48 hours with the winless Kansas Jayhawks

AUSTIN, Texas -- After another Kansas blowout loss, David Beaty is halfway through his postgame speech when he arrives at the truth of the night.

"There's no secret, men," Beaty says. "Listen, I don't have any magic words, and no man does. It's just about getting a little bit better every day. That's it."

These Jayhawks, well on their way to Big 12 infamy as the first 0-12 team in the conference's 20-year history, have little choice but to embrace simple ambitions. Kansas hasn't won a football game in a year. This season, the Jayhawks have lost to an FCS team and given up 55 or more points five times.

More imperative, though, is ensuring they don't give up.

ESPN.com went behind the scenes with Beaty and the Jayhawks for their road trip to Texas for an unvarnished look at how the Power 5's biggest uphill battle is being waged.

7:55 p.m. CT Friday: Arrival

The Jayhawks arrive at their hotel in Round Rock, Texas, in four buses and roll right into dinner and meetings. They're running two hours behind thanks to airport issues, but Beaty isn't stressed. In fact, he has burgers on his mind.

As soon as the Jayhawks touched down, a few players who hail from Texas started asking for a trip to Whataburger. Later that night, Beaty makes a promise: He'll send out a staffer to pick up 150 burgers Saturday night if KU can upset Texas.

"Shoot, if we win this game, I'll buy 'em a Whataburger restaurant," Beaty joked upon arriving.

But for now, the team dines on steak, grilled chicken, tilapia and pasta before separating for offensive and defensive meetings. Offensive coordinator Rob Likens and defensive coordinator Clint Bowen think they have the 3-5 Longhorns figured out.

Bowen talks fast and teaches precisely. Keep Texas quarterback Jerrod Heard in the pocket and make him prove he can complete intermediate passes. Linebackers must fit their gaps and stifle the run. Corners can't give up any deep balls. Everyone must keep their eyes on the target when Texas uses its fly sweep action.

Likens brings a different vibe. He cracks jokes, tells his guys they're "freaking crazy" and implores them repeatedly to be "tough bastards." The plans are no less sharp, but Likens keeps the room loose. And this week, he says, KU's offense is trying its shortest, easiest plan of the season. Just make it work.

"Have so much fun you can't freaking stand it," Likens said. "Go to bed with a smile on your face ready to get up and whip somebody's ass and have a good time, all right?"

9:05 p.m.: Bull Corn

Beaty holds a Friday night closed-door meeting with only his players and strength coach. Beaty borrowed the "Bull Corn" sessions from his high school days coaching under Joe Martin at Garland (Texas).

Every week, players get a chance to speak up. They talk about their personal lives and past troubles. They can call out a teammate or even a coach. Whatever they want.

It's all part of Beaty's mission to form a family inside his locker room.

"It's working," defensive end Ben Goodman said. "The record might not show it, but we're starting to build the little things."

Beaty starts this week's session by calling Goodman and the seniors up to the front of the room. He hates that they might not have much to show for their final season as Jayhawks.

His message: He wants the seniors to know how proud he is of the example they set as leaders. He admires their thankless efforts to help establish the rebuild's foundation.

"I love each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart," Beaty said. "We will never let you guys be forgotten."

Then he turns his attention to nickelback Chevy Graham. The junior lost his 14-year-old sister and an aunt last week. He still insisted on making the road trip. His teammates want to dedicate this game to his family.

"I love the way you love each other, men. I do," Beaty said. "Tomorrow, when things get a little tough, just pull that belt a little tighter knowing you've got the right dudes beside you."

Goodman has spoken up at a few Bull Corn meetings. He's the one who isn't afraid to call out peers. He was skeptical when the new head coach arrived in December. Even in the very first team meeting with players he barely knew, Beaty preached on and on about how much he loves them.

"I really didn't know if it was real at first," Goodman said. "But it's genuine."

Tackle Larry Mazyck also speaks before Beaty's parting words.

