Every day Charlie Weis spends on the job, Kansas University athletic director Sheahon Zenger looks smarter for gambling that a football coach with such a high profile would be eager to get into grinder mode to embrace the challenge of upgrading a football program that finished two games out of ninth place in a 10-team conference.
Since taking the job, Weis has kept busy juggling three balls:
Assembling a staff that will aid him as he performs the duties of head coach and offensive coordinator.
Deciding which players don’t fit and letting them know they won’t play if they stay.
Hitting the road for new recruits. He already has been doing so aggressively, even paying a visit to TCU commitment Tyler Matthews of McPherson, the state’s top quarterback prospect (Matthews remains committed to the Horned Frogs).
Zenger also looks smart for the timing of getting Weis signed and the details of the contract.
Weis needed the full five years of the contract guaranteed and a $2.5 million annual salary, plus incentives, for the deal to appeal to him. Zenger needed protection against NFL teams — think: Kansas City Chiefs — from stealing his coach. He got that in the form of a buyout that stipulates KU must be paid $2.5 million for releasing Weis in the first four years of the deal, $1.5 million in the final year. That clause also removes any doubt recruits might have had about how long Weis plans to remain KU’s football coach.
Such a contract is called a compromise. Are you listening, Washington?
Had Zenger delayed in identifying Weis or had Chiefs coach Todd Haley’s final straw — a blowout loss to the New York Jets that featured a Haley meltdown so intense that he drew a rare unsportsmanlike conduct penalty — happened a week earlier, Weis might have wanted to look at the Chiefs’ job. We’ll never know. This much we do know: Weis, so far, has been a tireless recruiter, because he knows that’s necessary to upgrade the talent.
In the past few days, Weis has made trips to South Bend, Ind., McPherson and both sides of Kansas City.
While in South Bend, Weis visited, among others, Notre Dame transfer Dayne Crist, who was in attendance in Allen Fieldhouse for KU’s victory against Ohio State. Crist, a pro-style quarterback who has one year remaining and is eligible immediately, also visited Delaware and was scheduled to take a two-day trip set to conclude today to visit with the Wisconsin coaches. Rivals reported that Jake Heaps, who started 15 games at Brigham Young, is on Weis’ radar as well.
A national name, Weis will recruit nationally, as he did at Notre Dame. So far, the only assistant coach retained from Liberty University football coach Turner Gill’s staff has been running backs coach/recruiting coordinator Reggie Mitchell, who likely will surrender the latter half of his title to Rob Ianello, former Notre Dame recruiting coordinator who went 2-22 as head coach at Akron.
Wide receivers coach David Beaty, who has strong Dallas recruiting ties, also has a shot at joining the offensive staff. Weis hasn’t named a defensive coordinator yet, but look for him to do so soon, and look for it to be someone other than Jim Leavitt.