Introducing new KU football coach David "What you see is what you get" Beaty
It can be tough to condense 45 minutes of emotion, one-liners, laughs and handshakes into a few words, but newly named KU football coach David Beaty made it easy.
Before we go on, let me remind you that there is no way of knowing how Beaty's time at Kansas will turn out. Will he be the guy who turns the program around? Perhaps. Does he have the skills to make the leap from college assist to head coach? We'll soon find out. Can he attract the right people — both coaches and players — to bring change to a program in desperate need of a new direction? We will not know the answer to that until we see what happens on Saturdays next fall.
But what we do know — and this we learned in a mere four days since hearing that Beaty would be KU's next coach — is that the new KU coach is an honest man who prefers hard work above all else and would rather show you and prove to you that things are different than stand up in front of you and talk about it.
That much was obvious from his introductory news conference Monday morning, as Beaty talked about all of the things that led him to this point — both in football and in life — and emphasized all of the places he wants this program to go in the future.
He made no promises about results or wins or statistics or milestones. Instead, he focused only on the things he could control — work ethic, operating the right way, recruiting quality athletes, bringing in hungry coaches.
It was enough to impress just about anyone at any school, but, so often, that's what these press conferences are about. We've seen it plenty of times before around here, but rarely with the sincerity behind what Beaty showed on Monday.
What you saw on Monday morning was the real David Beaty, warts and all. He said Texas a couple of times when he meant to say Kansas. (And later cringed over it when his wife, Raynee, pointed it out). He offered his “condolences” to the search committee for having selected him — something that could have been taken as an intentional, dead-panned joke or an accidental slip — and he repeated words a few times throughout his news conference. In short, he delivered a genuine look at who he is and how he operates. And, at least from where I sat, I found the mishaps and hiccups refreshing.
You've heard the phrase “winning the press conference” uttered time and time again. And, although there is some skill involved in doing that, it really isn't that tough to do. Prepare a well-thought-out speech. Deliver it with confidence. Appeal to all of the aspects of your new school that get the fans fired up. Repeat as needed.
Winning what comes after the press conference — quarters, halves, games and championships — is what Beaty seems more interested in, and yet he made no promises in that area either.
Instead, he said he would do everything in his power to send next year's senior class out with a special season. He did not say anything about a bowl victory. He did not talk about winning the Big 12. He only said he would commit all he had to that group of seniors and inspire the rest of the team to follow his lead. Whatever that brings, it brings.
That's the best part about KU's new head football coach. He does not appear to be a guy who is interested in trying to be somebody or something he's not. After the press conference, I asked Beaty to recall the toughest question thrown his way during the interview process. His answer only emphasized the kind of guy we're dealing with and the kind of person he seems to be.
“One of the toughest questions for me, because I don't look at it this way and this is where I have a hard time; my vision is so focused on the positive that I just don't look at negatives. I won't allow myself. The hardest question was, 'What do you see as the challenges?' And, the thing is, every day, for some people, is a challenge. And then for others, and this is gonna sound cliché, but, for others, every day is an opportunity. And that's how it is for me. I do a front hand-spring out of bed every day.”
“Some of those things sound crazy,” he continued. “But they roll off my tongue because that's who we are.”
Whether Beaty wins or winds up being the right guy for Kansas is up for debate and will not be determined for some time. But he's got the right mindset to get the job done. And, for the first time in half a dozen years, it matches the mindset that led KU to the 2008 Orange Bowl.
With that established, it's now time to see what he can do.