LAWRENCE — David Beaty wasn’t comfortable Tuesday outlining the qualities and attributes he feels his eventual successor as Kansas football head coach should possess.
He is, however, certain of one thing.
“Whoever it is,” Beaty said, “they’re going to be damn lucky.”
Beaty and the program will part ways at the end of the season, the result of first-year athletic director Jeff Long’s evaluation that there isn’t a path forward in the Big 12 under the program’s current leadership. The fourth-year coach’s somewhat awkward farewell tour continues at 6:30 p.m. Saturday when the Jayhawks (3-7, 1-6 Big 12) take on No. 6-ranked Oklahoma (9-1, 6-1) on national TV.
“This is a great place — not a good, but a great place,” Beaty said of KU, where he was also a two-year wide receivers coach from 2008-09. “Terrific folks that work here. Terrific people in our state. Great fans that deserve better, and a ton of great kids. ... I think their leadership is in good hands. So whoever gets the job is going to be a very lucky, a very lucky individual.”
Beaty’s passion for KU is undeniable — he’s broken down multiple times in public in recent weeks, whether it’s come at news conferences or during his weekly radio show. Those emotional displays have come most often when he’s talked about his players, whom he continues to call the best aspect of the program.
While he said he hasn’t contemplated how he expects to be remembered 10, 15, 20 years down the road, Beaty did acknowledge the most important product of his tenure are the quality young men he says it has molded since his arrival.
“There were some pretty special guys that have overcome and really kind of faced a lot of adversity,” Beaty said. “They’ve faced a lot of things that maybe might be fairly rare in our game. For them to be as resilient as they are, I think those are traits that great leaders possess, and people that do great things, they possess that, right? So I think that’s where I’ll look back and go, hey, man, I think we made a difference there, which is good.”
While Beaty wasn’t willing to discuss what he’d like to see out of whomever inherits his team, several players within the program did.
"First of all, I think to any coach out there that's on the edge maybe of coming here, I really don't think KU is far away,” said fifth-year senior linebacker, team captain and Lawrence native Joe Dineen. “I mean I think the guys that are here work hard and they want to be good, and there's a lot of young talent that has gotten Big 12 experience that in turn really does help win ball games. But I just think he needs, obviously, patience, and then, you know, I don't know.
“Honestly, I think coach Beaty had the right [qualities] — I mean I really do — it's unfortunate that what happened, happened, but I really think that the qualities that he possessed are the qualities that a good head coach needs. Really my message would just be that KU is not that far away from being really competitive and winning some football games."
Running back Khalil Herbert, who will be a senior next season, said he hopes the program hires a “players’ coach,” a term often used to describe Beaty.
"(Someone) always looking out for us, trying to do what's best for us,” Herbert said. “So, you know. (Beaty) really loved us, you know? Just a players’ coach really, that's there for the players and all in. He's done a lot for this university and he's just invested so much in us. Just somebody that wants to invest in is."
Back to Beaty, who said he hasn’t allowed himself to think about what he’ll miss most about KU.
“All I care is that this place continues to go up, because there was a lot of work that was done here,” Beaty said. “Hopefully some, if not all of it is appreciated. But it doesn’t matter whether it is (appreciated) or not. It matters with KU going forward.”
No potential replacements have contacted Beaty since his Nov. 4 firing to inquire about the KU opening, he said, nor have any reached out to gauge his interest in a potential position on another team for the 2019 campaign. Beaty said he hasn’t given much thought to whether he wants to immediately rejoin a sideline — “I’ll tell you this: I’m not smart enough to do (anything else), or I don’t have any other particular set of skills that I could use, so coaching football is probably the best thing for me when it comes to that,” Beaty said.
Still, there are two other parts of the equation: You have to be wanted, Beaty said, and it has to be the right fit.
“We’re not going to focus on anything about that until after the season’s over, but I can’t see myself just sitting around," Beaty said. "I mean, you guys see how ADD I am. I don’t know how in the world I could do that. My wife would probably leave me pretty quickly, I would imagine.”