The connections are few and far between, but the ones that exist are meaningful.
Only four of the Big 12 Conference’s nine other football coaches knew Kansas University coach Charlie Weis prior to his being hired by the Jayhawks, and earlier this week at Big 12 media days in Dallas, those four shared their memories with the Journal-World.
From mutual respect and encounters at football functions to trips overseas and showdowns on opposing sidelines, the coaches who came in contact with Weis in the not-too-distant past hold fond memories of their encounters.
“Charlie’s been a great friend for a number of years,” Texas coach Mack Brown said. “I had such great respect for all he did (with) the New England Patriots. In winning those Super Bowls, he created one of the top offenses in pro football history.”
When Weis took the Notre Dame job in 2005, Brown said he remembered being thrilled for his friend to be taking the prestigious job at his alma mater. And unlike most, Brown said he thought Weis did a good job during his five seasons at Notre Dame.
“It’s been a hard job for the past few years,” Brown said.
From there, the UT legend followed Weis as he spent one season back in the NFL with the Kansas City Chiefs and another working under former Texas assistant Will Muschamp at Florida.
“For him to take a Kansas City Chiefs team that was struggling and help their quarterback so much, I thought he was at the top of his game again,” Brown said. “And I’m so happy that he’s back as a head coach in college because we need guys like Charlie leading programs.”
Similar sentiments were echoed by Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville, who, in 2007, spent meaningful time with Weis and a few other college coaches on a trip overseas to visit U.S. troops.
“You find out a lot about each other when you travel together for 10 days and travel 50,000 miles and sleep on cots and fly in airplanes,” Tuberville said. “We had a great time and became good friends on that trip. He’s a solid guy, and he understands what he wants to do, and I think he’ll do a good job.”
That’s what Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads remembers Weis doing, and one memory in particular still sticks with Rhoads.
“When he was new to Notre Dame, his first game was against a Pitt football team that I was the defensive coordinator on,” recalled Rhoads of the 2005 season opener. “(ESPN’s College) Gameday was there, and he proceeded to hang 42 points on a defense I was responsible for and embarrassed me quite thoroughly. So I know how good he is as a play-caller and how capable he is as a football coach, and I have the utmost respect for him.”
With Iowa State being picked to finish eighth in the preseason poll, Rhoads said adding a coach like Weis made an already-difficult conference schedule even tougher.
“Here’s a guy that walks into the room with Super Bowl championship rings, with a résumé that says head coach at Notre Dame on it,” Rhoads said. “You’ve gotta be respectful of that. He’s made a lot of noise in a short amount of time at KU, and I’m sure he’s going to continue to do that.”
Years ago, Baylor coach Art Briles spent time with Weis at an adidas event, but, like the rest of the league’s coaches, did not really know him outside of that.
While the five Big 12 coaches who do not know Weis did not have any personal stories to share, each was happy to offer his thoughts about Weis joining the league and their answers sounded pretty similar.
“You don’t coach on teams that win Super Bowls by just being a guy,” OSU coach Mike Gundy said. “I’m not familiar with (Patriots coach) Bill Belichick, other than what I read and hear, but I’m gonna guess that to hang around him, you’ve probably gotta be pretty good football coach.”
Added K-State coach Bill Snyder: “I’ve heard so much about Charlie, and I’ve met Charlie, but we never coached together or against each other. I think coaching is coaching, and teaching is teaching, and playing is playing. The game is the same. I know there are little tweaks here and there that make (the NFL) somewhat different. But if you’re a quality coach, which Charlie is, then you’re a quality coach.”
Bye bye, Barlow
After traveling a long and winding road to get to Lawrence, Neal Barlow left without ever having played a down.
The junior wide receiver-turned-tight end is no longer with the Kansas University football program, KU officials confirmed Thursday.
Barlow, who began his college career by red-shirting at Arkansas in 2009, transferred to KU last summer after leaving Arkansas State, where he had played basketball in 2010.
Making things even more confusing was the fact that the 6-foot-6, 200-pound Arkansas native originally committed to KU out of high school in 2008 before choosing to join the in-state Razorbacks.
After finally arriving at Kansas under former KU coach Turner Gill, Barlow sat out the 2011 season due to NCAA transfer rules. This offseason, he added weight and shifted to tight end, where Weis believed he had a better chance to make an impact. KU’s 2012 spring prospectus included Barlow’s bio, but the new media guide, which came out last week, did not have Barlow in it.
Ranked as the fourth-best player in Arkansas in the class of 2009, Barlow chose the Razorbacks over KU, Missouri and LSU.
According to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, former Kansas University wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe has been cut by Tampa Bay.
Briscoe, who was drafted in the sixth round of the NFL Draft by Cincinnati and then cut before the 2010 season, played two seasons with Tampa Bay, who picked him up immediately after the Bengals released him.
During his two seasons in Tampa, Briscoe appeared in 18 games and caught 41 passes for 480 yards and seven touchdowns. After a strong finish to the 2010 season, Briscoe enjoyed a breakout year in 2011, finishing with 387 yards and a team-high six TDs on 35 receptions in 16 games.
The timing of his release is a little odd, but makes some sense because the Bucs signed free agent wideout Vincent Jackson to a big contract this offseason.
Briscoe, who played at KU from 2007-09, is KU’s career leader in receiving yards (3,240) and touchdowns (31).