Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Weis masters motivational art of ‘button-pushing’

Kansas University quarterback Dayne Crist, left, listens to KU coach Charlie Weis during spring drills on Tuesday, March 27, 2012, at the practice fields south of Memorial Stadium.

Kansas University quarterback Dayne Crist, left, listens to KU coach Charlie Weis during spring drills on Tuesday, March 27, 2012, at the practice fields south of Memorial Stadium.


One of the eye-opening bits of information that came from a recent sit-down with Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis was the fact that the man keeps a mattress and blankets in his office so he can grab some quick sleep before getting back to work without having to go home for the night.

That box of bedding was not put there for show, nor does it go unused. Weis is famous for working while others are asleep and is dedicated to putting countless hours into coaching.

Part of his intense work ethic came from his blue-collar, New Jersey upbringing. Many of the people Weis grew up around had this same mentality in their jobs, and that sense of pride rubbed off on him at an early age. But one of the most recent men who inspired Weis to become such a hard worker was Bill Parcells, the legendary NFL coach whom Weis credits for shaping him into the coach he is today.

“Parcells was the ultimate button-pusher,” Weis said. “He’d find what button made everyone achieve a higher level and he’d keep on pressing that button.”

Most days, Weis had a front row seat to watch Parcells push, prod and manipulate his players into digging deeper. Every once in a while, and with some regularity, Parcells picked the buttons that belonged to his coaching staff.

Weis remembers well the first time Parcells fired his way.

“With me, it was questioning my work ethic,” Weis said. “I always worked as hard or harder than anyone, but it would be 11 o’clock at night, we’d be at Hofstra (University for training camp), I’d be the only one left in the building, everyone else is gone and he’d walk by as I’d be getting my coat on to go ahead and leave and he’d say, ‘Another early night, huh?’ And then he’d walk out, knowing that I’d take my coat off (and say), ‘OK, there’s something else I could be doing.’ He knew what button to push and he’d press it and he’d press it and he’d press it. And he did it with everyone. He was the best. Always will be.”

As the years went by, Weis not only got used to Parcells’ signature style — even evolving to be able to predict when it was coming — but also began to incorporate the art into his own coaching playbook.

The list of players whose buttons Weis has pushed is long and still growing, but one in particular holds special significance for Kansas fans.

Sometime in early 2008, when a highly-touted high school quarterback out of California named Dayne Crist made one final trip to Notre Dame, Weis did his finest work.

“The day he came in to visit,” Weis recalled, “he was about ready to commit to LSU, and I said, ‘What? Are you afraid of competing against (Notre Dame starter Jimmy) Clausen?’ Well, then he committed three days later to us. Because that wasn’t him. I pressed the right button with that one.”

If not for that move, Crist probably would have gone to LSU, and, therefore, probably would not be the starting quarterback at KU today.

That’s just one example of the dozens of strategies that Weis swiped from Parcells. But it seems to be the one he’s most proud of, and, even though he’s only been around his new team for seven months, Weis already has started pushing buttons in Lawrence.

“We’ve settled in on a lot of them,” he said. “But the thing is you’re gonna have to learn the new ones. Recruiting them and actually having them here are two different things, now. Obviously, the ones you knew already are easy. (Notre Dame transfers, Mike) Ragone and Anthony McDonald coming here, they’re easy. Because I’ll say things to them a lot colder than I will most other people. If they screw up, it’s bad. I mean really bad. As bad as you’ve ever heard it. Just think of the worst you’ve ever heard and go a lot worse than that.”

Weis says this with not so much as a hint of a smile. It’s fact. Business. His way of doing things. And, just as his mentor did with the whole button-pushing thing, Weis takes great pride in his ability to reach his players this way.

“I can safely say there isn’t a player that I can’t break down within 60 seconds,” Weis said.

On this team?

“On any team,” he said.


Lucas Town 1 year, 9 months ago

I apologize to everyone on this board but I am going to be a little less optimistic about Weis. Anyone who thinks his previous college coaching record and where he has been is anything to be impressed with...I am just not on board yet. Led ND to their worst season in school history. Florida sucked last year. I have friends and family who are K-State fans and they feel the same way about their basketball coach as I do about Weis. He was the clean hire with no baggage. ND was on a 7 game skid when Weis took over. KU on a 10 game skid, I think this program is a long way (serveral years) from being something I can be proud of.


