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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Keegan

Opinion: Don’t sell Weis short for choice of words

Kansas football coach Charlie Weis answers questions from the media during the Big 12 Conference Football Media Days Monday, July 22, 2013 in Dallas.

Kansas football coach Charlie Weis answers questions from the media during the Big 12 Conference Football Media Days Monday, July 22, 2013 in Dallas.

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Since perception is ninth-tenths reality, it’s safe to say Charlie Weis goofed by going national with his “pile of crap,” phraseology he used with recruits when he let them know they should feel confident about immediate playing time.

But shouldn’t reality count for at least 10 percent of reality? I mean, before declaring that one sentence too many and a 1-11 debut season means the Weis hire has exploded in athletic director Sheahon Zenger’s face, would it be OK to look at the entire picture first, even if it means not joining the pile-on? (See how easy it is to be guilty of a poor choice of words. Flag me 15 yards.)

Weis inherited a roster lacking young depth on both lines and in the secondary and one that didn’t have a quarterback capable of winning Division I games. So he brought Dayne Crist on board. He was no better, and in fact, even worse. He also recruited Brigham Young transfer Jake Heaps, who deserves a chance to be judged on his own performance, not on that of Crist. Brady Quinn became way better playing for Weis for two years at Notre Dame, after two substandard seasons as Ty Willingham’s quarterback. Maybe Heaps can make a similar improvement.

But that’s a maybe.

Here’s a definite: In one of Weis’ three jobs — two of which he assigned to himself — Kansas football is performing better than at any time since such records have been tracked. Weis is head coach, offensive coordinator and academic liaison. The least-discussed area, the one that supposedly is the most important, is academics. Before Weis became coach, the football team’s highest grade-point average was 2.75. That figure has been bumped from first to fourth with GPA’s of, in order, 3.00, 2.83, 2.86. Piling — there I go again, excuse me — stacking those report cards on top of each other is a nice counter-punch to any rival coach looking to use another pile against Weis during recruiting visits.

You won’t read about that nationally because it’s not sexy news and it doesn’t fit anybody’s predetermined profile of a grumpy coach who made obnoxious, grandiose statements at the beginning of his tenure at Notre Dame.

Not only do the athletes’ grades look better, their bodies already do as well and many of those are bodies whose growth was set back for two years by a strength and conditioning program that left players rolling their eyes because it was primitive compared to the ones they experienced in college.

Drill sergeant Scott Holsopple, who built a sterling reputation working for Marquette basketball and Florida football, has made a big-time impact, just two springs and two summers into the job. The beer-league softball look, commonplace just a couple of years ago, has gone out of style.

Again, these gradual building blocks that don’t make for sexy copy, but do turn into steps away from losing and toward winning.

Kansas won just one game last year, but the players played hard for Weis, didn’t let a losing record turn them into losers. Wiser play-calling — Weis got away from running the ball against a Rice team that couldn’t stop the run, and the Texas and Texas Tech games included questionable decisions — played a hand in KU not winning a couple of more games, but the Jayhawks never looked like a team that didn’t give strong effort for their coach.

Weis didn’t always use the cleanest language to motivate players to play hard, so they were the least surprised of any group to hear him use the words he chose at Big 12 media day. That doesn’t excuse him choosing those words because opposing student sections will use them against him and the national media won’t let up.

But to obsess on two numbers (1 ... 11) and three words (pile ... of ... crap) without giving a mention to serious gains already made in three important areas (academics, recruiting and strength and conditioning) doesn’t come close to telling the whole story. Four or more victories in 2013 and six or more in 2014 will speak more loudly than three stinky words.

Comments

Adam McEwen 1 year, 3 months ago

I have faith in Charlie, he nearly won games last year with nothing. These hawks are gonna fly.

Jim Erickson 1 year, 3 months ago

I have faith in him over the long term but he may still need a couple years. 4 wins and a competitive team would elate me.

hawk316 1 year, 3 months ago

I'm a fan of Weis, as well. I believe he was a great hire and as Keegan has correctly pointed out, the man has already made significant strides in turning the KU football program around.

