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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Speculation about Weis’ future quietly took toll on Jayhawks

Kansas head coach Charlie Weis walks off the field as the Jayhawks warm up prior to kickoff against Texas on Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas head coach Charlie Weis walks off the field as the Jayhawks warm up prior to kickoff against Texas on Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014 at Memorial Stadium.

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Anyone who thinks that the uncertainty surrounding former Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis' future with the program had no impact on the players themselves during the past couple of weeks, would be wise to pay attention to the recent actions of senior cornerback JaCorey Shepherd.

On Sept. 19, shortly after the Jayhawks' final walk-through one day before they took on Central Michigan at home, the normally soft-spoken Shepherd asked a KU staff member for permission to call a player's-only meeting that he hoped would tighten up the team's focus.

“It was just me basically saying we've gotta play for ourselves,” Shepherd told the Journal-World on Saturday night shortly after KU's 23-0 loss to Texas and less than 24 hours before Weis was relieved of his post as the Jayhawks' head coach. “We can't worry about what's going on on the outside and we can't let that dictate our play. You can't let what's going on with the head coach situation affect you, especially when you're out there playing.”

Reader poll

Who should replace Charlie Weis as KU football coach?

  • Clint Bowen: Interim KU head coach, defensive coordinator 25% 746 votes
  • John Reagan: KU offensive coordinator 0% 24 votes
  • Ed Warinner: Ohio State co-offensive coordinator, offensive line coach 12% 362 votes
  • David Beaty: Texas A&M receivers coach, recruiting coordinator 8% 254 votes
  • Tim Beck: Nebraska offensive coordinator 1% 54 votes
  • Eric Kiesau: KU receivers coach 0% 10 votes
  • Dave Doeren: N.C. State head coach 9% 277 votes
  • Jim Leavitt: San Francisco 49ers linebackers coach 8% 239 votes
  • Chad Morris: Clemson offensive coordinator 2% 69 votes
  • Butch Davis: Former NFL and college coach 3% 96 votes
  • Mark Mangino: Iowa State offensive coordinator, tight ends coach 17% 511 votes
  • Other: Suggest another name in the comments 7% 228 votes

2870 total votes.

Shepherd said he was the only one to talk at the short meeting and added that his teammates seemed to respond well to the message, which included a very clear indication by Shepherd of what his final 10 games as a Jayhawk would be about.

“Me, personally, I'm playing for y'all, my brothers,” he told them. “I'm playing for my family and I'm playing for this university.”

Shepherd said different groups of players within the KU locker room handled the ongoing speculation about Weis' future in different ways. Some were fully supportive of Weis. Others had mixed feelings. And still more operated in the manner that they did not have to like their head coach but they were going to respect him. Regardless of which players felt which way, Shepherd said the meeting was important to remind everyone of why they were at Kansas.

“We're playing a game and we all have dreams of playing on the next level or are playing football for an education,” he said. “So why should it matter what's going on with the head coach?”

Backed by some of the most emotion they've shown so far this season, the Jayhawks defeated Central Michigan, 24-10, on the strength of a strong fourth quarter, their best since the opening quarter of the season opener. Shepherd said the outcome brought him and his teammates a lot of pride but added that it remained tough for some to focus.

“It's hard, man,” he said. “It's hard.”

Asked how he thought his teammates would respond to a change in leadership during the season, Shepherd sounded upbeat.

“Hopefully we'll respond in a positive way,” he said. “That's really all we can do.”

Comments

David A. Smith 7 years ago

Well done, Jacorey! Thanks for the hard work! Rock Chalk forever!

Erich Hartmann 7 years ago

This whole saga is sad all the way around...for the players, the coaches, Weis, and for us fans and alumni. As always, I feel for the players, as they are going thru it worse than any of us fans/alums ever could (just like when KU bball gets bounced out of March Madness).

Much of football IS about craftiness (& not foolhardiness) regarding playcalling from the sidelines...What almost seems unfair is the blame Cozart is getting, but he started the last last few games of last season, and he's had a full off season with most of the receivers...you'd think they'd be on the same page.

But then everybody has a new offense to learn this year...

Erich Hartmann 7 years ago

But maybe the players had an idea, as Zenger and his lieutenants began asking around about the program regarding Weis...and I just saw somewhere recently that Weis had/has been falling asleep in meetings, who knows...maybe from burning the midnight oil trying to brainstorm, or maybe because he isnt as young as he once was...

Very unfortunate turn of events. But KU football simply needs to be able to be competetive in the BigXII. We will be shown the door & be out in the cold the next time conference-realignment comes up again, if we arent competetive in football.

Lance Hobson 7 years ago

Word on the streets was that the football royalty around Lawrence (boosters, former elite players, etc) were not at all happy with Weis, and that's putting it mildly. The players shouldn't have worried about the pressure their coach was under, he's made and will make more money than any of them ever will.

Next subject, can we just admit Perkins' failuare and offer Mangino the job? He did build our program back to excellence, including christening the incredible new facilities we have.

Chayse Patrick 7 years ago

KU doesn't want Mangino!! Period. and at least for the rest of the season KU has their man. A man that has been around KU football for at least 18 years to some capacity. And a man that bleeds red and blue with more passion than gill and weis and mangino combined. Let's get on the Bowen bandwagon and maybe just maybe Zenger won't have to leave Lawrence to find it's new head coach!!! Rock Chalk baby!! Get er done Clint!!!

Raymond Wright 7 years ago

Hopefully Bowen can get it done. I really don't have much faith in his ability as a head coach though. Please prove me wrong Clint.

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