FRISCO, Texas — Embattled Kansas football coach David Beaty won’t put a number on the amount of victories he anticipates he’ll need next season to extend his tenure in Lawrence.
That answer, he said Monday, will be clear soon enough.
“When it comes to a win total, I don’t have that answer. I don’t know that many people do,” Beaty said at Big 12 media days at Ford Center. “But I know this: I bet around Christmas time we know.”
Beaty is coming off a disappointing 1-11 campaign which contributed to the eventual firing of former athletic director Sheahon Zenger, the man who hired Beaty and one of his closest allies. If the heat wasn’t already on Beaty for his 3-33 record over his first three seasons, the desire to impress new boss Jeff Long likely means even a career-best coaching job might not be enough to secure a fifth season.
Long, who has publicly stated his desire to “break the cycle” of KU football futility, officially starts as the school’s athletic director Aug. 1 and has identified the team’s Sept. 1 season opener against Division II foe Nicholls State as when “we will really start to know the progress of the program.”
While Beaty has yet to meet Long in person, the two appear on the same page on that matter.
“The name of the game in college sports is production,” Beaty said. ”... We’re going to start with Game 1 and the goal is to go 1-0 and then put as much focus on that next game to be able to do the same and repeat that.”
The talks between Beaty and Long have to this point been “introductory in nature,” the coach said, but it’s given him enough time to sense the administrator is “completely and totally behind” the football program.
“The thing that I really love about talking with him is his vision,” Beaty said. “I’ve always believed that your vision pulls you and as we talk about how he wants to create a championship at KU in all areas, we share the same things when it comes to how you get that done. The values that he shares are exactly what we share, which I think is going to be a terrific marriage between us.”
Championship? Yes, despite the adversity, that goal has not changed, echoing Long’s claim last Wednesday that “someday down the road, we’re going to win the Big 12 championship.”
If Long is looking for a coach who shares that moonshot-level ambition, Beaty checks that box.
“Our vision continues to remain the same at KU with our program: It’s to build a championship program that stands the test of time,” Beaty said. ”... Our guys have put the work in, but they know that’s the price of admission and there are a lot of things that we feel like we have learned over the last few years that are going to give us an edge.”
Ahead of his first face-to-face meeting with Long, Beaty at least publicly isn’t showing the fret one might expect from a coach perhaps in need of, to use his timetable, a Christmas miracle.
“We look forward to him getting to know our football players and coaches,” Beaty said, “and I firmly believe he’s going to fall in love with the culture these men have created. We’re excited for him to be a part of this with us.”
NO QUARTERBACK NEWS — As has been the case over his first three seasons in charge, Beaty enters fall camp without a publicly identified starting quarterback.
He said senior Peyton Bender, junior Carter Stanley and sophomore transfer Miles Kendrick are all contenders in the active competition.
“I know this: We’re going to narrow that down to two pretty quick, and our guys understand that. They know there’s an urgency there to get yourself in that top two,” Beaty said. “But we’re going to prepare all three because in this league it’s a very, very rough-and-tumble league for quarterbacks. At any point all of ’em have got to be ready and prepared.
Bender threw for 1,609 yards, 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions and made eight starts last season, while Stanley threw for 1,108 yards, four touchdowns and seven interceptions and made four starts. Kendrick comes to KU from College of San Mateo, where he threw for 1,889 yards, 18 touchdowns and nine interceptions while rushing for 417 yards and five touchdowns.
“We’d like to get it down to ‘the guy’ pretty quickly,” Beaty said. “Not going to give a timeline on it, but I will say we want to get it done pretty quickly.”
FOUR LEAVE PROGRAM — Beaty elaborated on the departures of two of the four Jayhawks have left the program in recent weeks, revealed Sunday when the team released its updated roster.
Running back Taylor Martin is leaving to return to Fort Worth, Texas, and be closer to his family, Beaty said. He rushed for 286 yards and three touchdowns last season.
“His family is terrific, but he’s had some issues back home that he felt like he needed to be closer there,” Beaty said. “We obviously love him and wish him the best. He certainly didn’t get kicked off of our team. But sometimes you do what you’ve got to do for family. His situation, my prayer for him is it doesn’t end his football career, that he’s able to handle that and get back into handling football.”
Tight end Kenyon Tabor, a Derby product, couldn’t overcome a likely career-ending injury, though Beaty anticipates him recovering enough to live “a normal, healthy lifestyle.”
“Man, we were looking forward to using him and him being a part of our program, because what a terrific talent he was, probably the best talent in the state the year we came out, so that’s hard to deal with not having him,” Beaty said. “We were counting on that. But we’re counting on him having a great life, and that’s the most important thing.”
The other two departures were offensive lineman Jacob Bragg and fullback Quinton McQuillan.