THE MODERATOR: We’re now joined by Coach David Beaty from Kansas. Coach, welcome, and your thoughts about the upcoming season.
DAVID BEATY: Good morning. Excited to be back here in Dallas once again. Really especially impressed with the Ford Center here, new Cowboys facilities, and we’re going to get to enjoy these for the next couple days. Everything that Jerry Jones and the Cowboys do, it’s first class, it’s topnotch, and this is clearly no exception. So excited to be here with you today.
It’s a great time to be in the Big 12. It’s a great time to be at the University of Kansas. We’re really excited, like all the teams in the country, about this upcoming season, and we’re excited to see how our league continues to make an impact on the landscape of college football as we move forward this year.
Obviously, we weren’t satisfied last year with our record, but we’re extremely encouraged by the progress that our team has made. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but I love the energy and enthusiasm this team and our coaching staff shows.
We’ve added some new faces. We’ve added Doug Meacham to our staff. Extremely excited about him. He’s one of the best offensive minds in college football. Bringing him to Lawrence was an incredible addition to an already amazing group of coaches and men we have at our place.
I’m also really proud of our players and the way that they have developed over the last two to three years and the perseverance that they have developed along the way. This team knows that it has to earn everything that it gets. Nothing’s going to come easy in this league. It never does because it’s one of the finest leagues on the face of the planet. But these guys that we have, they’re committed to getting better every day.
As a result of that, we believe that Jayhawk football is headed in the right direction. I also believe that there’s really no better example of that than a young man like Dorance Armstrong, who’s here with us today, who you guys have named as a preseason recipient of the defensive Player of the Year. Now, Dorance works hard every day and has a never-quit mentality, and that’s really starting to pay off for him, and it’s fun to watch. He’s a kid that came into our place about 212 pounds. He’s 253 pounds today. Just really proud of his development, great example of those young guys who started with us two years ago.
But the best thing I think about Dorance is that that award doesn’t mean much to him. He knows that’s just written and that the real award is given at the end of the year. He cares a lot more about his teammates and about winning, and if you get to hear from him today, I know you’ll hear that come from his mouth. That’s what makes him great.
And we have a locker room full of those guys. I’ve said this a bunch publicly: The best thing about our team right now are the guys on it, and that’s what we’re excited about. Our goal is to develop young men of character and to make the fans of the University of Kansas proud, and I believe we’re well on our way to achieving that goal.
With that being said, let’s take some questions.
Q. David, good morning. Two things. For as tough a season as you guys had last year, you still had a massive win at the end of the year. How much did the Texas win sort of propel things into the off-season? And coupled with that, did you see a noticeable bounce in recruiting with all the Texas kids that you have? Did that play any role in the big $300 million renovation that’s coming? Despite the win-and-loss record, it seems like you guys had a big springboard into the off-season.
DAVID BEATY: Right. You know, the thing that I think was important about that game for us was that it was our first Big 12 win. Whether it was against Texas, TCU, all of these teams are phenomenal teams. It’s always a challenge to be able to win a game in this conference. But that one was big because it was the first one.
I do believe that it’s yet to be seen whether that can be a cornerstone in our program as we work to turn this thing around. It would be a shame for us to waste that opportunity. I hope that we can make it one of those cornerstones as we move forward.
I do think that you have to win to be able to attract top talent. I think you can build good facilities and you can do those things, but at the end of the day, I do believe that you’ve got to produce on the football field and you’ve got to win games. So that obviously helped us in a lot of ways, but we’ve got to put a lot more wins together for it to really affect us. And the thing about recruiting, as you guys all know, we’re not going to know for a number of years whether that recruiting was good or not.
That’s one of the cool things about this conference is that every game is big. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing. That was a great win, a lot of fun, but it was really only because it was the first one we had in the conference.
Q. I’m curious if you — sort of related to this question, I guess — but if you could compare sort of the momentum or push that your program has now compared to when you took over. Also, how big of a part of your job description — I know you’re the head coach, but how big of a part of your job is promotion and trying to get that push going?
