Tom Keegan: How many more games for David Beaty?
Now that Sheahon Zenger is gone, the length of the Kansas football coach’s tenure will be based purely on what’s best for the university’s future, not what’s best for anybody else’s job security.
Firing Beaty would have been the same as Zenger firing himself because there was no way anybody would have allowed him to hire another football coach.
So Beaty operated in a no-fire zone, and didn’t need to fear any oversight from his boss, who was powerless to stop him from doing anything he saw fit, such as scaling way back on recruiting high school football players and building the program in a way that made the scholarship situation worse, not better.
Now, with a new, experienced athletic director hired and set to start Aug. 1, oversight becomes a much bigger part of the landscape. The pertinent question: How quickly will Jeff Long make a change if he determines that Beaty is not up to the task?
For example, if Nicholls State comes into Kansas Memorial Stadium for the 6 p.m. kickoff Sept. 1, will Long have seen enough and make a change to make a clear statement that not good enough is not good enough whether it happens after one week or 12 weeks?
There would be no painting a loss to the FCS school on the rise as anything other than the latest evidence of an unremitting regression of a KU program that keeps setting a new basement.
No excuse for losing to Nicholls State would fly, given that the Colonels not so long ago were to the FCS what Kansas is to the FBS. The difference: Nicholls State has progressed.
Nicholls State hired Tim Rebowe as head coach on Nov. 21, 2014, two weeks before KU hired Beaty.
Both men were charged with major rebuilding projects. The Colonels were coming off an 0-11 season, KU a 3-9 mark.
Rebowe’s records: 3-8, 5-6, 8-4.
Beaty’s records: 0-12, 2-10, 1-11.
Kansas, its defense strengthened by an offseason recruiting strategy designed at going all in on 2018, isn’t likely to lose to Nicholls State, but what if it does? What then?
The argument against making a change right then and there basically is the absence of a strong argument for it. It’s not as if Kansas could, one week into the season, or 11 for that matter, raid Toledo’s football staff, hiring Jason Candle and most of his assistants to replace Beaty and most of his staff.
The next coach will come from outside the current staff, so using games to audition a candidate for the job isn’t an option.
The last time Kansas employed an interim coach, defensive coordinator Clint Bowen got the call when Charlie Weis was fired with a 2-2 record in 2014. Tom Hayes coached the final three games in 2001, when Terry Allen was fired after going 2-6.
Weis obviously wasn’t fired because of his record. After all, who fires 2-2? His personality hastened his departure.
It’s conceivable Beaty could survive embarrassing loss after embarrassing loss for the entire season, but he won’t last if he lies to his boss about the extent to which he is responsible for the scholarship mess in the event Long asks him for a 100 percent accurate list of every scholarship he has handed out during his reign of error. Simply saying he has done it the right way won’t cut it with Long.
How long into the season Beaty will last is a question asked far more often than which of the three quarterbacks will start the opener. That proves that a large percentage of the fan base has lost interest in the program and won’t tune back in until a new coach is in place.
Will 0-1 bring about change? Or 1-2? Or will a 1-5 record when the bye week hits be the time? Might Beaty be allowed to ride out a 2-10 season, which, by the way, would improve his winning percentage?
Long is new. He will want to see for himself what so many others no longer have the stomach to watch again.
When will he make the move? It’s as intriguing a question as surrounds KU football at the moment, but it’s probably not very important.
Even if change comes on an interim basis, hope won’t arrive until the 2019 season, so it’s probably best to prepare to watch 12 more times what you’ve already seen way too many times.