Coaching football at Kansas in the shadows of hoops inventor James Naismith, Adolph Rupp, Bill Self, and Bill Snyder over at KSU is like Cooper Manning telling everyone at a Manning family dinner about his day. Charlie Weis is in an even more difficult position cleaning up the mess left behind in the aftermath of Mark Mangino’s rocky exit and the crater in their talent department after Turner Gill's catastrophic two year tenure.
The simple truth is that Weis needs better players at Kansas. There are no Andrew Wiggins’ migrating to Lawrence, Kansas for football and in his first season as head coach of the Jayhawks, they went 1-11.
During his Big 12 Media Day press conference, Weis kept it real about how he sells his program to prospects. Weis blames the talent for his disastrous first season and he has a pretty good point, but he probably should have kept it confidential.
Via The Kansas City Star:
“Everyone wants to play,” Weis said. “There’s no one that wants to not play. I said, ‘Have you looked at that pile of crap out there? Have you taken a look at that?’ So if you don’t think you can play here, where do you think you can play? It’s a pretty simple approach. And that’s not a sales pitch. That’s practical. You’ve seen it, right? Unfortunately, so have I.”
Kansas may need more than just better players. An improvement on the sideline would help. Most coaches pitch to recruits by bolstering their own credentials or attacking other programs, but in Weis’ mind, nothing breeds locker room camaraderie like your coach bad-mouthing you all over the country.
It’s even more galling when you consider Weis’ hypocritical reaction to the University of Kansas’ school newspaper criticizing his program.
Team slammed by our own school newspaper. Amazing! No problem with opponents paper or local media. You deserve what you get! But, not home!— Coach Charlie Weis (@CoachWeisKansas) October 4, 2012
I personally could care less. You are what are. On the other hand, if I don't support the players good or bad, who will??— Coach Charlie Weis (@CoachWeisKansas) October 4, 2012
Objective young journalists have some nerve. Even in his personal life, Weis is quick to deflect reponsibility.
Weis is used to riding on the backs of superior talent not developing it. As the Patriots offensive coordinator, Tom Brady stumbled into his lineup and a trio of Super Bowl rings followed. Weis parlayed that stroke of luck into the most prestigious job in college football. After a BCS berth with Brady Quinn at the helm of his offense, things snowballed from there. At Notre Dame, heralded phenom Jimmy Clausen vowed not to get Weis fired. After Weis went 16-21 over his final three years, that’s exactly what Notre Dame did.
The Jayhawks are a far cry from the Fighting Irish, and gaining ground in the Big 12 will be an uphill battle. But it can be done. Before he was fired due to anger management issues, Mangino's Kansas squad won the 2008 Orange Bowl en route to a 12-1 regular season record. That year, Mangino was awarded almost every Coach of the Year award known to man because he was a pretty good coach.
Diminutive quarterback Todd Reesing also had one of the great seasons in school history. Quarterback play has dipped like the final round of an island limbo competition since Reesing's graduation in 2009.
The hope is that BYU transfer Jake Heaps is the savior for Weis’ job that Jimmy Clausen wasn’t. I wouldn’t bet on it, though.
Weis hooked top-five recruiting classes at Notre Dame, but his teams got progressively worse from year to year. The problem was Weis’ system and his roster’s development of athletes on the defensive end. His successor, Brian Kelly was more successful with Weis’ players. Three-quarters of Weis' 2013 recruiting haul is composed of JUCO players, so they’re closer to the finished product than the 18-year-old student-athletes Weis is used to pursuing.
Weis probably needs to look inwards. I’m not sure he’s cut out to be a successful college coach. Some cats are cut out for coordinator positions. Weis has been on track to become an NFL head coach numerous times. However, his inclination for retreating to the collegiate level with his championship résumé is the antithesis of most coaching career arcs. Maybe Weis should concentrate on returning to the NFL ranks where he last had success with Kansas City. The university is doing everything it can to lure recruits to Kansas by incorporating a slew of colorful helmet and uni designs into their gridiron wardrobe, but a new coach may be a wiser investment.