DAVID BEATY: That’s a good question. The thing that I personally am really proud of right now is what I would call an upward trend at our place. I think that’s because of the consistency of the message that we have spoken from the day that we got there, that this is not about us. It never will be. It will be about the stakeholders, all of our fans that deserve so much better. We have remained consistent with that, and the way that we’re going to get it done is very simple. We’re going to earn it by working every single day. It’s a process, not an event.
Part of the biggest challenge is understanding they call it development because it doesn’t happen overnight. You have to develop. It’s taken us a while to get there, and we obviously now are very excited because all of our young-uns are three years into it and they’ve got some experience.
I do think that one of the things that a head coach, I believe, has to do is you do have to carry that flag for your program. I think it’s part of the job. It is. And creating that culture is really, really important, and then it’s up to individuals to decide whether that is something that they believe in or not. And the thing that I really have been proud of is that I love the way that our fan base has reacted to the development of our program. They are loyal, loving, terrific fans, the best on the face of the planet. I’m excited about bringing them a really good product here in the future.
Q. What did you like from Carter to end the season? And on the other side of that competition, what do you like from Peyton?
DAVID BEATY: Man, two really talented guys right now we’ve got vying for that quarterback spot. Carter finished the season for us last year. Watching his maturation was the thing that I really liked. Watching him really start taking the game seriously as he went into his sophomore campaign. Watching him grow — it’s always fun to watch a quarterback do that. But the thing I really like about him is the way that he reacts in games. Guys are drawn to him. He’s got some athleticism to him. He can extend plays, and he’s a tough dude. I think that’s the other thing that guys respect is a tough quarterback.
Peyton Bender, the guy we brought in from Itawamba Junior College out of Mississippi, the guy’s played in our system with Coach Leach up at Washington State , so his familiarity was instant when he walked in the door, which gave us a great opportunity to truly evaluate him because he already understood the concepts. The kid’s very talented. He’s got as nice of an arm as I’ve been around, unbelievably quick release, very smart guy.
Those two guys live together. They are really, really close friends, and it’s going to be a battle because both of them want to take that job. And the other thing that I talk to these guys all the time about is, if you just look at our league over the last two to three years, very few of us have been able to go through the entire schedule with just one guy playing the entire year. So for us, we feel very fortunate that we have two really capable guys right now at that place.
Q. Coach, so, again, just with the state of your program right now, what are the benchmarks that you guys judge your success on? And what are you looking to build season to season?
DAVID BEATY: Well, before we look at the benchmarks, we’ve got to figure out how we’re going to get there, and the benchmarks are not going to be any different really for us than they are for other programs. We want to win championships. We want to play in Bowl games. We want to produce productive men who are good for our society, and that is what is going to cause the by-product of championships.
We say it all the time. We talk to our kids daily about every day we need you to wake up and be the best man you can possibly be, from the time you wake up until the time you go to bed. And the by-product of that day is going to be something that you, we, our program can all be proud of, and it will be called production.
We’re doing the same things with our guys daily, that it’s a process. We’ve got to get wrapped up in that process. It’s a process, not an event. And our championship hopes and dreams are going to hinge on us continuing to understand that it will be a by-product of the work and what it means to be a good man every day because that really encompasses what it means to be committed to a program and doing the things necessary to win championships.
People want to talk about championships. Not a lot of people want to do what it takes to get one.
Q. You brought up Doug Meacham. How invaluable has that been for the program bringing in someone who has experience in the conference but also has instilled an explosive offense everywhere he’s been?
DAVID BEATY: I’ll tell you what, it’s been so comforting for a head coach to have a guy that, first of all, we share the same philosophies offensively. We’ve been in the same family of offenses, which is something that was very important to me. And then, secondly, to have a guy that you have as much respect for as anyone in the country for doing it the way he does it, and then watching him put his spin on this air raid offense has been so much fun.
This game of football, it’s tough on these guys, a day-to-day grind for these guys. It’s a lot more than what a lot of people know. It’s very difficult. I just believe you’ve got to have a little fun throughout that process. Doug has done such a great job of making sure that we have fun every day. He’s a guy that is infectious, and you just want to be around him. He’s one of those people. I love the fact that our kids want to be around him because it’s not always that you have coaches that they want to be around. They may be there, but they don’t want to be around him. They love being around Doug Meacham because he is so much fun and he’s really good at what he’s done.
