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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Man with a plan: Weis making impression beyond field

Kansas head coach Charlie Weis calls a play during the first half of the Spring Game on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at Kivisto Field.

Kansas head coach Charlie Weis calls a play during the first half of the Spring Game on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at Kivisto Field.

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We all know about the Notre Dame transfers, the big-time quarterbacks and the changes he made to the Kansas University football roster.

But six months after he was hired, the impact of new KU football coach Charlie Weis goes far beyond a simple reshaping of the rules and roster.

According to KU officials, season-ticket sales are up 4,000 packages from where they were at the end of last season. The announced attendance of 15,000 for the spring game in April was larger than what KU had seen in recent years. And traffic and activity on websites and message boards specific to KU football have soared since December.

Although the increase in season-ticket sales might not knock anyone’s socks off, one KU official pointed out that it was an impressive starting point.

“We haven’t even kicked off our summer sales push yet,” said Jim Marchiony, KU’s associate athletic director for communications.

It remains to be seen how much the push will add to that number, but this much is known: After 21⁄2 years of embarrassment, KU football has something to sell again. Weis and the Jayhawks are taking advantage of that.

With his first recruiting class scheduled to report to campus in a week, Weis used the month of May as an opportunity to get out among the people. Last week, he wrapped up a nine-stop tour of Kansas that took him from Dodge City and Hays to Kansas City and Topeka and places in between. Everywhere he went, he was greeted with open arms and crowds of 100 to 350 KU fans and alumni, who showed up at golf courses, country clubs and athletic venues to hear Weis share his vision for Kansas. It’s a message most had heard more than once already, and it is rooted in terms such as discipline, accountability and honesty.

“He’s a no-nonsense kind of guy, it sounds like, and he said that discipline is going to be a primary focus there, and he’s not putting up with any garbage,” said Jim Trower, president of Salina’s chapter for the KU Alumni Association. “His quote was, ‘(Fans) don’t want dirt bags on the team, and he doesn’t want dirt bags on the team, either,’ and that kind of resonated with me. I had several people mention to me that they really liked that.”

It was not just what Weis said that made Jayhawks across Kansas feel like the program was headed in the right direction once again.

“I think coach (Mark) Mangino came out once,” Trower said. “I can remember Glen Mason coming out once. So to have coach Weis come out to Salina in the first six months of his tenure there at KU is pretty exciting, and the people in Salina were pretty fired up to hear that he was going out of his way to come out to all of the communities in Kansas. I just liked the whole attitude. They started way out west and went east, and that’s not normal. They normally hit the big cities first and go to the little cities second.”

Although the idea for the tour seemed a lot like something a savvy marketing director might cook up in his office, it wasn’t.

“What was most meaningful to me was that Charlie came to me in February with this idea that he wanted to get out around the state and meet people wherever we wanted him to go,” said KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger, who joined Weis at all of the stops. “He said, ‘I don’t care if it’s three stops a day, whatever works, I’m yours.’”

Up to that point, Weis’ focus had been entirely on football. From this point on, it again will be about football. But for the month of May, it was about the people and the relationships both he and Zenger believe are crucial to making Kansas football competitive again.

“Coach Weis has done an awesome job early of getting out to the most important areas of our state,” said Heath Peterson, assistant VP for alumni and student programs at the KU Alumni Association. “He’s really blanketed the state and has shown that he understands the importance of connecting with fans and alumni throughout Kansas. I think a lot of people were waiting to form an opinion on this hire until they met coach Weis. And, now that more have, far and away what I heard was that people were blown away by him, and they’re excited for his brand of football.”

Weis has that affect on people. Although he says he’s not super-comfortable talking in front of crowds, you’d never know it from watching and listening. He’s engaging, humorous and honest. That led those who met him in May to feel even more of a genuine connection to him.

