Friday, February 3, 2012

An easy sell: defensive coordinator Dave Campo excited for jump from NFL to KU

Kansas University defensive coordinator Dave Campo talks to media on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012, at the Anderson Family Football Complex.

Kansas University defensive coordinator Dave Campo talks to media on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012, at the Anderson Family Football Complex.


Any way you slice it, Kansas University defensive coordinator Dave Campo owed his wife one.

In the late 1980s, when Campo was working at the University of Miami, he and his wife, Kay, attended a Miami Dolphins game one Sunday afternoon. They sat in the nosebleed section and got the true fan experience.

“There were a few guys who had had a few too many to drink and beers all over and people yelling and cursing,” Campo recalled. “My wife said at that time, ‘Boy, I’m glad we’re not in the NFL.’ One year later we were with the Dallas Cowboys.”

Not long after that, Campo and his wife were at a party thrown by Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman, when they ran into former Dallas coach Barry Switzer.

“He had a few to drink,” Campo said. “And he wasn’t doing too well this particular night, and he’s sitting there as we’re walking out, and he says, ‘Hey Campo, come over here.’ I shook his hand and said, ‘This is my wife, Kay.’ Well, he stands up, grabs ahold of her, pulls her in and says, ‘I’ll tell ya, it’s great to meet you,’ and all that stuff, right. We finish the conversation, and we’re walking away and she goes, ‘Who was that?’ I said, ‘Well, that’s Barry Switzer.’ And she goes, ‘Man, am I glad you don’t work for him.’ One year later I call her up, and I say, ‘Hey, Kay, guess who my boss is now? Barry Switzer.’ She doesn’t wish for anything any more.”

It’s past stories such as those that made Campo’s move to Kansas such a hit for his family. Instead of wishing for things and watching the opposite come true — Campo said Kay later grew to love Switzer — Campo’s wife simply sat back and took what came her way. Campo, 64, did the same and now the two are residents of Lawrence. After initially thinking she would commute back and forth from Dallas, Kay visited Lawrence not long ago and decided that she’s moving to town, as well.

“She’s more excited about this than I am,” Campo said. “It’s different. There’s nothing better than Saturday on game day, and you don’t get that same feeling in the NFL. It was an easy sell for my wife.”

It may have been an even easier sell for Campo, who spent 18 years of a 23-year pro career working for the Cowboys but got his start in the business on the college coaching staffs of guys like Johnny Majors (Pitt) and Jimmy Johnson (Miami).

Campo, who was made available to the media for the first time on Thursday, when KU coach Charlie Weis’ entire staff participated in a media day of sorts, did not hear from Weis until he was fired by the Cowboys after finishing a four-year stint as the team’s secondary coach. Campo, who previously had been the head coach and defensive coordinator in Dallas, had been offered a job in the Cowboys’ front office, but knew he was not done coaching. That, among other reasons, is why he took Weis’ phone call.

“He brought me over one day, called me that night and I said I’m gonna take the job,” Campo said. “It didn’t take very long. This community and this place and this facility and Charlie sell themselves. That’s what sold me.”

Getting the chance to return to his college roots was another selling point.

“That’s the exciting part,” Campo said. “I think I’ve always leaned toward the younger players when I’ve been in the National Football League because they’re still hungry, they’re looking to go somewhere. I actually like those types of players more than the guys who are pretty happy with what they’re doing.”

Since accepting the job in mid-January, Campo has been on a whirlwind reunion with the college game that included two weeks of recruiting, introductions to new co-workers and the evaluation of a team that went 5-19 during the past two seasons and rarely played the kind of defense Campo is used to coaching.

With signing day now behind him and the task of fitting his philosophies to the pieces in place ahead, Campo just has started to scratch the surface of all the things that will matter on Saturdays this fall. He does not know yet whether the Jayhawks will play a 3-4 or a 4-3 defense. He has vast experience with both and is comfortable with either. He does not know yet whether the incoming players will crack the lineup, the current players will improve or some combination of both will occur. And he does not know exactly how he will go about trying to slow down the spread offenses that have become the signature style of the Big 12 Conference. But he has time to figure it all out, and that will start after the short break that’s on the horizon, the one that will allow Campo to return to Dallas to be with Kay and his two dogs.

