After coaching football for 34 years at the high school level, Gene Wier is up for a new challenge.
Wier was one of the first people added to Kansas University football coach David Beaty’s new staff, as director of high school relations.
Now he’s trading his spot on the sidelines for an off-the-field role.
“High school relations is just that,” Wier said. “It’s not a trumped-up position to get another body into the complex. (Beaty is) a true believer in high school coaches. He was one himself.”
Wier’s main responsibilities will be talking with high school coaches during the season and running clinics and camps with those coaches during the offseason.
He first met Beaty when he went to coach at Richland High in Fort Worth, Texas, in 2003. They were in the same Dallas-Fort Worth area and have a circle of friends that overlapped.
Before and after his time in Texas, Wier was one of the top coaches in Kansas. He led Olathe North to the state semifinals last season, losing to eventual Class 6A champion Shawnee Mission East in overtime. In his time at Olathe North, he racked up a 188-36 record and six state titles. He went 42-51 in nine seasons at Richland.
Now the 66-year-old is ready to move away from the field and help in different ways. Wier said it only took a “very brief” conversation with Beaty to convince him to take this job, and he’s excited to work with a Big 12 program.
“It’s probably a good time for me to do it in my career,” Wier said. “Probably 20 years ago wouldn’t be a good time because it’s off the field. But right now, it’s a good time for me. I couldn’t be more excited. As I tell everybody, when I go into the meeting room, I’ve got the biggest smile out of anybody.”
The Jayhawks have high hopes of setting up a strong walk-on program for the team. With the success of nearby Div. II schools, such as Northwest Missouri State, Pittsburg State and Missouri Western State, Wier believes there are a lot of kids who could make an impact at Kansas.
“My thing is, Kansas kids aren’t quite as developed due to some of the limitations,” Wier said. “But they go to these places, and two years later, they’re Div. I kids that are playing Div. II football. That’s one target of ours is that we identify those kids and try to get them preferred-walk-on status for a while or develop some situations where we can help them later on.”
Wier noted the “general apathy” around the state regarding Kansas football, and he says it’s his job to start changing that and make KU an attractive option for high schoolers looking to play Div. I football.
“I think just the fact that coach Beaty created this position to begin with speaks volumes about how he feels about high school coaches,” Wier said, “because this position is truly high school relations. It’s not something to push me on the field at some point. This is my job and my responsibility to do this.”