More than 100 KU alums gathered in Dallas last night to greet Coach David Beaty, Assistant Coaches Rob Likens and Reggie Mitchell and Athletic Director Sheahon Zenger. Compared to a similar event with Contract Charlie two years ago, this one was a lot more fun and a lot less tense.
When Weis came, he brought all the assistants to work the room while he sat in the corner and ate dinner. Then he sat and made a bunch of empty promises, talked about each position and answered a bunch of questions, referring to himself a bunch. Last night's gathering was much more light-hearted and spirited. Coach Beaty worked the room before and after his speech, getting to know each of us, asking about where in the DFW area we lived, where we worked and our experiences as KU students and fans.
I brought up my time as a writer and editor at The Dallas Morning News, and, having been a high school coach in the area for 12 years, he rattled off the names of several of my former co-workers. He may not be the man to bring KU football back to the top of the Big 12, but Beaty can work a room and remember people as well as anyone in coaching.
Zenger began by updating everyone on Memorial Stadium renovations. It was a brief one: Money is needed to renovate the stadium. A budget has not been set, but it could fall between $70 and $270 milllion. Zenger said someone who attended the Houston event the night before posted on Jayhawk Slant that the budget was more than $400 million, but that would be to knock down the stadium and build it from scratch. "We dont't want to knock down Memorial Stadium," Zenger said, "but if we did, the budget would be that high. Baylor's new stadium was $350 million, so that's the number you'd be looking at."
Coach Beaty then took the mic and introduced his assistants, who did some Q&A with the crowd. Likens began his session by saying he wasn't going to talk about who would play quarterback, and that the offense would be mostly one-back with the quarterback in the shotgun. That didn't mean they'd pass on every play, but it would be a quick-tempo, "spread-like" offense. Likens also said the overall style of the offense would depend on what's available. So if running was a strength, they would lean toward that. But he didn't have any comment on the status of anyone, including Michael Cummings.
Beaty then talked about his excitement about being in Dallas, close to his hometown of Garland, Texas, and the ability to see the many friends and family he had in the area. He introduced his father-in-law and brother-in-law, who live nearby.
Most of his talk was things we'd heard before, he was asked about the recent Grantland article but said he hadn't read it. His focus is on getting as many players on scholarship as possible. He referred to the fact that KU had just 65 scholarship players and that work was still being done to add more, but that's likely the number they'd have this fall.
What was most impressive was he expanded on the idea of "being competitive" by saying that he wanted the team to "be competitive and win games." He stressed the importance of being patient and building slowly - something the crowd was in agreement with - and doing things the right way.
Above all, Beaty said, the goal was not to win football games or championships, but to help students graduate and become better people. He introduced former Jayhawk Daymond Patterson, who was recruited from nearby Mesquite, Texas, and still lives in the area. There were several former players with ties to North Texas in attendance and it was evident that he wants them to be part of the program.
Finally, Beaty asked all of us to do our job by supporting the team and attending games. "I came to KU in fall 2008, fresh off that Orange Bowl win," he said. "Memorial Stadium was full and rocking and we need that again."
So that's my challenge to you, Rock Chalk Talk. I'm going to the Tech game on Oct. 17 and the TCU game in Fort Worth. Surely all of you can match that or more. Let's get behind this team and climb out of this together. Rock Chalk Jayhawk!