Saturday, November 3, 2018


Tom Keegan: Coaching change would energize fanbase

Kansas head coach David Beaty yells at a player during the third quarter on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas head coach David Beaty yells at a player during the third quarter on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017 at Memorial Stadium.


The sun eventually popped out of the clouds Saturday at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium, but the outlook for Kansas football remained the same: indefinitely gloomy.

The final scoreboard read Iowa State 27, Kansas 3. The color scheme in the stands and the loudest roars from the crowd painted an even more damning view of the state of the program.

On the east side of the stadium, renamed for a man whose largesse dropped $50 million spread out over five years into the football program’s coffers, unoccupied chair backs formed the only blocks of blue, swallowed in seas of red.

Big plays from the Cyclones triggered loud approval from visitors from the North who had driven 268 miles.

Big stops by the Kansas defense were greeted with polite applause. Outnumbered in the stands, outmanned on the field and outcoached on the sidelines, KU did what it always does after a rare Big 12 victory. It lost. Badly.

During the unsightly setback, my phone sparked with two different people telling me that a couple of wealthy KU graduates, one a very familiar face but not necessarily known for being a donor to athletics, were spreading the rumor that KU was zeroing in on Les Miles. I spent a good chunk of the game trying and failing to confirm it, happy to have a distraction from the mess unfolding on the field. I have viewed that KU football rerun more times than the Dragnet “Blue Boy” episode and unlike Joe Friday’s lectures, it gets old. Sgt. Friday deals in just the facts, but rumors do make the rounds, including one that held that Monday and not Sunday will be the day that Beaty learns his fate.

Know this about coaching hirings and firings: They have not taken place until the school announces them. And as of Saturday night, Beaty still was the Kansas football coach, Miles still on the outside of college football, wanting back in.

Not long after the game, Soren Petro of 810 Radio tweeted that he had confirmed that Kansas would announce at about noon Sunday that Beaty is out. I was unable to confirm that. Petro had tweeted shortly after the game’s end that he had heard Miles would be the next coach, but couldn’t confirm it.

As a coaching free agent, Miles would not come with the $6 million buyout required to pry Dave Doeren from North Carolina State, which pays the former KU assistant and Kansas native $3 million per year.

The predictable crash on the field in the wake of last week’s thrilling 27-26 victory vs. TCU put many in the mood for change because with change comes hope.

Riding momentum into the next week never happens around here.

Mark Mangino was the coach, Todd Reesing the junior quarterback in 2008, the last time Kansas won consecutive Big 12 games.

That’s not surprising considering the Jayhawks have lost 63 of their past 67 conference games.

The day will come when this sort of failure to perform to conference standards and getting outdrawn by the opponent’s fan base on a day that just 15,543 were in attendance will get KU ejected from the Big 12, regardless of the consistent dominance of the basketball juggernaut.

The only way to prevent that catastrophe is to build a competitive football team that spins the turnstiles. That will take a big enough commitment to football from the university and donors — KU ranks last in the Big 12 in football spending — to attract a quality coach confident in his ability to give the program a more impressive facelift than Jane Fonda’s, if that’s even possible.

All season, Beaty (3-6 this season, 6-39 overall) has been multitasking, at once coaching and walking the plank. In case you’re wondering, he did not wear a blindfold Saturday, but the fact you had to ask tells you that the game did not amount to his finest three hours.

In typical cursed KU football fashion, Beaty followed his best play-calling week with his worst, a day marred by too much attempted razzle-dazzle near the goal line that went frazzle-fizzle every time.

Somewhere in the depths of Beaty’s now nervous mind lies the reality that Miles remains without a team to coach and, oh by the way, first-year Kansas athletic director Jeff Long worked 10 years with Miles at Michigan.

An outgoing, friendly man, especially in comparison to so many in his profession, Beaty is as loyal a soldier as can be found, so if Long wants to announce that Miles will be the new coach, but will be in evaluation/recruiting mode, and Beaty will coach the final three games of the season, Beaty would do so without complaint.

The benefit of that unusual timing would be to bring the sort of attention to KU football that would energize a dead recruiting class that has one commitment. It also would give Miles a chance to assemble a coaching staff and pop in on practices to review the practice performance of the returning players and assistants.

It seems as if appointing an interim coach would be a cleaner way to handle it though.

