Each year for the past several years, Athlon has put out a piece where opposing coaches from conference foes assess each team (except their own, hopefully). In order to get honest assessments, Athlon promises anonymity.
Regarding Kansas, the past couple of years actually haven’t been too bad, in comparison only to the most recent edition. In 2016, we read phrases like “nobody caught my eye as a potentially good player in the future” and “there’s not much to evaluate.” (Dorance Armstrong says hello.)
In 2017, we read comments like “their talent level is getting better,” they “have a good location and good facilities,” and “they’re recruiting well for what they have to work with reputation-wise.” However, they don’t “have a great QB situation right now.”
There was also this gem: “That wasn’t a fluke when they beat Texas. You can’t just show up anymore and think you’re going to win.” First of all, yes it was a fluke, and secondly, yeah you pretty much can, after all, MAC teams do.
So, we already see examples from each of the past two years where these anonymous coaches were wrong about something, and that’s something to keep in mind as we continue.
But boy howdy, what a change a year makes. In the 2018 version, almost every comment supports David Beaty while simultaneously trashing the rest of the program.
“I wouldn’t take that Kansas job unless I was desperate, had never been a head coach and was offered a 10-year, guaranteed contract.”
Really? You wouldn’t want to make a couple million dollars a year for a few years, and if you fail, go back to what you were doing before?
“David Beaty is truly one of the best guys in our business, and he wanted to be a head coach and he believed — like we all do — that you can win anywhere with the right combination of players and commitment. Here’s the problem with Kansas: It’s nearly impossible to get players, and the commitment from those running the show is hit and miss.”
So either KU has a good location and good facilities and is recruiting well (2017 quote) or they aren’t. Which is it? I do agree that the so-called commitment from the athletic department has been mostly a PR charade for the past 10 years. The hope is that new AD Jeff Long can change the culture of the department and that will spill over to the football program.
“That team wasn’t even close to winning a conference game, weren’t even competitive for the most part. That’s what’s scary. Believe me, David is a good coach.”
If David Beaty is such a good coach, why weren’t they competitive last year? Forget Big 12 matchups, KU couldn’t even hang with a couple of MAC schools.
“They’re just not that good at quarterback or deep at receiver, and that’s a problem considering the system they run.”
But David Beaty is a good coach. Ok...
“I really like the two skill guys outside the quarterback; those two guys (TB Khalil Herbert and WR Steven Sims Jr.) can play for anyone in our conference. They’re that good. But they’re lost without better play at quarterback, and Herbert is going to take too many blows behind a line that really struggles to run block. I’d love to see him run behind the Oklahoma line.”
I think a lot of average running backs would look like All-Conference players behind Oklahoma’s offensive line. That said, I don’t think Herbert is an average running back, and this coach seems to agree with that sentiment.
“They’re just not that good defensively. That’s being nice. No speed, no size in the front seven, no guys that can disrupt. No guys in the secondary who can break on the ball.”
So in one year we’ve gone from “their talent has gotten better” to this. But David Beaty is a good coach, you guys!
Also, just FYI, Daniel Wise and Joe Dineen are both first-team preseason All-Conference selections for 2018.
“I will say this: They played hard. They’re not that talented and they’re limited in what they can do. But they were fighting play after play. That’s a good sign that they believe in who is coaching them and how they’re prepared.”
Hey look, we’re winning on the play hard chart!
Call me paranoid, but here’s my takeaway from all of this: Coaches around the league want Beaty to keep his job because they know as long as he’s there, KU is basically a guaranteed win.
But guess what? It’s not impossible to win at Kansas. KU won a freaking Orange Bowl less than 11 years ago. What good coaches have come here and failed?
No, the good, Division 1 caliber coaches who come here, win. At the very least, they don’t lose seven of nine conference games by 22 or more points in year three of their tenure.
Year four is obviously key for Beaty. It will cost KU a lot of money to fire him prior to the end of the year; his buyout alone is $3M. The hope is that he can prove all these guys right - that he is actually a good coach - and win some games this year, enough to salvage a recruiting class and give Jeff Long a reason to retain him for 2019.
But if not, I have confidence that Long will be able to make the moves he needs to and bring in a competent coach that will put an end to Kansas as a national punchline.