A coaching change is all but imminent for the Jayhawks, it’s just a matter of time. When Jeff Long and the Kansas athletic department finally pull the trigger and fire David Beaty, who could they turn to as a replacement?
September 5, 2015 began a new chapter of KU football – the David Beaty era. There wasn’t a better way to summarize the Kansas program than what took place on that Saturday afternoon, when the South Dakota State Jackrabbits, an FCS school, handed the Jayhawks a season-opening loss.
Fast forward to 2018, to the start of David Beaty’s fourth season at the helm of the Jayhawks. The Nicholls State Colonels, also an FCS school, trekked into Lawrence, looking at a $450,000 payday and a chance at the ever-notorious Kansas Jayhawks. A final glance at the scoreboard following a mistake-ridden contest read “Nicholls 26, Kansas 23.” It was the 34th loss for KU under Beaty, and it felt like the hardest to stomach.
A program with shockingly low expectations in August of 2015 has regressed even further over the span of three years. A coach had done the impossible: make Kansas football look even more pathetic. The optimistic and vibrant personality of Beaty gave hope early on, but eventually reached the point where excuses and “we’ll get there” became tired talk. Kansas needs a new football coach, and it needs one as soon as possible. It doesn’t just a head coaching change, but rather a cleaning house for a completely new look. Here are a few coaches that would seem fit to return to the football field, men that could return Kansas football back into contender status.
Les Miles – former LSU head coach
The first and most obvious call Jeff Long needs to make is to Les Miles. Miles has repeatedly been quoted as saying he wants to keep coaching, and what better choice than to come turn around a program that has been in peril for a decade. He began his head coaching career in 2001 at Oklahoma State before eventually turning over to LSU in 2005. As a head coach, he has amassed a record of 141-55, winning 8 bowl games and one national championship. A caliber of Les Miles would instantly boost recruiting efforts for the Jayhawks, which has been a huge thorn in their side. Beaty’s presence in Texas was supposed to do big things in the recruiting department, but he hasn’t been able to draw four-star talent to Lawrence like some fans had hoped he would. Drawing in the best talent starts with having the best and most respectable coaching staff possible. Les Miles and Jeff Long’s relationship has also been strong. Long was appointed as the first chairman of the College Football Playoff, and he reached that point because of his well-respected administrative past and relationship with college coaches.
The issue with Miles stems from his age. He is currently 64, and that could cause issues in the long term for the Jayhawks who are looking to rise to success.
Brett Bielema – former Arkansas head coach
The former Arkansas head coach is an obvious hire to look out for with his ties to Jeff Long when Long was AD for the Razorbacks. Bielema coached there from 2013 up until last year, and he also coached at Wisconsin before arriving in Fayetteville. He never quite seemed to mesh while with the Hogs, which led to his dismissal in 2017. While at Wisconsin, he led the Badgers to three consecutive Rose Bowls. Bielema has been shown to be a winner, and his current age of 48 seems young enough to be an effective coach for a rebuild.
Troy Morrell – former Butler CC head coach
Morrell is one of the best coaches I’ve seen growing up here in Kansas. As the head coach of the Butler Grizzlies, he went an unbelievable 154-22 before retiring early in 2014. The Griz won 3 NJCAA National championships under Morrell, an unprecedented feat in Kansas community college football. I’ve had the privilege to broadcast football games that his son (now graduated) competed in here at Buhler High school, and they are some of the nicest people I’ve met. Coach Morrell is a proven winner, but there is a big difference between JUCO and FBS, and you have to take that transfer into account as well. It might be a different hire than any other in college football, but the Hall of Fame coach may be worth it in the long run for the Jayhawks.
This team needs someone who will have to put Kansas back on the map in the college football landscape.
I only listed three coaches here, but there are a host of other young up-and-coming coaches that Long might consider. It will be important for the new athletic director to weigh the pros and cons to each.