Beaty accepted an enormous challenge when he took the head coaching job at Kansas this off-season. After Charlie Weis left the program in disarray in the early stages of last season, and the Jayhawks gritted their teeth through a tough conference stretch under interim coach Clint Bowen, Beaty took the reins of a depleted roster and was asked to turn KU from a perennial Big 12 doormat into a competitive program.
There have been more valleys than peaks, and in fact there really haven’t been any peaks considering the Jayhawks find themselves at 0-10 coming into this week’s matchup with West Virginia. But Beaty’s team showed plenty of confidence against TCU despite having a limited number of scholarship players on the roster.
Very few people, if anyone at all, were expecting an instantaneous turnaround, and Beaty said it will indeed take some time to construct a roster that is capable of consistently competing in the Big 12.
“It’s just going to take time,” Beaty said. “Because of rules, being able to recruit 25 in one year and having only 85 to work with. If you lose 25 seniors a year, you are not making up any ground. There will be attrition because it is a violent game. There’s going to be injuries. You are going to lose between one and five guys a year on average. You have to know you are going to lose some. You find away to work within the rules to get as many scholarship players as you can."
Retooling that roster will be difficult for many reasons, but the most glaring is perhaps the most simple: Kansas simply hasn’t won enough in recent history to attract the number of quality recruits that are required to engineer such a turnaround.
Because of that, Beaty is going after the blue-collar, overlooked recruits that other traditional Big 12 powers would likely ignore. He said he has enjoyed embracing that technique, and that there is plenty of talent out there that many schools are ignoring.
“I had more fun recruiting here (than other places he has coached) because we’re recruiting hard-edged guys who, for whatever reason, have been overlooked,” Beaty said. "The truth is there are so many really good football players out there in this day and age, so we’re kind of enjoying being able to recruit guys who have a little bit of chip on their shoulder.”
The old chip on the shoulder cliché is a bit overused these days, but Beaty’s team really does have a right to use it. That chip was evident when the Jayhawks gave TCU their best shot, and nearly took down the Horned Frogs last Saturday in Fort Worth.
"I was really proud of our guys in the red zone," Beaty said. "I thought they started fast. Those guys had some big-time fourth down stops, had three three-and-outs to end the game, got some sacks. I thought they did a good job following the game plan. We gave up chunks of yardage, but the one thing in this game is we were able to eventually get the stop and not allow points to mount up."
It was just another example of why the games aren’t played on paper. Anything can happen on any given Saturday, and Kansas will be looking to prove that yet again when it is yet again cast in the underdog role this week against West Virginia.
"When we first got here we had to use a bunch of walk-on guys just to get through practice," Beaty said. "But then our coaches went out and found guys who could help us first practice, and then play."
Beaty also noted West Virginia's newfound ability to use the run game under Dana Holgorsen.
"The one thing I am most impressed by Dana's team is he has had his team in position to get wins over some really good teams in conference," Beaty said. "He has done that consistently. The thing is, he was known as an air raid guy and we have seen him throw it all over the place. The thing I love about Dana is he will do what he has to do to win. He finds that tweak every season. One of the smartest minds in all of college football. You have to prepare for anything and everything every week and every year. He is really good at what he does. I was at Texas A&M last year and I studied them and Dana, and as I watched them, they have a really good quarterback who can run QB power. He moves guys and gets you a gap and the guy is smart. The dude's smart. It's really fun to watch his football when I'm not playing him."