Having said that, I do think his "pile of crap" remark was ill-chosen. I will allow that he was referring to the team's performance, not to the personal value of the individuals on the field, but when the hearer has to parse a comment to try to figure out why it should not be considered personally insulting and derogatory, I would suggest that a better choice of words may be called for.

hawk316 1 year, 3 months ago

Ralster, thank you for the kind compliment. Let me make clear that I absolutely love Weis' uninhibited candor. I grow weary of political correctness and "coachspeak," so I find Weis' personality wonderfully refreshing.

I do understand that Weis was referring to the team's performance when using the "pile of crap" descriptive. And although you're correct to point out that a number of last year's players indicated that they were not offended, I still can't help but wonder if such a remark devalued the great effort, sweat and blood invested by these players, in spite of the poor won-lost record. With his remarks, the coach appears to be throwing his players under the bus.

Personally, I would probably paraphrase the comment by Weis by clearly stating that the results may have been crappy, but the players themselves and their dedicated effort were exemplary and greatly appreciated.

But to reiterate, I'm a fan of Coach Weis and believe that he's the right guy for the job. Like you, I'm thankful that he agreed to take on the huge challenge of turning the program around. I truly wish him the best.

DeutscherMist 1 year, 3 months ago

I agree completely. We didn't win any conference games last year, but at least we didn't have every single team trying to figure out what they could to STOP beating the crap out of us by half-time.

Brett McCabe 1 year, 3 months ago

Keegan does accurately point out that CW over-coached a few times last year - perhaps out of desperation. As the team grows more competitive, I'm hoping that this won't happen.

On the other hand, Charlie is Charlie. Part of what I loved last year was the go-for-broke attitude, which is a great way to build confidence among your players.

We received our tickets in the mail yesterday. Can't wait for kickoff.

Robert Brown 1 year, 3 months ago

Sometimes I think the LJW is Weis's media publicist. He seems to be doing the right things and hopefully we will see improvement on the field. Time will tell, but, you have to admit his track record is spotty as a college coach. ND did not end well and his offense in Florida was pretty anemic.

Too much of the Charlie Weis era so far, and it has been short, has been about Charlie and staying in the media. He brings in Crist which means he really expected to win last year and of course this was a story. Somehow he became a story when Penn State got sanctions when he embarrassingly indicated he might recruit some of their players. Somehow, he injects himself into the conversation when Notre Dame was successful last season and now he is back in the media again with his comment last week.

If he would just go about his job and stay out of the media, I would be much happier. I understand that he has a tough job, which is not totally Gill's fault even though Gill had to go.

Everyone here points to K-State as a model. To follow it would be to shy away from the media and just get to work. Bill Snyder says the same bland thing every time he addresses the media .. " our goal is to improve every day and if we do that we will be successful". I would rather see more blandness than Weis bravado.

Displayhawk 1 year, 3 months ago

I would rather see more wins than losses, and by saying what HCCW did, he put himself and KU into the national spotlight. As long as it isn't negative, I have no problem with him going public, because it will only help recruit better players to KU.

Robert Brown 1 year, 3 months ago

I don't understand how this helps recruit other players. It is not as if Weis has turned around recruiting. He went after JUCO players last year and ranking in the bottom half of the Big 12 in recruiting rankings

Micky Baker 1 year, 3 months ago

Ranking in the bottom half of the Big 12, but in the top 35 of the country... I don't see that as being a real big problem, given that some of his recruits did come from JUCO and were not given ratings that high school athletes would get.

vd 1 year, 3 months ago

As long as it isn't negative, I have no problem with him going public,

So saying "pile of crap" is not negative?

.

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Reply ↵ Suggest removal

okiedave 1 year, 3 months ago

Two thoughts:

(1) When a lawyer truthfully calls his client a "pile of crap" in the courtroom, I would assume that the ball game is pretty much over at that point. I wonder if Weis choice of words actually helped recruit a solid Big XII caliber player?