"You guys are some freaking studs, and you don't even know it. You are so close to having everything that we want and you don't even know it. But you're close."

The Jayhawks call it a night.

10:30 a.m. Saturday: Walkthrough

Inside a hotel ballroom, Kansas' offensive players and coaches -- about 40 people all together -- run through their calls and packages. Once Likens has gone through his entire play card, he asks everyone to take a seat against the wall.

"I want the room to know what they can expect out of you tonight," Likens said.

Offensive lineman Bryan Peters' answer: "I've only got four of these opportunities left. I'm going to make the best of every single play."

Likens keeps his eyes closed, nodding and smiling with each answer, and calls on another player.

Lineman D'Andre Banks: "I feel like every play, I've got to put 'em in the dirt, help 'em back up and tell 'em it's coming all night."

Tight end Kent Taylor: "Coach, they're gonna turn on the film and say, 'That's a badass white boy right there.'"

Likens tries this exercise once a year, always before a big game. With their verbal contracts issued, and Likens satisfied, Kansas is closer to game time.

4:15 p.m.: Mental check

After a pregame meal of steak, chicken, pasta, scrambled eggs and sides, it's almost time for the big show.

The Jayhawks gather one final time in their ballroom. Beaty speaks first but is merely the opening act. Each of Kansas' nine assistants gets to go up front and deliver a message.

Bowen goes over the game plan once more and reassures his defenders, "Don't ever forget: You guys are Big 12 football players." Co-defensive coordinator Kenny Perry unleashes a retelling of the Battle of Yorktown, from the Revolutionary War, that ends with profanities against both the Longhorns and the British. Linebackers coach Kevin Kane says he's hated Texas ever since losing to Vince Young in 2004.

Likens goes with his spin on a Friedrich Nietzsche proverb -- those who cannot hear the music think the dancers are insane -- and again heaps love on his guys for how "freaking crazy" they are. Zach Yenser goes calm and serious, telling his offensive line Kansas won't win a game until they get dominant.

The closer is KU's most-riled up assistant, special teams coach Gary Hyman. He runs back and forth through the aisle screaming gems such as, "STRAIGHT UP F---ING RAW-ASS EFFORT, BABY!" and "WE'LL SNATCH THIS B---- RIGHT OUT THEY F---ING JAW!" The man swears he doesn't drink caffeine, which is astonishing.

If the Jayhawks weren't already excited, they get a pump-up video with season highlights and quotes from motivational speaker Les Brown.

There's greatness in you, and you've got to learn how to tune out the critics outside and the critic inside.
I'm going to harness my will, and I'm not going to let anything stop me.
This is my day. I've decided I'm unstoppable.

With that, Kansas boards the team bus.

6:30 p.m.: Reality check

When Beaty takes the field at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, he walks to the 50-yard line to watch Texas warm up.

He's mostly checking personnel -- who's healthy, who's out -- but Beaty keeps his eyes on the Longhorns a few minutes. He recognizes countless four- and five-star kids he'd once recruited at Texas A&M.

As the Aggies' recruiting coordinator, Beaty was responsible for consecutive top-10 recruiting classes in 2013-14. At Kansas, he inherited an almost unreal numbers crisis.

Beaty doesn't want to make excuses. But the reality is this: Beaty has 67 scholarship players and 47 walk-ons. When he first arrived at KU, there were 40 players on scholarship. Everyone else has 85.

"Our numbers are equal to probably the worst sanctions in NCAA history without the death penalty," Beaty said.

It's as if he's trying to start up an expansion team, building at a turtle's pace in the Big 12 rat race. Beaty won't ever bring this up, but he must wonder: How many of the 67 could go line up with those Longhorns and actually fit right in?

Of the 70 players on this week's travel roster, 31 underclassmen, including 13 true freshmen. Thirty of the 70 came to KU as transfers, and 21 showed up as walk-ons.

Kansas' travel roster has only eight upperclassmen it signed out of high school. For the Texas game, only five were healthy.

