Sheahon Zenger’s Charlie Weis hire inspired Bob Davis, voice of the Kansas University Jayhawks and Kansas City Royals, and his son, Steven, voice of the Northwest Arkansas Naturals and UMKC Kangaroos, to do what they do best: talk.
The son asked the father if it reminded him of Monte Johnson’s hiring of Larry Brown, a basketball coach who had worked some in the college game but primarily in the pros. Sure enough, it did. And the Davis voices aren’t alone in that regard.
“It’s interesting that you’d say that,” Johnson said when told of the Davis discussion. “I was walking into the Ohio State game with my son Jeff and his kids, and Sheahon poked his head out the door of Wagnon (Student Athlete Center) and said, ‘I hope my hire turns out to be as good as your hire of the basketball coach.’ It hit me later what he might have meant, a combination coach who had coached in the pros and in college.”
Brown had a reputation as among the game’s best teachers and game tacticians. Recruiting never was considered his greatest strength, but he did bring one advantage there.
“The players he recruited had to think in the backs of their minds, ‘He has a chance of getting me to the next level because he’s been at both levels and knows what it takes,’” Johnson said. “I guarantee you some kids came to KU because of Larry’s reputation as a pro coach. Back then, there weren’t as many coaches who had gone back and forth between college and the pros.”
Weis already has shown how his history of coaching up quarterbacks will enable him to recruit depth at the most vital building block to any football program.
His name carries enough weight to help him recruit up and down the roster. Most college football recruits have dreams of playing in the NFL. He can tell them with credibility he knows what the pros are seeking. It also should help in a less-tangible way. Parents, coaches and peers directly or indirectly influence the choices of high school athletes. All those groups will want to brag that Weis, the guy whose name has been mentioned so many times on the pre-game shows, Tom Brady’s first pro position coach, is paying a visit.
The buzz Zenger created hiring such a big name should translate to ticket sales as well.
“Not many people would know, if I asked them, what the average attendance was at the fieldhouse the year before Larry’s first season,” Johnson said. “It was about 8,500. I can remember a crowd of 3,000 for a Saturday game. In one half a season with Larry as coach, it started filling up, and from that point forward it stayed full. If there’s such a thing as believing you’re going to be good based on a hire, Larry had that reputation, and I think Charlie Weis could have that same advantage working for him.”
As a season-ticket holder, Johnson liked another aspect of the hire.
“As you’re rebuilding a program and want fan support to come back, having an exciting offensive coach and offensive style will help you do that,” Johnson said. “You need a defense to be good, but as you’re rebuilding, with an offensive coach, you’ll be exciting.”
And if Weis recruits the right defensive coordinator, good should follow exciting in time.