Friday, September 12, 2014

Duke trip reunion of sorts for KU’s Weis

Kansas football coach Charlie Weis, left, and Duke coach David Cutcliffe

Kansas football coach Charlie Weis, left, and Duke coach David Cutcliffe


His focus, undoubtedly, will be on doing everything he can to help Kansas University football snap its 27-game road losing streak this weekend in Durham, North Carolina.

But you’ll have to excuse KU coach Charlie Weis if he views the moments leading up to KU’s showdown with Duke — 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Wallace Wade Stadium, FOX Sports Midwest Plus — as a bit of a reunion.

See, not only does Weis have history with his counterpart standing on the other sideline — Duke head coach David Cutcliffe — but he also holds special memories of Duke’s athletic director, Kevin White, and father of Duke wide receiver Max McCaffrey, Ed, whom Weis coached when the senior McCaffrey, a three-time Super Bowl champion (New York and Denver twice), broke into the NFL with the New York Giants.

“I’m going to have to look him up before the game and tell him some stories about his dad,” Weis joked earlier this week.

There was no light-hearted tone in Weis’ voice when it came to comments he made about Cutcliffe and White. Clearly, the third-year KU coach likes and respects both men, one whom Weis hired to join his staff at Notre Dame and the other who brought Weis to Notre Dame in the first place.

“Probably one of the finest men that I’ve ever met in my entire life,” Weis said of White, who served as AD at Notre Dame from 2000-08. “He taught me a lot about college football. He taught me patience. When I went into Notre Dame, we talked about taking a five-year cycle to really get us back to where we wanted to be. And it’s funny: When I sit there and look at what’s happening with coach Cutcliffe at Duke, it almost mirrors the conversation that I had when I went into Notre Dame.”

Shortly after Weis was hired by White in 2005, Weis, the former New England Patriots offensive coordinator, reached out to Cutcliffe about joining his staff. The initial idea was for Cutcliffe to sign on as Notre Dame’s quarterbacks coach, but Weis had bigger plans.

“I was looking for somebody I could turn the offense over to, and I thought David was one of the best minds out there,” Weis said. “Not only was he well schooled with the quarterback position, which is his reputation, but I thought he’d be a perfect person to hand over the offense to because of his mind and his ability as a play-caller.”

The marriage never happened, as Cutcliffe accepted the job but resigned before really getting started after suffering a heart attack and having triple-bypass surgery.

Cutcliffe was out of football for all of 2005 and he rejoined the Tennessee coaching staff in 2006 and 2007 (he previously worked at Tennessee from 1982-98 and helped develop Peyton Manning into one of college and professional football’s greats). In 2008, the former Ole Miss head coach took the head job at Duke, where he has racked up a 33-44 record in six-plus seasons.

“What he’s done there is what I would expect him to do anywhere,” Weis said. “Just about anywhere he’s gone, he’s been able to get things going in the right way, especially offensively. He’s a very, very good coach.”

The feeling appears to be mutual.

“He’s really, really brilliant,” Cutcliffe said of Weis. “He’s a coach that understands, thoroughly, every aspect of the game. ... He’s really committed to it. Loves to watch tape. Spends a lot of time. Their preparation will be extremely thorough. They will know you right and left, front and back. Their attention to detail is outstanding.”


Joe Ross 5 years, 10 months ago

You know, Im not quite satisfied with the progress Weis has made (dissatisfaction is an admirable trait for any level of success in college sports), but Im not quite dissatisfied with it either. My gut when I read this said to me that Charlie Weis is a pretty good guy. But on that score Turner Gill was a pretty good guy as well, though the lack of progress turned feelings sour toward him. Fans want to see the program moving ahead. Weis is scrambling to make things better, but he's doing so in methodical fashion. So what does any of this have to do with the article? Well it seems to me that Weis often speaks well of those with whom he's shared football experiences, a la Cutcliffe, McCaffrey, and White. It also seems to me that perhaps when he's hung up the whistle and put down the clipboard, many people will speak well of him as a man who loved the game and inspired others to love it too. There is something about Ol' Charlie that you WANT to like, even if the team meets with variable success.

Let's get a win at Duke though.

Erich Hartmann 5 years, 10 months ago

Joe, good comments. While I agree that Turner Gill was a "good guy" as a man and certainly in the spiritual sense (common knowledge Gill was a man of faith/god), I will say he was not a football mind like Weis is. And it can be argued that Weis has an on-camera persona that he has cultivated for public consumption, but behind the scenes can be occasionally salty. He is, after all, an old-ball style coach. No different than Bill Self (on camera persona vs practice facility persona and heat-of-battle persona), or Bill Snyder (calm, reserved on-camera demeanor, but a ultrafocused, competetive guy off camera, and maybe more locker-room language off camera than Bill Self). It is no secret that Snyder has little patience, and also absolutely hates KU...and this is reflected by the KSU fanbase, of course...(but that's ok, as thats all they have...tsk, tsk).

I personally feel Weis is frustrated, but the events that led to him having to dismiss 30ish players off the roster when he arrived is something that gives a program repercussions for at least 3-4 years, as any logical mind would appreciate, when looking at the collegiate timeframe. Gill (&Lew) destroyed KU football, and Weis started with a 'gutted' restoration project.