“I know I appreciated the way and candor with which he answered questions,” said one alum who attended the Garden City function. “We don’t see those guys out here very often, and it was very cool to see that he didn’t just regurgitate the same-old coach-speak answers when he was here.”

Another alumnus who attended the event in Dodge City said it was clear that Weis and Zenger were “two peas in a pod” and added that having those two men in charge of KU football gave him hope for the future.

That’s what the tour was about, and, really, what Weis’ first six months in Lawrence were about. Weis believes he can create a winner here, but more importantly, he believes there’s a right way to do it. The groundwork is laid, and the structure is in place. It’s football season in Lawrence again.

“I want to make sure everybody understands that this was an old-fashioned, go-out-and-meet-the-people effort,” Zenger said. “This was not about campaigning or anything like that. This was just an old-fashioned meet-and-greet. Charlie and I both understand what our job is today and going forward. This is rebuilding the Kansas football program, and it’s going to be one brick at a time.”

Comments

ahpersecoachingexperience 2 years, 3 months ago

Class _ _ _hole?

Time posting?

Time you ever read a whole article and made it to the comment section?

Watch? (Dang I miss that place!)

Is what you girlfriend said to me right after we...?

Man on the moon? (jeopardy style)

Aid kit needed if I ever meet a person that post "first"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Doug Cramer 2 years, 3 months ago

Wished I could of made the Pittsburg stop.

If Weis and Campo can recruit some big time talent on defense...particularly the defensive line...we might be able to compete in our conference. It won't happen this year...but hopefully this the 2013 recruiting class has some big nasties on the D-line.

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Chris Bruning 2 years, 3 months ago

Ummm maybe im in the minority here but i certainly think we will compete well in our league this year, defense needs lots of improvement obviously , but our offensive weapons are the real deal

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Jeremy Bolinger 2 years, 3 months ago

No doubt we'll be competitive. Just don't expect 6+ wins this year and a bowl game.

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Doug Cramer 2 years, 3 months ago

Depends on what you mean by "compete in our league".

I was talking about competing for a conference championship.

That's not happening this year.

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Jeff Kilgore 2 years, 3 months ago

Ummm unless we have new real defensive players, we're only going to be competitive on the offensive side. I don't think we're into giving up 56 points in the first half like we did against OSU, but there are going to be some simply ugly games this year. That certainly won't be Weis's fault.

Things will get much better in the second and third years.

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ahpersecoachingexperience 2 years, 3 months ago

Now the writers are just trying to be cute by putting "Kansas University" in the first paragraph of every story. Starting to think the LJW staff might be the biggest trolls on this sight. Wanting us to get all fired up over this issue instead of the actual article. So instead of a few worth while comments from fans who attended an event or people talking about why/how excited they are to purchase season tickets. The comment section will again nose dive into the ditch where readers cannot help but to stop and look as if it were the scene of a horrible accident.

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gdkadjayhawk 2 years, 3 months ago

Thanks for taking us in the direction of the ditch...twice. :(

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741hawk 2 years, 3 months ago

Agree. Too much interest in football and basketball and tearing out the track to worry about Jayhawk Journalism style.

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Jeff Kilgore 2 years, 3 months ago

Kansas University = University of Kansas

The first requires only two words. Change the official name already.

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JayHok 2 years, 3 months ago

"T.H.E." University of Kansas

Flagship institution of the state. Considering all the conference realignment is over for us at least it's probably a good time for the higher ups at KU to once and for all correct this for the LJW. It's really a 2 sentence letter and that solves it.

It's an image issue and should be important to Zenger among others.

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Dan Pawlowski 2 years, 3 months ago

I'm with you on that. I never get confused as to what university is being discussed here at kusports.com. :)

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bville_hawk 2 years, 3 months ago

Maybe the LJW ought to just keep open a continuous blog for those anal fixated individuals who have a problem with Kansas University. There they can post with like-minded anal retentives and support and encourage each other (and criticize each other for punctuation and grammatical miscues). Then the rest of us could enjoy some football conversation without the side show.

