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