If the program that has miles to go before even reaching the sign that says how many more miles remain to reach respectability doesn’t turn to Miles, plenty of capable existing head coaches would find the Kansas job attractive. It will pay well and with modest success could lead to the coveted genius label.

And in Long, the next Kansas coach will have an AD smart enough to know that doing well in a facilities arms race isn’t as important as getting stronger, more accurate arms and quicker legs.

Beyond the $26 million indoor practice facility being constructed just west of the stadium, Long wisely has shifted from the ill-timed, unrealistic campaign to raise $300 million for stadium renovations to beefing up the resources, such as the number of grunt workers studying video and analytics, as well as increasing pay for assistant coaches.

The most pressing stadium need lies in putting more bodies in the stands, however uncomfortable the metal bleachers. Playing competent, competitive football is the only way to do that.


Kirk Garrett 3 years, 9 months ago

Keegan, I’ve always liked the way you write, even when I haven’t agreed with your point of view (I usually do.)

You use words well.

Michael Maris 3 years, 9 months ago

Question is, will Miles be able to keep Coach Hull in the fold and keep the recruiting pipeline from Louisiana open? I would hope so. But, Miles needs to get a damn good OC and a reputable QB coach as well.

Gerry Butler 3 years, 9 months ago

Here is what I've thought about that.--- - Miles would be nice no doubt , seems like when a new Coach comes in they want their new staff - -BUT I would hope If he is the next Coach that he would at least talk to Tony and see if they couldn't come to an understanding and retain Tony. -that is the one I for sure would want him to keep.

Then we know Miles is getting older , so sign him to like a 5 year contract , and let Tony be an under study -- -let Les groom him teach Tony the game during these 5 years and after the 5 yrs - -IF Les then steps down just let Tony step in and take over. Just my thoughts

Dane Pratt 3 years, 9 months ago

Les Miles has been out of coaching two seasons. Why has no one picked him up?

Mike Hart 3 years, 9 months ago

Dane, because he is 64 years old... and was fired at LSU for his inability to put together any kind of offense. LSU put more players in the NFL under Les Miles than any other school...and they had great defenses. Their offense..and in particular, their passing game... was brutal. Twice they lost games due to clock management during his last season.. ran an extra play and didn't stop the clock, missing out on FG opportunity. Yeah, go hire who would be the 7th oldest football coach in NCAA Div 1. That's the kind of energy we need to rebuild this program. Les Miles... SMH

Dane Pratt 3 years, 9 months ago

Thanks Mike.

Anyone care to offer a rebuttal?

Brian Wilson 3 years, 9 months ago

THAT IS THE QUESTION. We don't want to lose what talent we already have. If I were Long and sit down with Tony Hull and Pooka would be on the menu. "Pooka" is a brand that you can build upon.

So, Miles is a good plan. He knows how to win. But can he build a system and adjust a system around the talent of players and coaches that he's got. Some of our young coaches and players are good and we should keep them. Tony Hull was a very good high school coach and the guy is very smart being a math major that worked for NASA. IMO, Tony should be considered for more if he wants it. If there is some way we can hire a coach that is flexible enough to win with what he is given then that's the guy I want. A guy like Bill Belichick come to mind. LOL!!

Randy Bombardier 3 years, 9 months ago

Why wait? The hole just gets bigger and deeper. We won't be able to recruit until a change is made. We are losing some shoes that won't easily be filled on this team. Do it now! Analysis paralysis anyone?

Robert Brock 3 years, 9 months ago

Tomorrow is a good day for the announcement. Monday morning would be OK too.

Steve Corder 3 years, 9 months ago

Why would an AD fire a 6-39 coach, and ask that coach to stay on and continue with the same old management of the team while the new man elvaluates practices and operations in such close proximity? Awkward. I just don’t see it.

Maybe, just maybe a current KU coach as the interim coach on the field with the new guy doing the evaluation of the entire program. Still odd.

Aaron Paisley 3 years, 9 months ago

Les Miles does not run the same offense as Beaty. Miles does not use the same terminology as Beaty. It's not realistic for players to learn a new playbook in 4 days. That's why when a coach is fired, a new head coach doesn't immediately take over.

Chris Bailey 3 years, 9 months ago

Miles isn't going to be coaching if he is hired. He's evaluating and recruiting, building his program the way he wants it. Including interviewing a staff. It makes little difference who runs the team the rest of the season as most if not all will be let go.

