Kansas football quarterback Jason Bean has become one of the best stories in college football while filling in for Jalon Daniels.
Fresh off a successful 2-point conversion by Arkansas, the Kansas Jayhawks needed to answer with one of their own in the third overtime of the 2022 Liberty Bowl. The score was 55-53, and Jalon Daniels had been riding high with an incredible 544-yard, five passing touchdown outing.
It was KU’s first bowl appearance in 15 years, and they had an opportunity to finish an up-and-down 2022 season above .500 with a postseason victory.
Rather than sticking with what was working, offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki called a trick play in which Daniels would pitch it to his backup, Jason Bean, and roll out to the right side. He had only thrown one pass all game and was likely a bit cold on the sidelines, but the staff went with that playcall anyway.
As he scrambled to his right, it appeared that he had tight end Mason Fairchild wide open across from him. What ensued, though, will haunt the minds of Kansas football fans forever. He airmailed the throw into the stands with nobody even in the vicinity of his pass, effectively ending KU’s season.
2022 was a tale of twists and turns for Bean. He nearly led the Jayhawks to a victory on ESPN’s College GameDay over TCU when Jalon Daniels had to exit the game due to a shoulder injury. Bean was also the starter when Kansas clinched bowl eligibility for the first time in 14 years against No. 18 Oklahoma State. That was his only victory as a starter, though, and when Daniels went down, so did the team’s morale and success.
Bean could have transferred out of the university, never showing his face in the city of Lawrence again and playing elsewhere as a sixth-year senior. He’s certainly good enough to start at several other Power 5 programs, and he would be the sure-fire backup to Daniels following his breakout season.
Instead, he stuck it out with Lance Leipold for his final year of eligibility and established himself as one of the best stories in college football.
In five starts this year, Jason Bean has rewrote the narrative of his career as a Kansas Jayhawk. Has he been perfect? No. But he has thrown for 1,131 yards, nine touchdowns, and four interceptions, leading Kansas to a 3-2 record as the team’s primary signal caller.
The North Texas transfer recently led Kansas to one of its biggest victories in school history. The Jayhawks got the better of No. 6 Oklahoma this past Saturday in a thriller that included an hour-long weather delay and seven lead changes.
Scoring 38 points against the best defense in the Big 12 would suggest that the offense was firing on all cylinders, yet that was far from the case. Bean had his worst performance of the year, completing just 15-of-32 pass attempts and throwing two untimely interceptions in the latter stages of the game.
He nearly lost the game for Kansas single-handedly. But in the end, he stepped up when it mattered most.
With just two minutes remaining in the contest and the team trailing 33-32, hopes were slim for a KU offense that had been ineffective that whole quarter. After an incompletion and a pair of two-yard runs, Kansas football needed to convert a 4th-and-6 despite being one of the worst fourth-down offenses in the country. That didn’t seem to matter to Bean, though, who threw a 37-yard completion to WR1 Lawrence Arnold, setting up the go-ahead touchdown by Devin Neal with less than one minute remaining.
Thanks to some stingy defense and a game-winning drive led by Bean, Kansas is now ranked No. 21 in the nation in their first-ever appearance in the CFB Playoff rankings. They are looking at a potential double-digit win season for the fourth time ever.
There are still times when Bean frustrates the Jayhawk fanbase. He often avoids contact from opposing defenders and misses on routine throws. But in a year where Jalon Daniels has fought through a back injury for the better part of three months, Bean is the only reason Kansas football is where they are right now.