(2) Why is Wise going after kids of such low self perception that they are afraid that they are not good enough to get playing time. There is a reason they have low confidence -- probably not the kind of kids being recruited by Oklahoma or Texas.

actorman 1 year, 3 months ago

Okiedave, you make a good point about not wanting to recruit players who don't have the confidence that they'll be able to play. On the other hand, I think Weis's line has been blown WAY out of proportion. I don't really believe he's going into recruits' homes on a regular basis and saying that; I think it was more of a line that he threw in at the end of a press conference to get a laugh, and that if all other things are equal for a player it certainly doesn't hurt to emphasize that he'll be likely to get early playing time.

I've found the whole thing quite amusing, and I'm actually enjoying the attention that KU has been getting. Now I will add the caveat that if the wins don't come, my feelings about it will change quickly. But as long as the team makes progress on the field, I think this will just be an entertaining subchapter of the whole thing.

jhawkrulz 1 year, 3 months ago

Go check your history. Charlie Weis has been to two BCS games and won one. Let's name the Coaches in the Big XII that have more BCS bowl appearances...Stoops and Brown. That is pretty good company.

Now granted Gundy, Mangino, and Patterson all have one win, but let's not throw the gauntlet down on Charlie yet.

Charlie figured out very quickly that we didn't have a QB, how many good QBs are available in Jan for the following year. Charlie took a chance and there isn't one person that shouldn't be happy with that risk. Crist represented KU very well; we all wish it had tranlated on the field better, but please everyone should be happy he came here.

No one should be thinking that Bill Snyder is the way for KU, we don't model anything after them. The purple team has shown that they have lost more games than all but one in D-I history (Indiana). In addition, they have no sustainability after they lose the coach they have.

I'd rather HC Charlie Weis create a plan (which he has), move the program forward, and in 15-20 years have a strategy to hand over the program to the appropriate hands.

kidmarc 1 year, 3 months ago

For the record, let's just get this straight - Charlie did not inject himself into the conversation when Notre Dame was successful last season. It was the media coming to him about his former team. It is done all of the time when this happens. When Cincinnati went 12-0 with Brian Kelly his last year there, the media went to Mark Dantonio (former coach of Cincinnati), of Michigan State, to pose the same question that Charlie got regarding his former team. Dantonio wished them well as did Charlie considering they both had recruited the players on that "winning" team.

Dantonio was approached by Michigan State to bring the Pro-Set there after he recruited the talent Kelly had to work with. Weis was fired after he had recruited the talent Kelly had to work with there. In all cases except Grand Valley State, Kelly worked with the the turn-around / talent already in place. Only at Grand Valley State did Kelly actually recruit / turn around the team he had a "winning season/championship" with.

jaymar74 1 year, 3 months ago

We have got a number of players recently that were offered by other BCS programs rated much higher than KU. That did not happen in the past.

KGphoto 1 year, 3 months ago

That was a huge recruiting coup for Gill (actually I give credit to Reggie Mitchell, but he did hire Reggie). Weis has brought in defensive linemen who’ve been offered by the likes of LSU. Half the guys he recruited this year were offered by at least one major program. THAT has not happened.

Robert Brown 1 year, 3 months ago

Of course any BCS program is probably rated higher than KU's right now.

jhawkrulz 1 year, 3 months ago

I would throw in other Big XII, Big Ten, and especially SEC teams we have had people commit. Historically, we may have beat a Stanford or maybe a KSU or a Nebraska, but typically we are seeing Weis get some with multiple BCS interest and from more than one conference.

I think we still will have to find some diamonds 2 and 3 stars overperforming, but it seems like we are getting more interest from the high 3s and 4s now.

purplesage 1 year, 3 months ago

Wasn't there another coach at KU who, after he had a great season, followed by a not so great one, that got sent packing over his "language" - at least in part?

Robert Brown 1 year, 3 months ago

Different administration. The current AD hired Weis, so they are linked. If Weis fails, it looks bad for Zenger.

There is no place to go but up and we are in better shape this year than last year. Nationally, the hiring of Weis was widely panned. He is not going anywhere, so let's hope he is able to turn around the team. Two conference wins this year would be a step in the right direction.

Brad Farha 1 year, 3 months ago

You can't compare a self-deprecating remark (pile of crap -- that included coach in the assessment) to the comments that Mangino made. I was a huge fan and supporter of Mangino, but his attacks were on a different level.