People going off on this issue reminds me soooo much of THE Ohio State University. BFD, get over yourselves. How pretentious can you get?

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Setherick 2 years, 3 months ago

*"Site" not "sight."

Come on Apherse, you're getting sloppy. Nah, just trollin' ya.

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Gary McCullough 2 years, 3 months ago

Wish he would come south and talk to the alumni chapters in Lubbock, Dallas, and Austin. Heck, I'd chauffer him around the state. I know all the pit BBQs between those cities that make ground transportation tolerable in Texas.

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Randy Bombardier 2 years, 3 months ago

I was thinking along the same lines. Heck, the fact is he doesn't have to do any of it since he is getting paid by ND. I think CW genuinely loves what he is doing, discovered KU while with the Chiefs and found and likes what we all like, wants to build a legacy and is competitive in every way. Going out to the western part of the state is not just PR. It is a first step in winning hearts and minds. He knows KU can be to K-State what OU is to Okie State. Big Brother, dominant, the premier state university in Kansas.

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Micky Baker 2 years, 3 months ago

I once hit a tumble weed that started in St. Francis and I hit it in Rolla. at least, it looked like it had that many miles on it.

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Lance Cheney 2 years, 3 months ago

Few people here will get the geography behind that reference (without mapquesting it).

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jayhawkintexas 2 years, 3 months ago

Maybe Coach Self will barnstorm the state before basketball season begins. That would be a nice gesture.

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yates33333 2 years, 3 months ago

Yeah! But think about what Self did this past season. If the a--holes from Kentucky hadn't got lucky I would have thought that God was really a Jayhawk. Of course, He may be anyway. He did send us Self under the trying circumstances of Williams' departure.

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Robert Moore 2 years, 3 months ago

Weiss is a class act. The real class act though is Zenger. This is an AD we really needed.

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Robert Brown 2 years, 3 months ago

I would tend to agree about Zenger. I said from the beginning that we cannot judge hires like Weis and Zenger until they get some experience in the job. I have been impressed with Zenger and Weis appears to be doing all the right things. If KU wins 4+ games and is competitive in the other, Weis will have had a successful season.

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yates33333 2 years, 3 months ago

Weiss is a first class act. Now if he can take us to the Orange Bowl or some similar game like Mangino I can forget what bum treatment the fat man got.

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Robert Brown 2 years, 3 months ago

If Weis gets us to an Orange Bowl or any other major bowl, his accomplishments would have been greater than Mangino's. There is no longer an easy scheduling path with the ten team conference.

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CougIsLJW 2 years, 3 months ago

Getting to the Orange Bowl is great. Winning the Orange Bowl is even better.

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Martin Rosenblum 2 years, 3 months ago

Getting us to any bowl but not being abusive to players is the best scenario!

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Dan Pawlowski 2 years, 3 months ago

Please, It's division one football!

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Martin Rosenblum 2 years, 3 months ago

Were you the defense attorney at Penn State? Why do you think Mangino was canned, because he didn't put up enough points in the Oragne Bowl win? Yeah, it wasn't the same kind of abuse, but, who needs to have their coach berate and slap their players around like Mangino did?

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Dan Pawlowski 2 years, 3 months ago

Nowhere near the same kind of abuse and your flippant remark is tragic. Most football coaches yell and insult players for motivation. If you played you would know this. Have you ever watched a college football game? Pay attention to the coach yelling at players. It is the norm. Mangino got railroaded out of town and people not in touch with reality bought the reason. Perkins was looking for any excuse to get rid of him.

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Martin Rosenblum 2 years, 3 months ago

If motivation is insulting players during a game to get the best performance, you've got the wrong players and the wrong coach.

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Martin Rosenblum 2 years, 3 months ago

..and, if the answer to motivation is insulting players, does that mean that coaches with better winning records are better at insulting their players?

