Kansas Athletic Director Jeff Long spoke to the media on Sunday night to address the news that head football coach David Beaty had been fired.
The opening of the presser was pretty much what you’d expect. He thanked Beaty for his time and dedication to the university and how the timing just seemed right for them to make the announcement.
But what Jeff Long said during the Q&A portion should have Jayhawk fans feeling confident that they have the right man leading them in the search for a coach to “break the cycle.”
After meeting with Coach Beaty, I met with the @KU_Football Team to inform them of the decision. I explained the Head Coach qualities that would be the foundation of our search, the vision for our future, and reinforced the commitment to Breaking the Cycle! Our search starts now!
— Jeff Long (@jefflongKU) November 4, 2018
Here are some of the things that Long touched on during the press conference:
Investing in the program
What he said: Long spoke repeatedly about the need to invest financially in the coach, assistants, staff, and the program as a whole. Long also stated that the message had changed on the fundraising trail to reflect the message that investments need to be made in the program first, the stadium second.
Why it matters: For a turnaround of this magnitude, it’s going to take a proven head coach with a experienced staff to do it. You’re not going to get a coach of that stature by making him the 9th highest paid coach in the league like Beaty is now. And with no proven head coach, you’re not likely to get proven assistants.
Long understands the need to fork up to get a good coach this time around. He also understands the need to put the cart (the program) before the horse (the stadium).
What he said: Long stated that his goals for the program are to compete for bowl games on a regular basis and be competitive long-term in the Big 12.
Why it matters: That is a very reasonable and obtainable expectation to have at the University of Kansas. Basketball is king and always will be, but to eventually get to six or seven wins each year and just be competitive against divisional opponents? That’s achievable and sets the bar at a fairly low height for the new coach and his staff – unlike the high expectations that comes with many other Power 5 conference head coaching jobs – and Long could use that as a selling pitch to prospective coaches.
What he said: When asked if he had a timeline to hire a new coach, Long said he didn’t have one but that he’d like to hire one “sooner rather than later” and that it will be important to make the hire “shortly after the season, if not before.”
Why it matters: In order to get a jump on the early signing period on Dec. 19 and to get a jump on other schools looking to hire a new head coach, it’s important that KU make a hire as soon as possible. That’s not to say that they shouldn’t do their due diligence, but a lot more attractive jobs are going to become available as the season dwindles and Long realizes that they need to have a coach in place before they fall further down the pecking order. And having that coach in place will allow them to start recruiting for 2019.
Getting a proven head coach at the college level
What he said: “These jobs are too big to learn on the job and I’d like to be able to attract someone who’s been a head coach.” And when asked if he would look to the NFL he said that it would be very difficult to hire someone from the NFL with little to no recruiting experience and all but refused the idea.
Why it matters: Again, with a turnaround of this size and all that entails, it’s going to take someone who has a track record of building a program and recruiting the right way. Both David Beaty and Charlie Weis had no experience doing that and failed at trying to.
Even the biggest coordinator names in the country likely wouldn’t be able to handle turning around this program given its current state. It’d be different if they were taking over an established or somewhat-established program but this is far from that. A proven college head coach with the ability to hire a top-notch staff, recruit, and develop players is the only way to revive this sinking ship.
Long speaks as a man who’s confident in his abilities because he’s been in the position before. The task doesn’t seem too big for him and Kansas fans should have confidence that their proven athletic director will find a proven head coach to lead this team and break the cycle of bad coaching and bad football.