Mike Hart 3 years, 9 months ago

Well, he could never build an offense at LSU. They could never pass the football.

Chris Bailey 3 years, 9 months ago

Maybe not but I'm betting he would change his tune in the Big12. He knows the offenses that teams run. He'd build a stellar defense and if we could have an average offense we'd be competitive.

Suzi Marshall 3 years, 9 months ago

Great column Tom. One of your best. All of us Kansas fans and alum will miss you. I'll be following your work in Boston. Work on that short game and keep the ball on the short grass.

Brett McCabe 3 years, 9 months ago

I missed something...where/when is Tom headed?

Suzi Marshall 3 years, 9 months ago

Bill Self broke the news Tom was leaving at the end of the Washburn post game presser.

Sae Thirtysix 3 years, 9 months ago

. . .yet the other sports columnists will appreciate having a shot at getting a donut in the LJW break room. Buh bye Keegan.

Andy Godwin 3 years, 9 months ago

Jeff Long must like you Tom, if he announcing a coaching change this week. I guess that will be your going away present. It will finally allow you to publish the article you must have penned after the loss to Nichols. Clearly making a change now will not change the number of fans in the stands for senior day against Texas. No new coach will take over the only field reigns until next season (who would want to take responsibility for the wins-losses for the final 3 games on their resume?). After watching the Alabama-LSU (actually think Pooka could have gained more than 12 yards against Bamba) and Oklahoma-TTU games last night, it is truly embarrassing the lack of KU fan support, especially from the student body, for our student athletes. Clearly as a whole we are fare weather fans. Everyone is in agreement that a change must be made, but hopefully Long (a football man) will pick the best coach who can rebuild the program and is it in for the long hull, because this program is not a quick fix. We recyled a big named narcissist coach who was out of a job, and see where that lead the football program. Enjoy the east coast, your style should be a good fit. P.s. We never had the articles about the top 10 sports columnists to replace Keegan.

Jayson Hawk 3 years, 9 months ago

Stop with this Fair Weather Fan BS.... The fact than anyone shows up to the games shows you how dedicated we are. You are embarrassed by the lack of fan support? The on the field product doesn't embarrass you? Being called "The most incompetent thing i have ever seen in major college sports" on tv by an ESPN personality doesn't embarrass you? Having Matt Lienart literally laughing at us at half time on a nationally broadcast game doesn't embarrass you? Watching a coach continue to use timeouts on 4th down before he punts doesn't embarrass you? HAVING ONLY ONE COMMITMENT for next year doesn't embarrass you? Losing to an FCS team at home doesn't embarrass you? Being blown out and having the opposing team constantly covering the spread before halftime doesn't embarrass you? This has been going on for 10 years they arent fair weather fans they are a defeated fan base who is embarrassed of the program and rightfully so. Thank god BGL and Zenger are gone if we can finally get rid of the clown at head coach maybe we can start to get back on track. NONE of this has anything to do with the fan support. I actually felt gross for going to the game yesterday, at this point anyone going to games (including myself) wile he is still coach is just and enabler.

David Kemp 3 years, 9 months ago

Yes fair weather fans are when you have 2-3 bad seasons not 9 in a row with no hope!

Mike Hart 3 years, 9 months ago

I guess those TD drops by Stephen Robinson are Beaty's fault too.... and the receiver fumble was Beaty's fault too.

Kirk Garrett 3 years, 9 months ago

If the fans hadn’t voted with their feet, Zenger and Beaty would’ve hung around forever at this basketball school.

Chris Condren 3 years, 9 months ago

Blue Boy was one of the best Dragnet episodes!

Dee Shaw 3 years, 9 months ago

Good deal. Beaty is a joke. Going from David Beaty to Les Miles is HUGE upgrade. The only problem we might have is that we would have to change our field turf to grass. Miles likes to chew on on the field grass during games. Lol. Get it done A D Long. 15,000 fans in attendance on Saturdays game? PATHETIC.

Mike Hart 3 years, 9 months ago

Dee, before you jump on the 64 year old Les Miles bandwagon...go talk to some LSU fans about what they think about Les Miles...and what they think about the stale offenses he put on the field. Anyone...but Les Miles.

Joe Joseph 3 years, 9 months ago

"The most pressing stadium need lies in putting more bodies in the stands, however uncomfortable the metal bleachers. Playing competent, competitive football is the only way to do that."

