FRISCO, Texas — It took a few years, but David Beaty finally got his man.
Just don’t blame the Kansas football coach for lack of trying the first time around.
Beaty and the Jayhawks hired offensive coordinator Doug Meacham this offseason, taking him from TCU, where Meacham’s offenses averaged 519.7 yards during his three seasons with the Horned Frogs.
Hearing Beaty describe the hiring during his Big 12 football media days news conference Monday at Ford Center, the KU coach noted he was practically beating down Meacham’s door to accept a role on his coaching staff when Beaty was hired in December 2014.
“When I first got to Kansas, I called him 10 times and offered him (a position),” Beaty said. “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.”
While enticing, that tongue-in-cheek offer was not enough to bring in Meacham, who built quite the portfolio with the Horned Frogs:
- In 2014, Meacham and co-offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie guided the most significant year-to-year increase in points per game (plus-21.4) of any program in Big 12 history. It was the largest scoring leap of any college team since Northwestern (1999-00).
- That season finished with Meacham as a finalist for the Broyles Award, given annually to the nation’s top assistant coach. TCU was also the nation’s most improved team in total yards at plus-188.2, helping the Horned Frogs win their first Big 12 championship and first Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.
- Meacham oversaw the development of Heisman candidate Trevone Boykin, who threw for 7,476 yards, 64 touchdowns and 20 interceptions — and rushed for 1,319 yards and 17 touchdowns — in his final two seasons in Fort Worth.
When Beaty finally landed Meacham, the move made national waves. It’s worth noting, though, that the partnership between the two dates back more than a decade with origins deep in the heart of Texas.
“It didn’t start with a phone call,” Beaty said. “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.”
Beaty called the Meacham acquisition an “incredible addition” and called him “one of the best offensive minds in college football.”
“Him being added to that staff has done nothing but energize us at a time when I thought we carry a lot of energy,” Beaty said. “And he’s bringing even more, which is something I’m really excited about.”
The two have been in the same family of “Air Raid” offenses over the years. That was an important factor in Meacham’s hiring, said Beaty, who in bringing on Meacham relinquished play-calling duties.
Even before calling his own first play, Meacham’s presence alone has created a more positive atmosphere around the football complex, Beaty said.
“The game of football, it’s tough on these guys, a day-to-day grind,” Beaty said. “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 a great job making sure we have fun every day. He’s a guy that is infectious, and you just want to be around him.
“It’s not always that you have coaches that (players) 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.”
At least one player, sophomore running back Khalil Herbert, agrees with that sentiment.
“First impression is, he’s definitely crazy,” Herbert told The Topeka Capital-Journal last week. “He brings this kind of juice and swagger to practice I think that we needed. You’ll be sore or tired or something like that, thinking, ‘Man, I don’t want to practice today,’ and coach Meacham will come through and pick you up and do some things that really make you want to practice for him.”
“He wears tights to practice ‘cause he runs around so much,” Herbert said with a laugh. “He screams a lot, he’s really loud and he cracks jokes a lot.”
QB RACE UPDATE — The two-man competition for the starting quarterback job “is going to be a battle,” Beaty expects.
The competition has narrowed to a race between sophomore Carter Stanley, who finished last season in the starting role and led the Jayhawks to an upset victory over Texas, and junior Peyton Bender, who transferred to KU after throwing for 2,733 yards and 21 touchdowns last year for Itawamba Community College.
Beaty offered no insight into any early front-runner but issued praise for both candidates.
Of Stanley, Beaty said: “The thing I really like about him is the way 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.”
Of Bender, Beaty said: “The kid’s very talented. He’s got as nice an arm as I’ve been around, unbelievably quick release, very smart guy.”
The two quarterbacks live together and are “very, very close friends,” said Beaty, who added the player who ends up on the short end of the competition shouldn’t necessarily be discouraged.
“If you just look at our league over the last two or three years, very few of us have been able to go through the entire schedule with just one guy playing the entire year,” said Beaty, who started three different quarterbacks last season. “So for us, we feel very fortunate that we have two really capable guys right now at that place.”
BEATY MUM ON BORDER COLD WAR — Asked about last month’s kerfuffle between former Missouri chancellor R. Bowen Loftin and Bill Self — Loftin accused Self of having a “huge ego” and once vetoing a series renewal between the two football programs at Arrowhead Stadium, and Self issued a playful response pointing out he coaches men’s basketball, not football — Beaty steered clear.
“I really don’t have any thoughts,” Beaty said. “The position with that situation is a university position. It is a department decision that I have no control over.”
Beaty briefly paused, then continued.
“You’ve got no chance of me saying anything on that,” he said with a laugh.