Two years ago, first-year Kansas head coach David Beaty said in the future he'll look back and wonder how the 2015 Jayhawks even ran a play. It's unclear if we've reached Beaty's future but he now has higher expectations for the program.
Beaty arrived in December 2014, taking over a program that was run into the ground by Charlie Weis with head-scratching personnel moves, irresponsible recruiting and horrible in-game tactics that would get a Pop Warner coach fired.
Kansas had won 12 games over the previous five seasons and was a weekly punching bad for Big 12 teams. While Beaty has won just two total games in two years , he is slowly turning heads with player development, coaching moves — including hiring offensive coordinator Doug Meacham away from TCU — and remarkable recruiting.
Beaty, a former Kansas assistant (2008-09, 2011), received a contract extension after last year's two-win campaign and is the face of a $300-million facilities project. And he's now telling a tired fan base to be optimistic about a program 10 years removed an Orange Bowl title.
“We expect to go to a bowl game,” Beaty told the Lawrence Journal-World this week. “That’s big talk but we have to go do it.”
Heck, he would've made headlines with, "We expect to win four games this year."
Kansas hasn't reached the postseason since 2008 and hasn't won more than three games since 2009. In fact, they're 14-77 since October 2009.
Can they win six games? Here's a possible path:
- A 3-0 non-conference record with home wins over Southeast Missouri State and Central Michigan and a road victory over Ohio, the latter of which would be their first road win since 2009.
- Defeat either West Virginia (Sept. 23) or Texas Tech (Oct. 7) at home in their opening Big 12 games.
- Defeat either Iowa State (Oct. 14) or TCU (Oct. 21) on the road. Either would be their first Big 12 road win since October 2008.
- Win one of their final five games — home vs. Baylor, Kansas State and Oklahoma, and away vs. Texas and Oklahoma State.
Beaty will be mocked for his expectations. And while KU's recent history suggests that reaction is fair, the confidence is admirable. He didn't arrive in December 2014 spouting off Big 12 championship and College Football Playoff nonsense. He didn't even mention returning to national relevance or reaching a bowl game in 2015.
“Everybody can’t wait to see what we’re going to do,” junior receiver Steven Sims Jr. said. “It’s fun and we know that, so that’s why we work so hard. Our coaches and everybody on the team is hard working and we’re going to prove everybody wrong.”
Reaching a bowl game would earn Beaty another raise and extension, generate enough funds to take a big step forward with the $300-million project and earn him the Big 12 Coach of the Year Award (and a few National Coach of the Year votes).