Brett McCabe 1 year, 3 months ago

Mangino got kicked out of his own son's high school football game. He knew football, but hd clearly had some control issues.

actorman 1 year, 3 months ago

You said it, Rockn-Chalkn! As I mentioned in another post, there's a GIGANTIC difference between commenting on the overall lousy play of the team and making personal, highly offensive insults to individual players in front of the whole team. And that doesn't even get into the way that Mangino spoke to others such as support staff.

There's simply no comparison, and I'm sick of people acting like it's the same thing.

jay_cheese 1 year, 3 months ago

You can get all of the 4/5 stars in the world, won't make a thing a difference in the W column if they aren't coached up. If only Charlie could win as many games as he does press conferences (or just half). I stopped listening to his car salesman rhetoric and just watch the horrific on field results. I haven't been impressed by anything he's done and that certainly includes trashing the upperclassman in his program. Very unprofessional IMO.

jhawkrulz 1 year, 3 months ago

I wonder if trashing a head coach is considered unprofessional?

Brad Farha 1 year, 3 months ago

I went to every game last year, and I've made all but 4 games (family travel) over the past 9 years . The product on the field last year was far superior to what we saw in Gill's 2 years. I fully admit the W/L record doesn't indicate that, but our strength of schedule was off the charts last year. And the fight I saw in the 4th quarter of games we were losing vastly exceeded what Gill gave us. I love having Charlie on board, and I look forward to the progress over the next 4 (hopefully more) years.

actorman 1 year, 3 months ago

Very well said, ralster and Rockn Chalkn.

It's hard to believe that anyone could be as stupid as jay cheese, so I'm more inclined to think he's just another one of those trolls, that are so much less clever and more tiresome than they think they are.

Steve Reigle 1 year, 3 months ago

OK, I'm curious about something. What was the margin of losing score difference last season compared to each of Gill's seasons? In other words, in the games we lost, how much did we lose by on average? And how about the same for each of the Gill years.

Also, how many OT periods last season compared to the prior two seasons? That seems to me would indicate almost wins.

Just looking for more signs of progress.

jhawkrulz 1 year, 3 months ago

Does the loss to a Div II team only count as a loss by 3?

sports4life 1 year, 3 months ago

The average margin for the 2011 season with Gill was 28 pts, and for the 2012 season with Weis it was 21 pts. When you initially look at it, it's only one touchdown difference. But as it was Gill's second season, Gill should have been better than his first. Instead it was worse than his first year. Which in turn, you could make an argument that Gill was given a better team than Weis was. Another point to make is that Weis had five games where he lost by 7 points or less, and Gill only had 2. A surprising stat which I found was, in games we lost, Gill's 2011 team averaged 18 points per game, while Weis averaged 17 points. I had expected Gill to have a much better average in that aspect. I didn't look into the OT questions though. KUsports didn't show on their score page with games went into OT.

Robert Brown 1 year, 3 months ago

Just look at conference games because in both season we were 0-9. In Gill's last season for conference games, there were FIVE blow outs, three close and possible winnable games and one game that was not a blow-out, but the decision was not in doubt by the 4th quarter.

In Weis's season last year, there were FIVE blow outs (WV, ISA, Bay, OU and KSU), three games that were close possibly winnable and one game (TCU) that was not a blow-out, but the decision was not in doubt by the 4th quarter. The way we finished the season against ISU and WV was a problem.

That doesn't sound so different. Maybe the competition was a little better last year, but not significantly.

Brett McCabe 1 year, 3 months ago

Had we had Sims, both Rice and TCU were possible wins last year.

texashawk10 1 year, 3 months ago

The only OT game I can think of under Gill was the 2011 Baylor game where KU blew a 21 point 4th quarter lead against RG3.

jhawkrulz 1 year, 3 months ago

My Calculations...hopefully fairly accurate

            TG            Overall     2nd Yr         CW         Overall

Div II 1-1 +7.5 +18 1-0 +14

Ranked 1-8 -25.3 0-5 -22

OT 0-1 -1 0-1 -7

Home 5-8 -10.8 1-6 -6.6

Road 0-9 -30.7 -36.8 0-6 -29.6

Overall 5-19 -19 -21.4 1-11 -17.8

1 Possesion2-3 0-5

Big XII 1-16 -26.8 -26.2 0-9 -24.3

Big XII Road 0-7 -31.3 -35.5 0-5 -33.6

Big XII Home1-7 -24.25 -20 0-4 -13

Missouri 0-2 -21 -14 0-0 0

Brad Farha 1 year, 3 months ago

Well said ralster. Couldn't agree more. I have the same impression that you do, and I'm optimistic for the future.

speckleddog 1 year, 3 months ago

I will have faith in Charlie when he hires an offensive coordinator and not until then.

