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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Keegan

Column: Red flags appeared at Weis’ introduction

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Sheahon Zenger has an adviser and a nationwide committee helping him this time, but the choice of the next Kansas University football coach officially still will be made by the athletic director who for his first hire swung for the fences and missed so badly he drilled himself into a bunker.

A look back at history generally helps in not dooming oneself to repeat it. A close look back at the Charlie Weis introductory news conference revealed some red flags.

“Ten days ago, I stood in this room and told the football team I was going to hit the road and find the best football coach for the University of Kansas,” Zenger said before Weis spoke. “I set out to find the best. I found Charlie Weis.”

I wanted to play on the PGA Tour. I have a 22 handicap. Forgive the digression. I have no idea what made me think of that.

“We’ve had several coaching changes in recent years,” Zenger said. “The chancellor and I didn’t feel like we needed a jump start. We believed that we needed a power surge. That power surge is coach Weis.”

Athletic directors should not make football hires in unison with chancellors or university presidents whose expertise is at the academic end of a university.

Mike Leach was hired by the Washington State athletic director and was told he would be working for the AD. He did not have to undergo a joint interview.

Looking back at the news conference, Weis said something that opened a window as to why he went 6-22.

“I’m not the greatest coach in the world,” Weis said. “I’m just an old ball coach. That’s what I am. I was groomed under Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick, OK, and the way I figure it, they’re both going to the Hall of Fame so why should I try to reinvent the wheel? Why not copycat what they do?”

Because college football is all about identifying the right athletes to recruit, projecting what they’ll look like, learn like and play like once taught on the practice field and in the weight room. Developing players by putting the best against the best in practice is how it’s done. In the NFL, it’s all about scheming and changing those schemes every week in order to gain tactical advantages. Not as much individual teaching of technique takes place because the players arrive closer to finished products.

Looking into a crystal ball with the hope of how his Kansas career would turn out, Weis spoke honestly: “You want Utopia? I’ve said this to both chancellor (Bernadette Gray-Little) and to Dr. Zenger, Utopia is me walking away from here a bunch of years from now, you get rid of one Charlie Weis and you hire another a lot cheaper.”

The room chuckled inappropriately. Weis was not joking. He wanted to use his time at Kansas to launch his son Charlie Jr.’s coaching career in a big way. It’s a huge part of what made the job seem attractive to him. That and the $12.5 million he was guaranteed.

Weis was asked how the experience at Notre Dame prepared him for his second stretch as a head coach.

“When you’re a first-time head coach you really know what you want to do, you really know what you want to say, but sometimes when you say it, you sit there and say, ‘Why did I say that or why did I say it that way?’ You really look back and reflect and say you know that was a really stupid thing to do,” Weis said with a hint of professorial wisdom, New Jersey style. “As you get older and more experienced and think about that, even though your message was right, your presentation was way off. And I think being older and more polished about what you’re doing, it makes it a heck of a lot easier to say the same thing, but say it a little bit differently.”

Nice answer. And Weis did have a chance to display the refinement that comes with age when he was asked in 2013 about his recruiting approach coming off a 1-11 season. A younger, more impulsive Weis from his Notre Dame days might have said something regrettable, such as, “Everyone wants to play. There’s no one that wants to not play. So I said, ‘Have you looked at that pile of crap out there? Have you taken a look at that?’ So if you don’t think you can play here, where do you think you can play? It’s a pretty simple approach. That’s not a sales pitch. That’s practical. You’ve seen it, right? Unfortunately, so have I.”

Instead, with the aging process and the wisdom that comes with that, what he said as Kansas coach was, “Everyone wants to play. There’s no one that wants to not play. So I said, ‘Have you looked at that pile of crap out there? Have you taken a look at that?’ So if you don’t think you can play here, where do you think you can play? It’s a pretty simple approach. That’s not a sales pitch. That’s practical. You’ve seen it, right? Unfortunately, so have I.”

Comments

Andy Tweedy 7 years, 11 months ago

The last two hires make me mad!!! And the hindsight is 20-20 stuff isn't helping me get my happy back on...

Kevin Robert Fest 7 years, 11 months ago

Charlie Weis has always been an arrogant pompus egotistical jerk. He basically covered all those at the opening press conference. I never liked the hire and it doesn't take long to see I was right.

Unfortunately for the next coach the players on the team he will inheret are not that good some are but most just aren't. There was an article posted last week about how little the the 2013 recruiting class yeilded. The team has no depth no talent at the important areas so many coaching changes the team needs name tags for the coaches AND the university wants to find ANOThER coach. Just stick with Bowen please!! Why go with a new coach from another program and start all over AGAIN!! How will another coach from another program be better. Bowen knows the team the culture and they know him. Why start from scratch again.