“This is my 41st year of coaching, and I look at this almost as if I am changing careers,” Campo said. “I am going to a situation where I have to look at the things that are going on in college football from a football standpoint as well as getting back into the rules, which are completely different (from the NFL). There really is a lot of excitement, and I am looking forward to the gameday experience along with all the other things you find on the college level that you miss in the National Football League.”

Excitement and enthusiasm are staples of the Campo way. Ego is not.

“That’s what made coach Campo successful,” said new KU special teams coach, Clint Bowen, who also will coach KU’s safeties. “You may have some preconceived notions because he was the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, but when you meet him, you find out that this is just a good human being, a good, sincere, genuine person.”


gardenjay 9 years, 10 months ago

Great article - thanks for getting these introductions underway -

hawk316 9 years, 10 months ago

I think this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship...

Coach Campo, so glad you're on board! May you experience the greatest success of your entire career at KU!

Jim Baker 9 years, 10 months ago

Maybe I'm just a homer, but I am really encouraged with all the talk from our new coaches and players about how great a community Lawrence is, not just the facilities. It really sounds good when they say things like "the place sells itself". And I agree with Coach Campo; there's nothing better than Game Day on Saturdays!

Micky Baker 9 years, 10 months ago

Getting guys like this that come into Kansas and talk about the facilities favorably like this is going to go far in recruiting in future years. The campus is absolutely beautiful.

Shawn Otrimble 9 years, 10 months ago

Matt could you give us an update on Tevin Shaw? And any new info on others as possibilities of signings? I've really enjoyed your coverage of signing day and appreciate all the hard work you do.

april28 9 years, 10 months ago

Had a nightmare last night.......I was at the spring game with my family and there were only a few thousand people in the stands. Pretty scary.

Other than giving money, the number one thing we can do to help this program is create energy by showing up in droves at that game.

....interesting stuff on Campo. Seems like the perfect fit. His comments on needing to learn the college rules, plus the fact that he has to learn the Big 12, may indicate why Wyatt was kept and Bowen was brought in. They'll be huge time-savers in getting things up and running.

Exciting times in Jayhawk land.

Jayhawker111 9 years, 10 months ago

Spring Game - April time has been set.

nuleafjhawk 9 years, 10 months ago

I'm SURE there were no drunk and disorderly fans in the stadium at the University of Miami.

They are practically the Brigham Young of the Southeast.

Ben Kane 9 years, 10 months ago

back in the old days you could actually purchase alcohol at miami's stadium (orange bowl) during games because it was off campus. not that the mormanesqe fans ever did that...

JayhawkinNE 9 years, 10 months ago

There's also a great interview with Grunhard on You have to love the positive vibes!

KGphoto 9 years, 10 months ago

Good one. Didn't know Justin had it so rough.

Dirk Medema 9 years, 10 months ago

"I am not going to say I feel sorry for the guys because I had seven weeks of training camp with Marty."

tis4tim 9 years, 10 months ago

"...our way works and theirs obviously does not."

Love it!

Great article. Thanks for posting.

JacquesMerde 9 years, 10 months ago

I never did like the Dallas Cowboys after Tom Landry left, but Campo was an excellent coach. Their teams never suffered on defense. It was offensive that brought them down, along with the owner-GM, Jerry, the huckster, Jones.

Ethan Berger 9 years, 10 months ago

Defense has been a problem for 10-15 years for the cowboys. But it wasn't campos fault. Jerry hasnt drafted well

KGphoto 9 years, 10 months ago

I don't think Switzer has ever been to secretive about his lifestyle.

JayHok 9 years, 10 months ago

Naw that's just an old NFL boy telling an old story about his old friend in the good ol NFL days. He's probably laughed with Switzer on this topic several times. What's the old saying----Fragile feelings and oversensitive boys do not make NFL champions.

