The first time I read about the new Kansas offensive line coach (A.J. Ricker) being a Missouri graduate I didn’t believe it. To be more specific, I slapped myself in the face, slammed my head on the table, and washed my eyes out with freezing cold water, and then re-read the article. Much to my dismay, it was correct. David Beaty had officially hired a Mizzou Alum to oversee our biggest weakness, the offensive line.
I’ve tried to be positive since my well known dislike of David Beaty’s 3-33 record. I even decided I’m going to support the guy this year because 1.) as an avid KU football fan I don’t really have a choice and 2.) his recruiting class for 2018 doesn’t look too bad, even if it’s loaded with JUCO’s. But this, to me, is a huge slap in the face to the KU faithful.
We’re not just talking about some other team this guy graduated from. The Kansas and Missouri rivalry has gone down as one of the biggest rivalries in college sports. It’s like Batman firing Robin as his sidekick and hiring the Joker to replace him. What the hell, man!?
To be fair, our previous OL coach Zach Yenser wasn’t getting the job done. But he also wasn’t a graduate from the school KU fans hate most, Mizzou.
After I gained feeling back in my face and my eyes thawed out, I decided to do a little more digging and see if this guy is maybe some sort of offensive line genius. I mean, he has to be if Beaty is bringing him from the depths of hell into the wonderful City of Lawrence, KS.
First what I found out is he’s been the offensive line coach at three schools: Missouri, Western Michigan, and Illinois. From 2011-12 he coached offensive line and was the run game coordinator for Western Michigan, he then went on to coach the Illinois offensive line in 2013, and then later went back to his alma mater Missouri to coach the offensive line 2014-15. He left Missouri in 2016 after Gary Pinkel retired as he was not retained by the new coaching staff. Finally after leaving Missouri, he was hired as the Offensive Analyst for Oklahoma State which is where he was currently when Beaty hired him.
I then wanted to check some stats to see how well his offensive lines have held up. For the sake of not being over detailed I’m only going to focus on two stat categories: sacks allowed and total offense. Both of these stats will paint a somewhat clear picture of how well he’s done. Also, I will not be including his employment at Oklahoma State as that’s for a different position.
|Year||Team||Total Offense/Rank||Sacks Per Game/Rank|
|2011||Western Michigan||490.8/17th of 127||2.38/Tied 82nd of 127|
|2012||Western Michigan||439.2/38th of 127||1.67/48th of 127|
|2013||Illinois||280.4/126th of 129||3.5/125th of 129|
|2014||Missouri||365.0/93rd of 129||1.64/Tied 42nd of 129|
|2015||Missouri||268.5/125th of 129||2.50/85th of 129|
Overall, not that impressive. But sadly it’s still better than what KU has done. And one thing not mentioned in the stats is in 2012 Ricker led an offensive line at Western Michigan that was an All-MAC selection and was the program’s second two-time Rimington Trophy candidate. But that’s only one year and could have been led by a plethora of factors.
So what’s the final diagnosis on this hire?
I think I’m more confused than anything. He’s not a ‘big splash’ hire or really even a ‘good’ hire and he graduated from KU’s biggest rival. And if you really sit down and think about it from 2000 to 2003 he hated KU. How do you overcome that hate? I know I couldn’t or wouldn’t. If Mizzou offered me a job for triple what I make now and a job that’s easier than what I do, I’d still pass. Although it’d be fun to go in and screw things up while I was there just as a final ‘f-u’.
Regardless, I give this hire a D+. Overall he’s had some good moments and could very well bring something different to KU than what we’ve had in the past. But I’ll have to see how his relationships with his players develop and what kind of passion he can show for a school that he once hated.
At the end of the day, we’ll just have to wait and see…