At this time last year, many of the coaches and even a few of the players in the Kansas University football locker room were new to Lawrence and new to the KU fan base.
Hard to believe, isn't it?
It sure doesn't that seem that way. Maybe it's just the desire to be the debacle that was the Turner Gill Era in the past or maybe it's the personality and presence that the new crew possesses. Either way, it seems as if head coach Charlie Weis and company have been in town for a lot longer than 15 months. And I'm not the only one that feels that way.
“It does a little bit,” said KU quarterbacks coach Ron Powlus when I asked him if it felt like he'd been around longer than one season. “Because we've invested so much here. And not just in this building but my family and being in town. I mean, we love being a part of this community and this campus.”
Therein lies one of the biggest reasons that even though the record looked worse the first year of the Weis era was an absolute success. Never did Gill truly seem like a part of the community. Never did he seem to have genuine pride in KU or the program. That's not a knock. It's the truth. And it's not that way for Weis.
Weis, a man with homes, ties and connections in many different areas of the country, already has made it clear that Lawrence and KU are important to him and his family. He brought his son with him and moved his annual Hannah & Friends golf tournament to nearby Firekeeper Golf Course just months after arriving in town — that's scheduled for late June and should be a blast, by the way. In addition, when he's not out recruiting, Weis is a regular at KU basketball games. And he's not just there. He's into it. He puts off the same vibe about KU's other sports through his Twitter feed by routinely commenting on and congratulating the women's basketball, volleyball and track and field teams.
When it comes to football, Weis' staff routinely follows his lead down whatever path he sees fit. So maybe that's one of the biggest reasons that the beginning of Year 2 feels more like the beginning of Year 5. Either way, these guys are comfortable here and that can only help the program move forward.
“I do feel like I've been here (a while) but it becomes obvious that I haven't when I don't know a lot of people yet,” Powlus said. “We're still learning people and meeting people and it's great. It's a welcoming community, both on campus in athletics and in the community. We feel like we've been here forever and we'd love to stay here forever.”