DocPossum 1 year, 9 months ago

Weis and his coaching staff have experience in with what works and what does not work. OJT doesn't work at ND (see Brennan, Devore, Faust, Davie, etc). You must have head coaching experience to have a chance at success there. Weis' time at ND has resulted in his evolution into a head coach. His successes at ND have been noted above. Recruiting, offensive scheme, motivating, player loyalty, honesty, interest in academic success of athletes, doing things the right way, etc. The lack of success also has been well documented; distractions early on as he stayed with Pats during a Superbowl Run, which resulted in hiring good assistants, based on advice, that did not / could not work together (three DCs in Weis tenure). Also Willingham did not recruit enough OLs, so along with Superbowl distraction the OL cupboard was bare beyond those who started for TW. With the D unable to stop critical drives and the young OL on the field too long, ND lost a number of games in the fourth Q, especially during Weis' last two years at ND.
Charlie has learned his head coaching lessons the hard way (as have other members of his staff). His time spent away from ND was not spent idly. He didn't have to work, as ND is still probably paying him. But he was driven to continue to develop, learn, and evolve. He like the rest of his coaching staff, including the strength coach, have a burning desire for excellence. Excellence in all aspects of the program. You can see this in every thing he and his staff does as he rebuilds the KU football program. His hiring the right strength coach will help in the fourth quarter, his hiring a coaching staff that has experience in working together and/or having the same work ethic and values fixes the poor mix he had at ND, the reputation of your coaches will help open doors in high Schools across the country, and his stressing of academics and doing things the right way will resonate with many mommas across the country. KU has much to offer. It has to be packaged correctly to impact recruiting, Weis, Iannello, etal get it. The KU program will not be for everyone, as unfortunately many teens and families are seeking bright lights rather than excellence. Wins will come once everything gets fixed. Your current condition did not happen overnight so the wins will not likely happen overnight. But I can assure you that no head coach in the country will outwork Charlie in his pursuit of excellence for the KU program. The wins will follow.


Ralster Jayhawk 1 year, 9 months ago

Appreciate the insight from lund, but in other articles in the past 2-3 months on this site, Weis has said on many, many occasions that he is starting from the "very beginning" with the players, the football mindset, the workout regimen. I think just to develop players, he has gone out and brought in NFL-caliber, or respected college coaches. Holsopple. Campo (known as a fundamentals-defense type of coach), Grunhard (a bit new as a coach, but with his NFL credibility, if he can simply make guys do as he did, we will have one of the most pivotal skill positions, the o-line, beyond what we have seen for years). Grunhard was on one of the very best o-lines in the NFL during the Trent Green era. I also think the trick to Weis+Campo+Grunhard+Bowen+Holsopple recruiting well is to sell their "coaching" and the implied 'get you to the next level'. So, in answer to lund's opinion about Weis not developing players--> I say Weis is starting at ground zero at ku to do just that (&everything) better than he did at NDame.


machinegun 1 year, 9 months ago

When our team goes 0-9 in conference, somebody needs to light a fire! That somebody is Coach Charlie Weis!


Mike Hart 1 year, 9 months ago

Mdlund0: "... A structure will not stand long on a poor foundation, and without player development, you have no foundation". Gee thanks... That's so intuitive and deeply enlightening. Why not break out alternate analogies: player development is the oar that propels the boat... The pedals that power the bike... One of the legs to a stool without which... The stool falls over. So what?!?


jhawkrulz 1 year, 9 months ago

I always thought T. Wilingham was too defensive minded. He was successful, but never could score points. I thought C. Weis (at ND) was too offensive minded, and the two early years mixed the Ty and Charlie and had successful BCS bowl appearances. As time drifted on the coaching problems escalated, not because HCCW couldn't develop talent, he just wasn't focused on the defense. They scored a lot of points, they just didn't stop anyone. With that in mind, the most critical thing that I thought that needed to occur for the success of KU football (not sure if that is an oxymoron currently), was the selection of a Defensive coordinator. I think we have something solid there, and that is what will make us successful in the long run.

