down that road. Instead, I’ll travel it without looking back at Turner Gill’s recruiting classes, other than to say they had more high school talent and speed than Weis’, but were equally abysmal at offensive line.

Four players remain from Weis’ first recruiting yield, the Class of 2012. Linebacker Courtney Arnick and safety Greg Allen appear on the second team on the depth chart. Tevin Shaw starts at nickel back and injured offensive tackle Jordan Shelley-Smith was competing for a starting spot.

Four players remain on the roster from Weis’ second batch of recruits, the Class of 2013. Two of them, quarterback Montell Cozart and tight end Ben Johnson, hooked up on KU’s first touchdown of 2016. Linebacker Kellen Ash and defensive back Colin Spencer are not on the depth chart.

So that’s eight players remaining from Weis’ first two recruiting classes, six of whom appear on the two-deep when healthy. Compare that to 20 from the same two recruiting classes on Saturday opponent Ohio’s roster, with as many as 18 appearing on the two-deep.

(Interestingly, 25 of the 51 players signed in Weis’ first two classes left the program before using up their eligibility.)

Scoring a victory Saturday against a far more stable program that will put so much more experience on the field would qualify as a significant sign that Beaty’s rebuilding effort is on schedule and he has the program headed in a more competitive direction.

Nobody will want to hear that if Kansas loses a close one, but the numbers that speak to the Jayhawks' inexperience don't lie.


David Robinett 5 years, 11 months ago

I would say depressingly rather than interestingly.

"Interestingly, 25 of the 51 players signed in Weis’ first two classes left the program before using up their eligibility"

Steve Corder 5 years, 11 months ago

The impact of "25 of 51" would mean more if there were a corresponding sample of B12 and various BCS program (of the struggling kind) numbers, but on the face-of-it is not a good number.

Tom, ever wonder how many entering KU students finish with KU degrees after 4 or even 5 years?

Brett McCabe 5 years, 11 months ago

Using Tom's numbers, our effectiveness rate was about 12% under Weis, while Solich is probably in the 40% range (this depends on how many scholarships they actually offered). Certainly, that sort of roster productivity has been a key ingredient in Ohio's consistent success. I've posted this before....Mason said once that a one-in-three success rate with recruiting was about all you could count on. At the time, this number seemed very low to me, but a 33% effectiveness rate would have had a big, positive impact on this program over the past few years.

I listened to Beaty on the radio this morning and the guy definitely has the energy and charisma that the program needs in order to succeed in refilling the roster. You can also sense a growing confidence in him as he speaks to the media, and I'm sure that this comes across to recruits and families when he's working with them. Get a win tomorrow and the program could get a really nice boost in energy, fan support and recruiting.

Karen Mansfield-Stewart 5 years, 11 months ago

I'm hardly an insider, but I've heard nothing but positive things about Beaty & Co. and his recruiting has been targeted towards future stability and success, rather than the illusive immediate impact JUCOs and transfers Weiss hung his hat on.

Beaty definitely started with a pretty bare cupboard and has made solid strides towards respectability.
He's got a hard job though with the difficulty of the Big 12 now, and likely getting nothing but more competitive with the likely addition of Houston and BYU.

However, if we can pull off a win this weekend, they will have achieved my win hopes/expectations for the whole year in the first two weekends!

Jay Scott 5 years, 11 months ago

Metrics like the ones in this column provide an interesting prism to analyze. Wins are another one. Let's hope for another this weekend.

Regardless of your preferred metric, there's more optimism but realistic respect for the task at hand. That's encouraging.

One wonders what a loss to Kansas might do to Solich. He hasn't won the lowly MAC in 5 seasons, is 53-35 in conference overall and lost at home to an awful Texas State program.

Bob Schutz 5 years, 11 months ago

Excellent article. I always wondered why the Naval Academy could field a more competitive football team, despite being under-sized (height and weight restrictions). I have guessed it was due to better discipline and intelligence. After reading Tom's article, I would also guess that the turnover in players is significantly less than KU.

Successful sports organizations are delicate mechanisms with many moving parts. It will be interesting how things turn out under Coach Beaty. He has my support.

Justin Anderson 5 years, 11 months ago

Too be fair, you wrote an article indicating that you wouldn't touch the 1.5 wins bet in Vegas for over/under wins. This would indicate that a 2 win season would exceed your expectations and so a 2nd win this early in the season would probably be an indication that KU's rebuilding(from being totally dead) is ahead of schedule.

John Fitzgerald 5 years, 11 months ago

Winning the first game was an expectation. Winning the first game 55-6 was not. This ultimately changes the expectations against Ohio, meaning the consensus would most likely agree that they're expected to beat Ohio. Lets hope the expectations hold and they even go as far as exceeding them.

Dirk Medema 5 years, 11 months ago

We've already exceeded expectations as you mentioned.

The 12 point swing in betting really just shows you punch drunk our fan base is relative to the frustration of theirs. This one is essentially a toss-up, but yes it would be nice as always to win it.

Chris DeWeese 5 years, 11 months ago

I think the team is getting their swagger back and fully expect to beat Ohio. I think we now have an excellent chance to win and make a statement, that KU is turning things around. It does make me think about the Mangino legacy and how Beaty and Jackson (and possibly Bowen) are carrying that torch.

Randy Bombardier 5 years, 11 months ago

At least now we will score. But.the question is if we can stop anyone?

Michael Lorraine 5 years, 11 months ago

Unless Montell wins the Heisman that pretty much closes the book on Charlie.

Humpy Helsel 5 years, 11 months ago

Great to win, but if we do not, we still need to see offensive firepower, steady defense, and very importantly, solid special teams. Are we competitive into the 4th quarter, do we hurt ourselves with turnovers, and do we get any ourselves? Also, how full are those stands? Building a program has to begin with impact on the field. But it must also include seeing fans show up and stay. Why would sought after recruits want to play in front of 25K when they can play in front of 50K plus at every home game? If it was me, the choice wouldn't be that hard to make.

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