Kansas football 2018 season-opener shapes up as compelling matchup
Nicholls State and Kansas were in the market for football coaches at the end of their disappointing 2014 seasons. Kansas hired David Beaty, receivers coach from Texas A&M. Nicholls State opted for Tim Rebowe, safeties coach at Louisiana Lafayette.
Beaty inherited a program coming off a 3-9 record, a seven-year bowl drought and a roster sorely lacking in offensive linemen.
Rebowe inherited an 0-12 squad located in Thibodaux, Louisiana, that had finished last in the Southland Conference for four consecutive seasons.
Three years into the job, Beaty has a 3-33 record. He hasn’t been able to establish a strong recruiting footprint in either his native Texas or Kansas, which led to an aggressive turn toward Louisiana. At the moment, 2 of 6 verbal commitments from The Boot still list Kansas as their top choices, but cornerback Coe Harris and running back Pooka Williams are being aggressively pursued by big-time college football programs.
Rebowe is 16-18, including 8-4 this past season when his team lost to South Dakota in the first round of the 24-team FCS playoffs.
Obviously, Louisiana produces far more football prospects than Kansas. Even so, it’s impressive how disciplined Rebowe has been in sticking to his hyper-local recruiting approach. In his first three recruiting classes, 58 of 64 signees came from Louisiana.
Why should anybody in Kansas care about what's happening with an FCS school from Louisiana? KU opens its 2018 football season Sept. 1 vs. Nicholls State in Memorial Stadium.
Curious as to whether Rebowe had the good fortune of inheriting a strong class that as seniors led the Colonels to an 8-4 record in 2017, I did some research on geauxcolonels.com.
Unfortunately for Kansas, not the case.
Nicholls State returns 89 percent of its rushing yards and 95 percent of its rushing touchdowns, 95 percent of its passing yards, 100 percent of its passing touchdowns, 79 percent of its receiving yards, 86 percent of its receiving touchdowns.
But will the blocks be there to free the quarterback and running backs to do their work?
The Colonels bring back 4 of 5 starting offensive linemen from the team that lost to Texas A&M by 10 points, an impressive showing, although not as shocking as the previous year’s outcome vs. an FBS opponent. Georgia defeated Nicholls State by two points in 2016.
Oddsmakers don’t always post lines for games pitting FBS schools vs. FCS ones. If there is a line for this one, it’s worth wondering which school will be favored. I wonder if an FCS road team ever has been favored against an FBS school. I’ll try to find out before the day is over.
On one hand, Beaty has a 2-1 record vs. FCS opponents and will finally have a full roster of scholarship players. On the other hand, look at the comparative records from 2014, the year before the coaches took over, through 2017.
Kansas: 3-9, 0-12, 2-10, 1-11.
Nicholls State: 0-12, 3-8, 5-6, 8-4.
The Colonels’ growth curve points steadily up. For the Jayhawks, it’s been down, up, down. It's reasonable to expect it to head back up in 2018, provided defensive linemen Dorance Armstrong return, rather than declare for the NFL draft.
Fascinating matchup between coaches who inherited similar situations, although at different levels of competition, and three years in have had starkly different results.