LAWRENCE (AP) — After striking out on a rising star and a well-known coach with an NFL pedigree, Kansas turned to one of its own to resurrect a program that has languished near the bottom of the Big 12.
The school announced Friday that it had hired Texas A&M assistant David Beaty to be its third coach in five years. Beaty spent time at Kansas on the successful staff of Mark Mangino and failed staff of Turner Gill, giving him unique insight into the program’s peaks and valleys.
“My family and I are honored and humbled to be back here,” said Beaty, who was introduced to the crowd during halftime of the Jayhawks’ basketball game against Florida on Friday night.
“I won’t sleep until I give you something to be proud of at Memorial Stadium,” he said.
Beaty emerged from a cluster of candidates that all had ties to the program, including Clint Bowen, the longtime defensive coordinator who served as interim coach when Charlie Weis fired.
Beaty said that Bowen, a Lawrence native and Kansas alum, has agreed to remain on staff.
“I am very excited to be back at Kansas,” Beaty said. “I am especially excited that Clint Bowen has agreed to stay on as assistant head coach and defensive coordinator. Clint will be a huge part of our success going forward and I am fortunate to have him on my staff.”
Beaty, who had been interviewed over the phone, arrived on campus for a more formal interview and tour of the facilities Friday. The school planned a news conference for Monday.
“David Beaty is well-respected in the football community and brings to KU great vision, passion and energy,” Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger said in a statement. “He has a bright football mind and is known as one of the best recruiters in the nation.”
Beaty will certainly have plenty of work to do. The Jayhawks won just three games this season and one Big 12 game, and have been firmly in the league cellar since Mangino was fired in 2009 amid accusations that he mistreated players. Kansas has not had a winning season since 2008.
A longtime high school coach in Texas, Beaty primarily worked with wide receivers for Mangino, and returned to Rice after that staff was let go. Beaty came back to Kansas as part of Gill’s staff in 2011, and then bolted to Texas A&M when Gill — considered a rising star for his work at Buffalo when he was hired by the Jayhawks — was let go after a 2-10 season.
Weis won just six games over two-plus seasons before he was fired four games into this year, and Bowen coached the Jayhawks to a win over Iowa State as interim coach.
Meanwhile, Beaty helped to coach record-setting offenses at Texas A&M while burnishing his reputation as one of the nation’s best recruiters. The Aggies have had produced some of the best classes in the nation while he has been on the staff in College Station.
“Coach Beaty is one of the most genuine people I’ve ever known,” said former Aggies wide receiver Mike Evans, now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. “On the field, he’s a great coach with a lot of energy and he’s fun to be around. He will always push you to be your best.”
Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin praised Beaty as “a great recruiter, a great coach and a great man” in a statement that accompanied his hiring Friday.
“He was one of the first people I hired at Texas A&M and he’s been a huge part of what we’ve been able to accomplish here,” Sumlin said. “He’s earned this opportunity to be a head coach, and I believe he will do a tremendous job with the Jayhawks.”
Despite a few good stretches under Glen Mason in the 1990s and Mangino in the 2000s, Kansas football has generally been overshadowed by its powerhouse basketball program. Fan support has been lukewarm most years, and only about 15,000 fans watched the Jayhawks’ home finale this season.
Kansas also has some of the worst facilities in the Big 12, even after the construction of the Anderson Family Football Complex. Memorial Stadium is aging and there is no proper indoor practice facility on campus, making it difficult to work outside in bad weather.
Zenger has said that he would like to renovate to the football stadium, but it has been difficult to raise money for a losing program. That means hiring a coach who can not only produce results on the field but also energize the fan base is of paramount importance.
“Coach Beaty is a players’ coach, but he knows when to be serious,” former Kansas wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe said. “He is not afraid to put his foot down and tell you what you are doing wrong. He won’t let you sit around and be mediocre. He wants greatness from you.”
Now, the Jayhawks expect the same from him.