THIS! Give people a reason to show up and they will.

Thomas Green 3 years, 9 months ago

I certainly hope all the folks throwing around theses rumors are correct! Any step toward turning football around is way overdue. Beaty has failed epically and it does not matter what kind of human being he is. He has been paid handsomely and failed! The first step simply must be firing Beaty. Everything short of that step has been done and it’s time for progress to begin. Whether that step alone will put fans in the stands really doesn’t matter. When that happens it should be immediate and complete, no keeping him around to coach the remainder of the season! Heck, I would be pleased with Daffy Duck as an interim as long as the Beaty era is officially over!

Jerry Ryan 3 years, 9 months ago

The missed placed anger at coaching staffs is laughable. Kansas has almost always ranked last in spending for football in the conference, and has gotten what they paid for. Only “phans” and “journalists” would expect consistent, competitive football from an administration that doesn’t care. BGL was entirely too hands off for far too long, and allowed incompetence in the athletic department who always cared about protecting the basketball program as the ticket to a job and contract renewal. This approach left the players holding the bag, hence the terrible attendance records overall. If “phans” want to be angry, be mad at at Kansas Administration. If “phans” want to demand change and have their voices heard, then join the Williams Fund, buy season tickets and occasionally show up, even when things aren’t ideal. ISU has pretty consistently outdrawn Kansas in football, even when those two programs were equally non-competitive. Kansas Cotten exactly what the “phans” and administration have focused on and paid for.

Brett McCabe 3 years, 9 months ago

Actually, by not showing up and being critical of both the administration and the coaches, KU football fans will finally (maybe?) see some change. You don't effect change by supporting bad decisions and bad management. You demand improvement.

And KU football fans, who have had literally nothing to cheer for since the 2007 team (that's a decade), will come back in droves the minute Long hires a competent coach. Season ticket sales will jump, donations will jump and excitement will be in the air.

I applaud ISU fans for their loyalty to their program but, remember, even before Campbell they had a legitimate head coach. Someone to support, even if the wins weren't coming. In contrast, KU has hired a so-so MAC coach, an incompetent and fired head coach and an unproven position coach to lead it's program. Bad administration? Yes. Bad coaches? Yes. Bad Program? Well, that sort of follows.

Jayson Hawk 3 years, 9 months ago

You think ISU and KU are equally as non competitive.... . Non competitive is really being nice to KU. ISU has now beaten KU 8 of the last 9 times, doesn't seem very equal. That should tell you why ISU fans show up more than KU fans. THEY ARE WAY BETTER. ....also i dont know if you can tell but ISU always thinks they are better than they actually are, Just look at their Better than average basketball teams they always gush over. That plays a part also.

Robert Brock 3 years, 9 months ago

KU has had a winning record in 15 of the last 60 seasons. How can the Jayhawks turn their fortunes around?

Michael Maris 3 years, 9 months ago

The program has become so bad, even the LJW Staff no longer does their post game stories on a consistent basis any more (ie, game balls and gassers, top 10 rankings, etc....). Truly sad, even the hometown sports page doesn't even have the energy to produce stories. BGL allowed the former AD's to destroy this program, is the true story behind all of the fanbase frustrations.

Dane Pratt 3 years, 9 months ago

Blaming the chancellor for the poor decisions by the AD? Why not blame the regents for hiring the chancellor?

I like Zenger and I think he did lots of good things for KU but the hiring of Weis and Beaty rest on his shoulders and no one else.

Craig Jackson 3 years, 9 months ago

Spit ballin' here and excuse if I have stepped on another post...are we the only D1 program whose bball team out draws its football team?

Dane Pratt 3 years, 9 months ago

That is both funny and sad and probably true.

Dirk Medema 3 years, 9 months ago

Interesting that the analysis in the article goes from spending the lowest on football to obviously paying the next coaches handsomely. It is right up there with people ignoring that we pay our HC less than most successful programs pay a coordinator and even that is after doubling his pay. Completely agree with those that will complain that it's the result of the previous poor hires/contracts.

It is interesting, actually depressing, to read the current trending topic. Sounds a lot like the most recent former coach. Plenty of differences but so many similarities too. Way too many.

I wonder what the narrative would be here if Doeren returned and then say proceeded to lose his first 6 or 7 games with top recruits leaving the program? Guessing it would get ugly quick.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.