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 11 months ago

A couple of statements in your post stood out to me. The being that there is minimal talent on the roster and I'll add minimal as well since KU only has 60 something scholarship players on roster right now. The second statement is why bring in someone other than Bowen because KU is going to have to start over again.

Because of the JuCo recruiting Weis did, KU is going to be starting over even if Bowen keeps the job. It's going to take a full 4-5 years just to rebuild KU's regardless of who the coach is.

Doug Cramer 7 years, 11 months ago

Aaron - you ask "why bring someone in other than Bowen...It's going to take full 4-5 years just to rebuild KU regardless of who the coach is"

I'll be glad to answer that...

because 4-5 years from now when Bowen is released of his duties, we don't want to still be saying that it will take 4-5 years to build the program back up.

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 11 months ago

Doug, you're amazing at taking statements out of context. A little reading comprehension goes a long ways.

Kevin made a couple of statements that appear to contradict each other. He first said that KU has no talent coming back and I added about the depth. Kevin then said KU should hire Bowen so that KU doesn't have to start over in recruiting.

All I did was point out that because of the depth situation, KU is starting over no matter who gets the job so that those two statements contradict one another.

If you want some evidence on how full of crap you, go and read my opinion on the coaching search. It's out there on various articles and I agree with Joe Ross on the situation. Do the due diligence in the coaching search, if Bowen's the best fit then hire him and if he's not the best fit, then move on.

We all know your opinion on the situation and it's not going to happen no matter how much you want it to happen.

Marc Anthony 7 years, 11 months ago

Red flags appear whenever Keegan puts 'pen to paper'.

Peace

Suzi Marshall 7 years, 11 months ago

22 Handicap!! How in the world can you be in the reporting business. Even the President of the US, who has several global and domestic crises on his plate plays a better game than you!.

Titus Canby 7 years, 11 months ago

Funny last two paragraphs. Thanks for the laugh, Tom.

Rick McGowwan 7 years, 11 months ago

FWIW, Zenger has told a few donors that he realized Weiss was a mistake only a few weeks after this conference was held.

As far as Bowen, he does know the culture, but that's not a good enough reason to keep him. One of several measuring sticks I like to use is "who else would hire or interview him?" Which other P5 program would hire CB? None. He is an energetic and devoted coach that simply is not ready for a P5 gig. I think one day he will be, but he's not yet.

Also, to act as if he doesn't hold some of the responsibility, along with other long-time staff members, is ignoring reality. Weiss holds the lion's share, and rightfully so, but CB had things under his control, including the "D" and it just hasn't performed that well. We were "average" according to rankings going into the Baylor game. By the time Oklahoma, TCU, and K-State are done playing us our "D" ranking is going to plummet from average to bad. Not good results for the D-coordinator.

Please hire a program builder who has done it before. We are starting over, and should treat this like the first year of FBall we have ever played.

Jerry Walker 7 years, 11 months ago

I've never been water-boarded. But I suspect that the process and agony are similar to reading a Keegan article.

Mike Barnhart 7 years, 11 months ago

Red flag coming in the last sentence. Wait for it...

From about 2005 through the Orange Bowl in 2008, our defense was very impressive. They were a very aggressive and disciplined group that seldom made mistakes. Then, Bill Young left and Clint Bowen was promoted to dc.

Bryce Landon 7 years, 11 months ago

And why did Young leave? I suspect because he was tired of putting up with Mangino's bully tactics.

Waylon Cook 7 years, 11 months ago

Is hindsight really 20/20 with this? NEITHER OF THESE WERE GOOD HIRES BEFORE THEY CAME TO KU. Harbaugh deal was botched, LEW WENT FOR THE GRANDSLAM and almost got it. He panicked thought maybe Gil would be the next coming like the media wanted him to be. Most knew beating Ball State didn't make you a Big 12 caliber coach(you think Osborne would have let the native son pass by when NU hired psycho if he saw something in Gil?)

Weis was a horrible hire. I remember stating that recruiting at ND was him driving around on a golf cart showing off his Super Bowl rings. Anyone remember when JaMarcus Russell got paid due to blowing out ND? That was Weis in a nutshell(only he had much more talent than he had in the cupboard at KU).

In Zengers defense, Fedora, Leach, Jones, Crist having really set the world afire. Malzahn may have only been here a year but damn it woulda been 3.5 mill well spent!

Fritz may not be the sexiest but at this point I think he is a guy who can get us 7-9 wins a year and damn after the last 5 that would be spectacular! I do look for some high level assistants to want this job. KU isn't a dead end job we just have made some mistakes in hiring.

Bryce Landon 7 years, 11 months ago

I never had a problem with Weis' "pile of crap" comment, b/c it was true. Unfortunately, he didn't do anything to clean it up.

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