Whether fans like Weis personally or not, I feel a true football mind needs to be given the old-fashioned "5yrs". I still shudder at the memory of a stone-faced, expressionless Gill after that Missouri defeat, which was typical of Gill losses...and the clueless rambling in the press conferences were simply painful and embarrassing to watch. Let me put it another way: the ku coach prior to Weis was no Mike Tomlin or Lovie Smith, either of whom I'd welcome as competent, tough, head coaches ANY day, NCAA or NFL.

This season will be determined by Oline, Dline, and injuries.

Joe Ross 5 years, 10 months ago

While recruits' decisions are heavily influenced by their recruiters, ultimately the final decision is theirs. They factor in many more things than just the coach. Location, tradition of program, perceptions about getting a shot at the next level, etc. It's hard to blame a coach for decisions which are not totally within his control, especially if he is not lazy on the recruiting trail. Having said that, I absolutely agree with your fourth and sixth paragraphs above. In addition, I also agree with the agony under Gill expressed by Erich above. His words encapsulate the sentiments perfectly. At least under Weis we don't have to deal with any of that!

Al Martin 5 years, 10 months ago

Joe, I basically agree, with one caveat. I thought we were getting a more finished product when we hired Charlie. He’s had a good bit more learning on the job than I expected. For example, our offense has been shockingly bad given his reputation.

To his credit, though, he has learned on the job, and has been willing to make substantial changes to correct faults. He seems like a genuinely nice guy, he’s cleaned up the academics on the team, and every change he’s made seems sensible. I DO want to like him. Here’s hoping the end product comes around...

Jerry Tompkins 5 years, 10 months ago

What the dickens is "FOX Sports Midwest Plus?" Is that channel 22 on Cox Cable?

Erich Hartmann 5 years, 10 months ago

Ive been at Memorial Stadium for several games per season during Weis' first 2 seasons, and I've seen the old-ball coach Weis literally booming on the sidelines as he had his frustrated offensive unit huddled around him, after a particularly inept series...I was way up in the 47th row on the 50yd line...and we started hearing yelling on the sidelines, then there was some localized cheering and applause by the fans right by that scene, then everybody became aware Weis was chewin'azz (well-deserved), and you could see the fans supported that.

Let the man do whatever it takes, and give him the time to do it. The 'art' of coaching is, of course, to balance the fire & brimstone with a caring, fatherly side...and that is simply up to professional, experienced coaches to master and employ appropriately & timely. Bill Self is a great example of someone who does this masterfully. I think Weis is similar. Honestly, I think Weis would rather spend less time in front of camera, and more time working with his football team--as echoed by every coaching professional (like Duke's coach in the story) that knows Weis. I believe we have a good coach, and I hope growing success soon finds Weis and his KU team. RCJH

Ray Winger 5 years, 10 months ago

EH...Rock-On!! Absolutely right. I remember a few times Roy Williams would throw his jacket into the stands, before bending forward with flames coming out of his ears, and explicit directives given to players.

Jim Jackson 5 years, 10 months ago

I concur with the aforementioned statements. We've got the right recipe for success, just need to execute better on the field. Looking forward to tomorrow's match up.

Brian Zachary 5 years, 10 months ago

Great comments today. I love the theme of patience. We have to stay the course for now. An example of patience paying off is the Royals. I often have questioned Ned Yost and his decisions but because the organization has finally been consistent, they are paying dividends on the field. I think the same will happen at KU. If Coach Weis wants to really be here, let him coach.

Dale Rogers 5 years, 10 months ago

Re your last sentence, my thought is Weis hopes to be here until Charlie Jr. is ready to take the helm. It may be Jr. will still be too young but, from what I'm hearing, he must have the makings of a quality future coach.

Dale Rogers 5 years, 10 months ago

It's really good to see some positive thoughts in these comments. That seems to be rare these days. It's only year 3 and some progress, albeit slow progress, has been shown in each of the past two seasons. I'm on the bandwagon that says give Weis time, so long as some progress is shown each season. I read an article yesterday in the Topeka paper's online edition that pointed out that Cutcliffe's success in turning around the Duke program has taken far more than two seasons.

The article was about Charlie Weis' familiarity with the Duke coach and what he's done for that program. Here is a Weis' quote from that article"

“I know in Years 3 and 4 they won three games,” Weis said. “Was he lighting the world on fire at that time? What he did was he put in a plan and he recruited and recruited and recruited. He got guys he can get into Duke, which is not the easiest thing to do. He stuck to a plan, had support from the administration and didn’t waiver. Then all of the sudden in Year 6, they win 10. That’s the way it happens a lot of times with a program that just hasn’t done too well.”

Jason Musick 5 years, 10 months ago

Kansas needs a road Victory. If Kansas loses a this road game. They need to fire the person who scheduled this game. My philosophy and the person who scheduled this game are totally different. I want 3 non conference victories. We need victories early in the year. When we fire this scheduler and Coach Weis. We need to redo any difficult games that we have no chance on winning in the future. .

Aaron Paisley 5 years, 10 months ago

Mangino is the one who scheduled this game back in 2006.

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