I always thought that when they brought in Charlie Weis at ND if he Ty Wilingham as his DC the team would have been unstoppable.


JHAWKSWAG 1 year, 9 months ago

I liked those unis we rocked in the border war a few years back against misery


CrimsonAndBlueForLife 1 year, 9 months ago

As long as Weis is looking to motivate his players, here's a great way to do it: Change their uniforms to look like the NFL team he came from: the Patriots! Silver helmets with a Jayhawk logo and a red facemask, dark blue jerseys with white numerals for home games, white jerseys with dark blue numerals for away games, silver pants for home games, dark blue pants for away games.


Micky Baker 1 year, 9 months ago

It sounds like Weis might be a better coach than he was at ND. He had some time to push some buttons at Arrowhead with those offensive players that out performed their own skill level. If this converts to the field on game day at Kansas, I think it's going to be an exciting season to say the least.


oldalum 1 year, 9 months ago

A removed comment is like an unopened Christmas present. I always wish I knew what was in it.


ClemsonDandy 1 year, 9 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.


ClemsonDandy 1 year, 9 months ago

You know who else could push buttons? Jerry Sandusky. The question is, how long will it be before we'll be reading about Weis cornholing somebody in his makeshift bedroom?


John Dalke 1 year, 9 months ago

If he is such a motivational genius, why didn't things work out at Notre Dame?


Fototherapist 1 year, 9 months ago

After Gill was fired I said I want the biggest, fattest, meanest head football coach we could find. Heck, I would have been fine with getting Mangino back. So far, I think Weis has exceeded my expectations.


thjhawk 1 year, 9 months ago

This maybe a bit off subject but what the heck.....Everyone is sick and saddened by the whole Penn State situation. There is talk that if PSU gets the death penalty that current players would be able to leave and immediately be elgiable to play at another school. you think coach is keeping a close eye on this situation and do you think it would be possible to atract some of these transfering athletes?.....Just a thought.


Robert Brown 1 year, 9 months ago

We are just a few weeks from seeing if the new culture will translate to improved performance on the field. The bar is set pretty low. I'm setting an over under at 4.5. I'll take the under with the deciding game being at NIU. If KU can win that game, I think they could pull out five wins which would be successful. If they win 3-4 games and are competitive in the other games, they will have been sucessful in my book.


qringer 1 year, 9 months ago

It's scary what it takes to be successful. It seams that living a balanced life that has time for family, work, sleep, etc. is out if you want to achieve success. I don't think I could do it, or for that matter would want to.


clevelandjayhawker 1 year, 9 months ago

"..... Because I’ll say things to them a lot colder than I will most other people. If they screw up, it’s bad. I mean really bad. As bad as you’ve ever heard it. Just think of the worst you’ve ever heard and go a lot worse than that.”

Out of context, but can Weis rip pinkle a new one for his dumb comments yesterday?

Missery- we always knew you were classy, thanks for having your head coach prove it at your big sec media day, you’re in the right conference


Robert Brock 1 year, 9 months ago

The last time Weis took off some time to see a movie the film was Lawrence of Arabia.


Keith Hummel 1 year, 9 months ago

When the head coach is so dedicated that he occasionally sleeps in his office it sets the tone for the entire team. You see it in the players attitudes this summer. I don't remember a time when there was this much focus and energy and excitement about an upcoming football season at KU, and it all starts with Weis.


JHWKDW 1 year, 9 months ago

Hope Weis can get the job done and make KU respectable once again.Good luck coach Weis.

Rock Chalk!


Bangkok_Jayhawk 1 year, 9 months ago

I am THRILLED that we have Crist... That being said, I wonder if he wishes he could redo that LSU decision. He probably would have started in a National Championship game.


Dan Pawlowski 1 year, 9 months ago

OMG. I hope he isn't mean to them. ;)


Eric Mitchell 1 year, 9 months ago

I'm just glad Arist Wright isn't on this team to complain.


manginorh00lz 1 year, 9 months ago

While I approve wholeheartedly of this, isn't it odd that KU just fired Mangino for doing the exact same thing?


fearthephog512 1 year, 9 months ago

Nice story, Matt. I just hope Weis is pushing the right combination of buttons to generate some wins this year. In any case, it should be a fun season to watch. Rock Chalk!


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