Those wondering if Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis has been around long enough to understand fully the importance of the Sunflower Showdown rivalry with Kansas State need look no farther than Tuesday’s news conference, where Weis demonstrated genuine and prolonged enthusiasm for his second go-around with the Wildcats.
One exchange in particular showed just how locked in on this week’s opponent Weis was. After being asked if a rough performance like the one Montell Cozart had last week in Ames, Iowa, could be good for a young quarterback to experience, Weis made it clear he was done talking about KU’s 34-0 loss to the Cyclones and wanted only to emphasize Saturday’s 11 a.m. season finale at Memorial Stadium.
“Where?” Weis asked with a tilt of his head and a hint of sarcasm when the word Ames was uttered. “It’s K-State week. Let’s talk about K-State. It’s K-State week. We are talking about K-State. But if you want to ask a hypothetical, I’m more than happy to answer.”
And he did.
“No, it’s never good,” said Weis about Cozart’s bad outing potentially being a positive. “There’s never a time when that’s good. Will it be a learning experience? Yes. But you’re gonna have a tough time getting me to ever say, ‘When you play bad, that’s good.’ Just like when I coach bad. I can’t say, ‘Well ... .’ When you’re bad, you’re bad. There’s nothing good about it.”
Of course, this week’s game — 11 a.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium — is bigger than one player, one position and one hypothetical situation. And it has been for more than 100 years.
The Jayhawks and Wildcats first met back in 1902, and although Weis has been a part of just one of the 109 meetings since then, he has taken steps to emphasize the Sunflower Showdown like never before.
“When Missouri left to go to the SEC, I think it was time for Kansas to recognize that Kansas State is, without a doubt, the most important game of the year,” Weis said. “I think (KSU) coach (Bill) Snyder has done that for years. I think it’s important for Kansas, and the Kansas football program, to treat the game with equal billing to what they do.
“(It’s) bragging rights in state,” he began. “It’s when you walk into the grocery market with someone who roots for the other team, and you get the last jab. When you’re at work, and one of your compadres comes up that you know is a K-State fan or a Kansas fan, it’s all those things. So you’re not playing just for your football team and your student body, (you’re playing) for all those people who go into work on Monday and have an opportunity to take shots. Most of the time we’ve been receiving the shots. It would be really nice to walk into work on Monday, for most people, and be able to fire the shots instead of taking them.”