Jayhawker111 9 years, 10 months ago

My buddy is from Nebraska and he ran into Barry Switzer in Las Vegas playing blackjack.

Switzer is funny and a great guy.

People in Nebraska love Switzer.

All those great games between NU and Oklahoma.

Great teams and great coaches.

Those were the days!

Campo also sounds like a great guy. Good article.

JayHok 9 years, 10 months ago

A really nice article in the KC Star this morning on Grunhard. In the middle of the article, there's a solid shout out to Kansas football fans from Grunhard. Keep in mind Kansas basically sucked at this point in the season, had the worst defense in the history of college football and were going up against a near certain beat-down against a prolific spread offense.

KC Star----Grunhard has been watching the program’s ebbs and flows for two decades from Kansas City, and even in the bad times — he attended the Oklahoma home game last season — he saw a fan base that desperately wanted a winner.

“I was pleasantly surprised by the enthusiasm of the fans,” Grunhard said. “And I remember how it was around here in ’07, the Orange Bowl year, when Kansas football was the rage in Kansas City. We need to get back to that.”

Dirk Medema 9 years, 10 months ago

The ideas vary, but a general theme guides perhaps the most enthusiastic member of coach Charlie Weis’ new Jayhawks football staff. “I’ve had a lot of great mentors in my life, people who made such a great impression on me,” Grunhard said. “Shame on me if I don’t do that for other kids.”As he said it, Grunhard’s fingers banged the table.

Tony Bandle 9 years, 10 months ago

Good God, we may just have a football team, after all!!

Obviously you want to win every game but, this coming season I'd be thrilled with:

1] 4-6 victories. 2] Hard, competitive play. 3] Lots of scoring 4] Noticable roster development from opening day till season's end. 5] A knockout recruiting class for 2013. 6] Increased enthusiasm by the fan base.

troutsee 9 years, 10 months ago

We are going to be a tough "out" this year. No more blow outs. The coaches will see to it that we come to play this year and that we don't give up. It'll help to have a few more weopons on each side of the ball, too.

grandpa 9 years, 9 months ago

good to hear from you. I am still agreeing with everything you said. I think Campo is going to be a big help. I hope we can get a good throwing quarterback. This will attract the good receivers. Good receivers do not want to sign with a team unless they have a good throwing quarterbback. Grandpa from Texas

april28 9 years, 10 months ago

Sad day for me.....I'm thinking that the football stories are going to become few and far between for the next month. I guess my 8th-ranked Jayhawks will have to do for the next four weeks.

JayHok 9 years, 10 months ago

Weis and company will keep those headlines coming I suspect.

Two more have joined since signing day. One a kid who was planning on playing for Iowa, the other a fast 6'2" walkon from Miege.

The football program is finally a 12 month a year kind of big story with a lot of fan interest and readership IMHO even if it's 30 days straight of strength and ND-Gator fifth year senior speculation stories to get us to March. The coaches actually give us great stories and quotes too so the stories are fun reads as compared to the Gill articles!


danmoore 9 years, 10 months ago

149 days until mizwho officially leaves the conference! Hope that cheers you up.

Mike Kendall 9 years, 9 months ago

Great article, Matt. Campo seems like the right fit. I have said this so many times, I have lost count---if we could have a half-way decent defense to go along with our decent offense, we could definitely compete in the League!

Steve Brown 9 years, 9 months ago

4.28.2012 wonder who survives boot camp.

grandpa 9 years, 9 months ago

I have been a Kansas University fan for the past 5 years and I am looking forward to some winning years . From what I can see, the new head coach is surrounding himself with good people including coaches and players. I am all for getting rid of players on full scholarships if they don't produce. I think Campos is going to help the Jayhawks. Being here in Texas, I have been a big fan of the Cowboys but not the owner, Jerry Jones. He needs to let the coaches run the team and keep his mouth shut. Recruiting will be so important for the Jayhawks in the future. There are a lot of good prospects here in the Texas high schools but don't overlook the other states as well. If Kansas can develope a good quarterback who can throw the ball, then the good receivers will want to go there. Here's hoping for a good future from a country7 boy in Texas.!!!

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