It’s never been done in college football and it never will be. But if there was a time to close off games to the public and just let a new coach and his team figure each other out in the solitude of an empty stadium, this is that time.
Kansas might not win a game this season. If you thought the Jayhawks were tough to watch under Turner Gill and Charlie Weis, wait until you get a load of David Beaty’s first season.
The Jayhawks barely have enough players for a two-deep. Their linebacker and secondary corps are paper thin and inexperienced.
And Montell Cozart is once again the starting quarterback because, well, there’s nobody else. When Michael Cummings was injured in the spring, the QB job fell in Cozart’s lap. He was the starter last season until Weis got fired. There is an obvious correlation between the two.
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It’s easy to pile on the Jayhawks because they’ve won only 12 games over the past five seasons and dealt with two head coaches who couldn’t have been worse choices to lead a power conference college football program.
Intentions were good with Gill and Weis, but results were catastrophic. And now the reigns have been turned over to a first-year coach, David Beaty, who is using exuberance to fill in the cracks, crevices and sinkholes where experience does not exist.
Beaty, who actually is replacing interim coach Clint Bowen, by far the best coach the Jayhawks have had since Mark Mangino, is saying and doing all the right things. It looks like he has a good handle on recruiting. He and his assistant coaches are beating the bushes across Kansas to make sure high school coaches know what the Jayhawks stand for.
There could be better things on the way for Kansas football.
But, of course, that’s all conjecture at this point. Nobody knows whether Beaty will pan out. It’s tough to creep up the standings in the Big 12 and up is the only direction the Jayhawks can go. But it’s not a given.
Beaty is trying to establish a different football culture in Lawrence. He’s all about enthusiasm and if you’re a KU fan there’s no doubt he’s been able to make you puff your chest some by just listening to him.
But whoever said “talk is cheap” got it right. Then again, talk is all Beaty’s been able to use – until Kansas’ season opener Saturday against South Dakota State at Memorial Stadium. It’ll be shown on Fox Sports Net. And tickets have been sold.
Ready or not, there will be eyeballs on the Jayhawks in a matter of hours.
Beaty’s upbeat personality will dictate an attempt at an up-tempo, Roadrunner offense. But a lack of personnel could give the Jayhawks more of a Wile E. Coyote look. You’ve got to have the horses to compete with the thoroughbreds in the Big 12 and horses are in short supply at KU.
But that could change. Beaty has, at least, created intrigue. The guy is just too gung-ho to be ignored. He’s persistently hopeful and not to the point – yet – of being irritating. KU fans are pulling for this guy in a way they didn’t pull for Gill (too aloof) or Weis (too out of his element).
What Beaty and KU fans are looking for in 2015 is promise. Every rational Jayhawk fan – and there still are rational fans out there – has low expectations. They’re aren’t going to cringe if the Jayhawks lose 10 games because anything better than that is unexpected.
Kansas will be judged on things that the scoreboard can’t reflect. Will there be a few breakout players? Will Cozart show that he belongs? Will the Jayhawks be in a game nobody gives them a chance to be in?
All anyone can ask this season is that the Jayhawks give them some unexpected surprises. Some things to make them smile and imagine a better future.
Those opportunities were few and far between during the previous two coaching regimes. Mostly, Kansas football fans felt depressed, counting down the games to a highly-anticipated finish of the season.
Beaty is fresh, young and excitable. For now, that’s all he is. Time will tell if he’s anything more.