Those upperclassmen have never won a road game. Kansas hasn't won outside Lawrence since Sept. 12, 2009, at UTEP. Beaty says he wants to end that streak "as bad as I want to breathe." Beaty doesn't complain. He knew what he signed up for at KU.

"Nobody cares that we have problems, and most people are happy we have them," Beaty said with a laugh.

6:59 p.m.: Pregame speech

Beaty is a man of many buzzwords.

The messaging has been consistent and reinforced. All of his unusual phrases have explicit demands and implicit goals.

"Near perfect" is about maintaining optimism; "Eight seconds of fury and reset" is about fighting a play at a time. His best concept might be "bend your knees." Players can't afford to waste the split-second standing up, then bending their knees at the snap.

"We can't make up for it if we're not," Beaty said. "We're just not athletic enough."

First comes the Lord's Prayer, and for the actual pregame speech, Beaty keeps it simple.

"Guys, here's the deal: You gotta get that energy going right now. When you get out there, you get everything honed in. Total concentration. Total focus so you can execute. Eight seconds of fury and reset.

"The smartest team is gonna win this f---ing game now. The smartest team in the country is gonna win this game tonight. Take care of your business.

"Hey, I love you boys. Let's come back with a victory tonight."

The Jayhawks think they're ready.

10:18 p.m.: Timeout

Kansas trails Texas 52-14 with nine minutes to go and is about to give up another score when Beaty calls a timeout. He sees something he can't tolerate. He can tell his Jayhawks are ready to give up. Beaty lights into them.

"Listen, we don't do that," Beaty tells the players. "I don't know what the hell is going on with you boys right now, but tired won't be an excuse. You've got a timeout now. You're gonna bow your neck and we're gonna stop these fools. They're gonna run the football at you. You're gonna hold your gap and play your ass off."

On the next play, Texas runs right at them. KU linebacker Courtney Arnick forces a fumble. Mission accomplished. Even in a blowout, Beaty needs these breakthroughs.

"The No. 1 thing we had to do when we got in here was teach these guys how not to quit," Beaty said. "Why is it worth it to keep playing? We work feverishly to make them understand you never quit."

Unfortunately, the play isn't over. Two Kansas defenders are in the vicinity and miss the ball. Texas' Tyrone Swoopes scoops it up and dives in for the touchdown.

Said Beaty: "That's kind of how the rest of the game went."

7:50 p.m. Sunday: Aftermath

Now back in Lawrence, Beaty knows Kansas should've been ahead at halftime. After a long day of film review and staff meetings, he is frustrated.

A false start on fourth down to kill KU's first offensive drive. A turnover on a punt return. A failed fourth down on a goal-line fumble. A missed 26-yard field goal. A defensive bust becoming a 93-yard Texas touchdown run.

Kansas is not nearly good enough to survive those miscues. And yet Beaty, hopeful as ever, can still find silver linings. At least most of the Jayhawks' wounds were self-inflicted.

"As bad as we are right now from a results standpoint at 0-9, that's why we as coaches come back and choose to be encouraged instead of moaning and groaning," he said. "We're human, though. This morning was hard. Last night was hard. It was heavy all day on all of us."

Winning in 2015 was an impossible mission, but there's no sense in judging success at KU by wins and losses right now. Far too much must first be fixed. Beaty wholeheartedly believes Kansas can someday win championships. He's trying to get there by building the right way, not the easy way.

"You have one shot to set the culture here. One chance. It's as important as anything," he said. "Regardless of what our record was going to be this year, that is so important."

Another Beaty-ism he repeated throughout the weekend: You can only eat an elephant one bite at a time.

The Jayhawks are still learning how to bite. In time, they'll catch up. In time, the beasts won't look so big.

As he stares at his dejected players in the locker room Saturday night, Beaty returns to his simple ambitions.

"Hey, listen: The sun's gonna come up tomorrow," he said, "and we're gonna get a little bit better."