Andy Tweedy 1 year, 3 months ago

I'm no prophet, but I can honestly say I saw a great season coming in 2008, maybe not 12-1, but something really special for KU. It was because of the results in 2007, more about how close we were in the losses than how well we played in the wins. This leads me to 2013. I think this team proved last year that it wasn't that far away from competing against the bottom half of the Big XII, and I can certainly see a few more wins. But this team is not ready for prime time by any stretch. I really think there are some winnable games on the schedule this year. All the non-cons, and the TT, ISU, TCU games to name a few. But there's probably going to be some curb-stompings going on as well. I'll go 4-8 or 5-7, and I think that would be a really nice step forward. While I agree with some that Charlie is far from perfect, he had an easy act to follow in Gill! That alone should buy him some time.

JayHawkFanToo 1 year, 3 months ago

You forgot field goal kicking: non-existent.

JayHawkFanToo 1 year, 3 months ago

"Weis didn’t always use the cleanest language to motivate players to play hard, so they were the least surprised of any group to hear him use the words he chose at Big 12 media day. That doesn’t excuse him choosing those words because opposing student sections will use them against him and the national media won’t let up."

I am a pretty avid fan and I read the major sports publications daily. The press reported on HC Weis's words for a few days, as it rightly should, and then it moved on to real news. I am having trouble figuring out what is Keegan talking about when he claims that "the national media won't let up." Other than this story, which I would not qualify as "national media," I have not read any thing on this subject for many days. Maybe if Keegan stops bringing it up, it could move to the "scrap pile of news" (flag me 15 yards) where it belongs.

Randy Bombardier 1 year, 3 months ago

It seems like there is a lot of hand-wringing going on. I don't know why the catches that we have made from the JUCO ranks need to be put down. Don't get that at all. Wait til you see some of these guys play. We are going to win quite a few games. I believe we will win at least 6 and that this year will, as someone mentioned above, be our '06 team which set up the Orange Bowl squad. Next year we won't be quite the surprise though. Is it possible that we can take the conference by storm? Heck yeah. I appreciate the article and especially the candor about HCCW making some flaky play-calling.

Matt Spitzli 1 year, 3 months ago

I mean, they were a pile of crap. That's how they've played for awhile now. Everyone knows it. We know it, the players know it. I'm a liberal, but this PC stuff is just way overboard. "Pile of crap" sums up what our program has been about as well as any other phrase.

Bryce Landon 1 year, 3 months ago

I want to believe that Weis will turn the program around, but I hope that he has a QB that can actually perform. We all drank the Dayne Crist Kool-Aid thinking that he would lead this team to a bowl game, and we all know how that worked out. We need Jake Heaps to prove that he is a legit QB. If Heaps proves to be a bust like every QB we've had since Todd Reesing graduated, then we have to wonder if Weis is truly the right man for this job.

Brett McCabe 1 year, 3 months ago

We also have two (I think) freshman qb's on the way. A lot is riding on Heaps' shoulders. If the OL can perform, the four horsemen at rb will definitely help take the pressure off.

milehighhawk 1 year, 3 months ago

Yawn.

Non-issue. Not on Zenger's radar. Wouldn't have gotten ANY play had it not been the slowest sports period of the year.

Arbuckle Smith 1 year, 3 months ago

Can't wait to see the new T Shirt,,,,,,KU Football....with a nice picture of a pile of crap,,,,lovely

rastameta 1 year, 3 months ago

Keegan, this is by far the best article you have ever written with regards to KU Football. It is on the money. Kudos.

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