His leadership over the last three years of what he was able to do with Coach Patterson and those guys at TCU, over 500 yards a game over three years, that’s good enough to be top five in the country. And did that instantaneously when he walked into the place. So really excited about Doug.
Q. David, how do you anticipate the offense looking under Coach Meacham?
DAVID BEATY: It’s going to be fun watching him put his personality into it. The concepts are all pretty similar, but like all of the guys who live in this offense, everyone has their own little personality and twist on it. It’s been fun watching him instill that. We’ve had some position moves. We’ve had guys move to new spots that I wouldn’t thought to do that. Ryan Schadler has moved to the receiver’s spot, and we really think he might be a really nice answer for us at that wideout spot. He’s done nothing but great things for us.
Doug has done so many things to really focus on the individual skill sets of each player, to really utilize them correctly. It’s been really fun to watch, and it’s been fun to really just kind of be around him and to just soak up the knowledge that he’s brought to the room.
Q. Hey, I’m curious if you could offer an assessment of how the defense developed over the course of the last season and also how valuable is Daniel Wise, just getting done what he does inside there?
DAVID BEATY: One of the things that, as we talk about last year, is we look at not only the things that we have to get better at — because as coaches, you’re always looking at what you have to get better at — but what did you do well? One of the major things that we improved on is our defensive side of the ball. Now, there are areas that we still have to focus on, but we went from worst to first in a few different categories.
Third down stops. Coach Bowen has done a phenomenal job with our defense. One of the best defensive minds I’ve been around in a long time. And for him to do last year with regard to statistically moving us up the ladder in tackles for a loss, sacks, pressure we’re putting on quarterbacks, pass defense — those things are things that I was really proud of for him.
One of the things that we’ve got to do is we’ve got to replace a couple of key guys that played a bunch of ball for us last year. We lost two corners, and we’ve got two guys that have come in from junior colleges, and we’ve got guys that are already on the roster. We feel like they’re all talented guys, but they haven’t played a lot of ball. That’s really the area that we really need to hit on as we work through this year. The leadership of Clint Bowen and what he did with regard to taking us from where we were defensively the first year to taking the same kids and developing them and taking them to where they were the second year is really a nice improvement.
Now, there’s a lot of areas we’ve got to get better at. Our scoring defense is not great. We can’t do a great job of stopping them on third down but then giving up a big play. But I watched our defense grow as the year went on, and then you talk specifically about a guy that nobody really talks about, that I’m super glad he’s on our team, is Daniel Wise. Daniel Wise is — he is a factor for us in a number of different spots. He can play inside. He can play outside. I’m not sure people talk about this guy enough, to be honest with you. He’s a very talented kid.
He’s got a couple of brothers that are playing college football. One of them left and went into the NFL draft from Arkansas. He’s from right here in Hebron, Hebron High School, right here down the road. He’s a very talented kid who makes a big difference for us. Excited to have him.
Q. David, when you hired Doug Meacham, I think that made a lot of headlines nationally. Can you give us your pitch to Doug to get him to Kansas? When you asked him and what you told him.
DAVID BEATY: She asked about the hiring of Doug Meacham. I think, to understand that, our relationship is it didn’t start with a phone call. Doug and I have been friends for a number of years. I’ve recruited against him. He actually recruited my school when I was a high school coach here locally. That’s where I first met him. Taught me a lot of ball. Spent a lot of time with him. Always wanted to work with the guy. Always wanted to work with him. So that relationship started a long time ago.
When I first got to Kansas, I called him ten times and offered him so — I told him, look, look, you can have all the money. I’ll hire everybody else for a dollar. You can have it all. What’s it going to take to get you here? Because I just think that much of him.
We obviously have been friends for a long time, and when that opportunity came to pass, it was basically our conversations that felt like it might be a match at this point.
And I know he feels good about the way that Kansas is trending upwards. That’s his words, not mine. I think we’re trending forward, something special that’s going on there. And him being added to that staff has done nothing but energize us at a time when I thought we carry a lot of energy, and he’s bringing even more, which is something I’m really excited about.