Ok, so, look: I can give you a billion pieces of evidence to demonstrate how bad the Kansas football program has gotten since it fired Mark Mangino almost a decade ago. It hasn’t won a road game since September of 2008. It hasn’t won more than three games in a season since 2009. The current coach, David Beaty, is 3-33 overall and 1-26 in Big 12 play.
We’ll stop there.
Monday, KU announced it had fired athletic director Sheahon Zenger, a Kansas native and KU grad, who had been on the job since 2011. In that time, Zenger fired Turner Gill (5-19), hired Charlie Weis (6-22), fired Weis, and hired Beaty, who was until then the wide receivers coach at Texas A&M.
This spring, Kansas didn’t have enough linemen to hold a spring game.
Zenger was working on a project to improve KU’s football stadium, an idea that’s been going in fits and starts since Zenger’s predecessor, Lew Perkins, tried to get some luxury suites built before a losing season killed the momentum and scandal forced Perkins into retirement. Zenger’s stadium project looked like an attempt to kick the can down the road by an AD who knew he wasn’t going to be allowed to hire a third football coach, and therefore couldn’t fire Beaty without effectively firing himself. A facilities project was the only card he had left to play, and obviously the people who needed to be impressed, weren’t.
Firing Turner Gill and hiring David Beaty were both defensible decisions. Getting hoodwinked by Charlie Weis was Zenger’s actual fatal mistake. Given Weis’ terrible reputation in the football world, it was a weird hire. And when it soon became clear Weis was more interested in bleeding KU for a few paychecks than he was in coaching the team he once called a “pile of crap,” you had to wonder if Zenger did any homework on Weis before offing him a contract. Weis proved to be exactly what everybody said he was, and by the time he was done with it, the program had crumbled into total dilapidation.
David Beaty may be a good coach for all I know. The program is too bad to tell one way or another. When he got to KU, there were four total offensive linemen in the program.
That was in 2015, and nothing that has happened since indicates any forward momentum whatsoever. The Jayhawks aren’t just small, slow, and depthless, they’re constantly making blooper-reel mistakes, getting demolished on special teams, committing penalties. Last year against TCU, they gained 12 total offensive yards, a conference record.
It appears Beaty will get one more chance to do … anything, and then it’s a new AD hiring his own football coach and starting this whole thing over again.
Playing winning football at Kansas is one of the most difficult tricks in all of college athletics, and truth be told, Kansas fans don’t really even expect that. They want a bowl game maybe every other year, and maybe once a decade a team that gets into the Top 10. They dream of watching a four-win team that if things go right could make a bowl next year. Kansas football fans ask for so little, and get even less.
There is no obvious way out of this for KU. If there was, somebody would have gone there by now. The state of Kansas is not turning into Texas, and KU is not becoming Nebraska any time soon, either.
So what the hell. Fire the AD. Build a new practice field. Sell beer at the stadium. Run the triple option.
You gotta try something.