Beaty on shaky ground as KU fails on field, in stands

The Wichita Eagle (Sunday) - - Sports - BY JESSE NEWELL

David Beaty, from his first day as Kansas’ foot­ball coach, has re­peat­edly preached one mantra: “Earn it.”

He used the hash­tag in tweets and men­tioned it of­ten dur­ing news con­fer­ences. If KU’s play­ers were go­ing to re­gain re­spectabil­ity, they’d have to earn that right through hard work. And if the team hoped to rein­vig­o­rate a dis­in­ter­ested fan­base ... well, it would have to do that by show­ing re­sults on the field.

So if this is the end for the KU coach — if he is in­deed fired this week­end, as a few me­dia re­ports stated Satur­day — Beaty likely only had to look across the side­line for one of the main rea­sons.

More than half of the 15,543 an­nounced fans at KU’s 27-3 loss to Iowa State were wear­ing the op­pos­ing team’s col­ors. In short: Even af­ter an up­set win over TCU last week, KU had failed, in Beaty’s fourth year, to gen­er­ate ex­cite­ment among its sup­port­ers.

For a day, that stung badly, es­pe­cially for some­one like se­nior line­backer Joe Di­neen.

“I don’t feel as bad for my­self as I do for some of the fresh­men that are new to this and are like,

‘Where is ev­ery­body com­ing off a big win?’ Stuff like that,” Di­neen said. “It’s frus­trat­ing, be­cause it was a home game for Iowa State. Es­pe­cially the sec­ond half, it was a home game for Iowa State.”

Di­neen, a Lawrence na­tive whose par­ents both grad­u­ated from KU, made it a point in postgame in­ter­views to thank KU fans who did show up on a cool Novem­ber day.

That didn’t mean he was happy with what he saw when he first ran onto the field be­fore the game.

“A lot of empty seats,” Di­neen said, “and there was a lot of red and gold in there.”

Things only got worse in the sec­ond half, as af­ter KU fell be­hind 20-3, many of the Jay­hawks’ sup­port­ers left early.

“Times when we needed mo­men­tum shifts and stuff, it got real loud for them, and it wasn’t for us,” Di­neen said. “It is what it is, kind of. You get used to it. But that’s where it comes in that I feel bad for some of the younger guys that aren’t used to it yet.”

Re­cent so­cial me­dia posts seem to in­di­cate some un­der­ly­ing somber­ness. Last week, fresh­man cor­ner­back Co­ri­one Har­ris ref­er­enced a tweet that showed Ne­braska foot­ball fans fill­ing the sta­dium each game, say­ing, “This makes a dif­fer­ence” with a sad-face emoji. Then Fri­day night, fresh­man run­ning back Pooka Wil­liams made a plea for fans to show up on Twit­ter, say­ing, “Y’all come sup­port to­mor­row” with a fin­gers-crossed sym­bol.

“We haven’t talked about it or any­thing like that,” Di­neen said of speak­ing with the firstyear play­ers about home at­ten­dance. “Just ob­vi­ously me go­ing through, just see­ing from like my fresh­man year to now, just like to­ward the end of the sea­son, no one comes to the games any more. Which is just kind of sad.”

Even if KU play­ers wanted to ig­nore the re­al­ity, Di­neen said it was dif­fi­cult.

“We know Kansas fans are great. I know we’re bas­ket­ball and stuff like that, but it’s the same peo­ple,” Di­neen said. “It’s just frus­trat­ing. I know ob­vi­ously, if we were able to win more and stuff like that, they’d be more proud and be more apt to come, but com­ing off a big win ... it’s a lit­tle bit frus­trat­ing.”

And so, the at­ten­tion will turn to Beaty’s fu­ture. As of Satur­day night, The Star could con­firm there had been no an­nounce­ment to KU’s coach­ing staff about a po­ten­tial change.

Beaty, who fell to 6-39 in his fourth sea­son at KU, took much of the blame for KU’s of­fen­sive woes Satur­day. It was his third game as of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor fol­low­ing the mid­sea­son fir­ing of Doug Meacham.

“We weren’t able to put enough points on the board ... that falls squarely on me,” Beaty said. “That’s un­for­tu­nate for our team. I should have done a bet­ter job.”

Ath­letic di­rec­tor Jeff Long, who sat in the back cor­ner dur­ing the en­tirety of Beaty’s postgame press con­fer­ence, did not re­spond to a later re­quest for com­ment re­gard­ing his coach’s sta­tus.

KU, now 3-6 and 1-5 in the Big 12, has a winnable game at Kansas State next week.

At­ten­tion could shift away from that quickly, though, if Long de­cides to make his first ground­shak­ing move as KU Ath­let­ics’ top boss.

ORLIN WAG­NER AP

Kansas coach David Beaty ap­plauds his team dur­ing last week’s up­set of TCU, a win that didn’t seem to stir much ex­cite­ment in Lawrence.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.