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Martin Rosenblum 2 years, 3 months ago

...and, if players come forward and report the insults and abuse, does that mean they should be ignored in the name of motivation?

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Lance Cheney 2 years, 3 months ago

Ha! I get it! Grammar police! Haha.

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Jayhawk1958 2 years, 3 months ago

But fires the guy that got them there.

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machinegun 2 years, 3 months ago

The plan: Pass-Pass-Pass! In his last 3 seasons, Reesing passed 445, 495, and 496 times. Of course he had the O-Line and Receivers. What did the Preacher do? Barely finished ahead of K-State for dead last in passing in the Big 12. Coach Weis knows exactly what he needs to do to make this a winning program again.

With MU gone, we are going to direct more attention toward our in-state rival. We are going to compete for the best talent in the State of Kansas. Give him time. Coach Weis is going to drive Snyder and his run first offense right back into retirement. Sure, K-State had a good season finishing second in the Big 12 but Snyder is 32-28 in his last 5 years at K-State.

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danmoore 2 years, 3 months ago

And with ksu replacing mu as our rival it raises the bar.

ksu > than mu.

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danmoore 2 years, 3 months ago

Oh my what an embarassing faux pas. Thanks for correcting my clerical error.

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jhox 2 years, 3 months ago

I have to admit, I thought it was a bad hire because I thought he would just collect his money and go through the motions, but I couldn't have been more wrong. This is a coach with a chip on his shoulder who clearly intends to prove his critics wrong, and Notre Dame wrong as well. His creativity in a short recruiting period was especially impressive.

KANSAS UNIVERSITY football is in great hands.

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KU_Phogified 2 years, 3 months ago

Agree with your sentiment jhox, except I thought Weis was a tremendous hire from day one. I was stunned we got him - props to Zenger.

Don't think for one second that Weis doesn't want to "undo" his "rep" from the Notre Dame "fiasco". What he's done here so far is amazing. The way he's embraced the University of Kansas, the Kansas people and the KU football program indicates he is deadly serious about turning this program around.

KU football in great hands .... absolutely! And with all the realignment crapola ruining college athletics, it's important that we get this football program lined out.

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jhawkrulz 2 years, 3 months ago

One thing I like about Weis, is that he said he learned a lot from his first stint as a head coach.

One thing that the people at ND always talked about was how he didn't connect with the fanbase, that he was arrogant, that he didn't like doing the fundraisers, and all the other stuff. He just wants to coach.

Clearly, either he has humbled himself and/or he truly understands that college is more than football, it is working with the boosters, working with the athletes and laying a foundation.

Additional, is he always thought he could out score the other guy. I think that he relies heavily on the defensive coordinator to handle those things, and probably didn't get the right foundation for that at ND. If I were to guess, Charlie Weis' success will be as much a product as Dave Campo's work as his own.

Here is to an oustanding season (4+ wins---let's set our sights high). And if we get more wins then the Men's basketball team did in the NCAA tournament this year, it would be considered Stellar!!

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bville_hawk 2 years, 3 months ago

I was okay but not thrilled with the Weis hire initially, but he has really grown on me. He hasn't said or done anything that I would disagree with or criticize. It continues to amaze me how much he "gets it" Kansas style being a New Jersey NFL guy and all. Short of Lou Saban or Vince Lombardi I don't see how we could have made a better hire.

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bville_hawk 2 years, 3 months ago

Oops, Nick Saban. Wasn't Lou Saban the coach of the Broncos back in the 60's?

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Jayhawk1958 2 years, 3 months ago

Based on a tough schedule, I'm thinking 4 wins. Pull an upset and maybe 5.

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Jayhawk1958 2 years, 3 months ago

I'm sure the A.D. made it crystal clear on what he wanted Weis to do or an else thing.

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jksport 2 years, 3 months ago

BAN this Ftard! ahpersecoachingexperience

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