David Beaty clutched a microphone and stepped onto the court of Allen Fieldhouse on Friday night. It was halftime of Kansas’ anticipated basketball matchup with Florida, and KU’s new football coach planned on keeping things short and sweet.
He praised the Jayhawks’ fans, he talked about the community, he called Kansas the best university in the country. He talked for just more than a minutes, but he wanted to add one more thing:
“I won’t sleep,” Beaty said, “until we give you something to be proud of.”
Can Kansas football ever win again? That monumental task now belongs to Beaty, the Texas A&M’s receivers coach and recruiting coordinator who was officially hired Friday evening.
Beaty’s hiring was expected after he arrived in Lawrence on Friday morning and spent the rest of the afternoon with Kansas officials.
In a release before the game, Beaty (pronounced BAIT-ee) announced that interim coach Clint Bowen, who also was a candidate for the job, would remain on the Jayhawks’ staff as his assistant head coach and defensive coordinator.
“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.”
The announcement capped a busy day for Beaty, who in the last 24 hours emerged as KU’s top candidate. He becomes the program’s third head coach since former coach Mark Mangino was forced out following the 2009 season. Turner Gill failed, going 5-19 in two seasons. Charlie Weis flopped to a 6-22 record in parts of three seasons. Now Beaty will take the reins.
Beaty, who made $350,000 a year at A&M, will be paid substantially less than Weis, who was paid $2.5 million annually and will continue to receive that salary from KU through 2016.
Kansas officials said late Friday that Beaty’s contract, which is believed to be incentive-laden, was still being finalized. Beaty’s contract could allow KU to pay more for its assistants, including a raise for Bowen, who averaged close to $300,000 in annual salary the last two seasons.
On Friday, Beaty stepped off a plane at just past 11:40 a.m. at Lawrence Municipal Airport. Joined by his wife, Raynee, Beaty greeted Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger on a rainy morning and climbed into a black SUV that had pulled up alongside the plane.
Zenger and Beaty headed for the Anderson Family Football Complex on KU’s campus, where they sat down and discussed the future of the program — a future they both hope is better than the lost years that preceded it. Three years after bringing Weis to Lawrence, a quick-fix gamble that ultimately blew up, Zenger is investing in youth and charisma, hiring a 44-year-old who rose from the ranks of Texas high school football to become one of the most respected recruiters in the country.
“David Beaty is well-respected in the football community and brings to KU great vision, passion and energy,” Zenger said in the release. “He has a bright football mind and is known as one of the best recruiters in the nation.”
Beaty has never been a head coach on the college level. He’s only served as an offensive coordinator twice, for one season at Rice in 2010 and as a co-offensive coordinator under Gill at Kansas in 2011. But now Beaty will try to do something that couldn’t be accomplished by his two predecessors.
“David is a great recruiter, a great coach and a great man,” Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said. “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. He’s earned this opportunity to be a head coach, and I believe he will do a tremendous job with the Jayhawks.”
Before Friday morning, Kansas’ search had focused on assistant coaches with ties to the Mark Mangino era. Former Kansas assistant Ed Warinner spoke to Zenger and the search committee about the position, while Bowen, KU’s defensive coordinator who replaced Weis in late September, also was interested.
The process was expected to conclude early next week, but Beaty apparently impressed Zenger and the committee enough to speed up the process.
Beaty worked two previous stints at Kansas as an assistant, first as receivers coach for Mark Mangino in 2008-09. A former high school coach in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, Beaty staked his early reputation on being a sterling recruiter with deep connections in Texas high school football.
His roots in Texas, in part, made him an appealing candidate for Kansas, which has traditionally used the Lone Star State as its prime recruiting territory. Among Beaty’s recruiting coups: He was responsible for bringing standout running back James Sims to Kansas. A native of Irving, Texas, Sims referred to Beaty as a “father figure” while racking up two 1,000-yard rushing seasons.
“He could just relate to the players,” said former KU receiver Daymond Patterson, who played at Kansas from 2008-12. “He knew the Metroplex area, so he understood where guys came from.”
A native of Garland, Texas, Beaty played college football at Lindenwood in St. Louis. But before Beaty began his college coaching career as a receivers coach for Todd Graham at Rice in 2006, he was known as a young innovator in Texas high school football.
“He was always a people person,” said Brian Basil, the head coach at Irving McArthur High School, where Beaty served as head coach from 2002-05. “But it was never an act. That’s just who he is.”
In those early days, Basil says, Beaty was the type of coach that wanted to soak up knowledge wherever he could find it. One year, he traveled to West Virginia to study Rich Rodriguez’s spread system. Other years, he’d find himself borrowing ideas from Todd Dodge, the former coach at Southlake Carroll High School and one of the godfathers of the spread offense. And for the last three years, Beaty has been at Texas A&M, studying under coach Kevin Sumlin, the coach who took the SEC by storm with his Air Raid Offense.
“He was always looking for little things here and there,” Basil said. “He’s a people person, but he could really coach, too.”