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Monday, April 20, 2015

Keegan

Column: Blame Weis for ’15 struggles

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So little depth at so many positions combined with a brutal schedule puts the Kansas University football team in danger of going 0-12 in 2015.

And the shame of that is that the players on the roster and the new coaching staff will get pinned with the blame. In reality, it’s the previous coach’s quick-fix approach, coupled with the abundance of players who were either bad at life, bad at football, or both, who are to blame.

The current players are the ones who stuck it out on the football field and in the classroom when so many others with whom they were recruited were either too lazy, too irresponsible, ill-equipped for the classroom or didn’t have nearly enough talent to play at Kansas and transferred or were dismissed. Others’ football careers ended for health reasons.

The 2012 and 2013 recruiting classes are to blame for the underdog-every-week (at least for the final 11 games) season that awaits the Jayhawks.

In those two years, Charlie Weis recruited 27 junior-college transfers, six transfers from Div. I schools and 18 high school recruits.

A stunning 37 percent of the recruits from Weis’ first two classes left the program before using up their eligibility. Many of those never played a down for Kansas.

Weis’ transfer-heavy approach to recruiting was designed to set up a break-even-or better 2014 season that would have given Weis leverage in the area of the main two reasons he took the job at Kansas: money and launching his son’s coaching career. He would have tried to leverage the big season into a contract extension, probably for two more years, and into a full-time coaching position on the 2015 staff for Charlie Weis Jr., who on his own merit landed an entry-level job in Nick Saban’s program at Alabama.

The plan blew up because so many of the transfers either fell far short of Weis’ expectations or quit, flunked out or ran afoul of the law. Weis was fired four games into a season in which Kansas finished 3-9, three victories shy of bowl-eligibility.

Now the new coaching staff will try to win games with three returning starters on offense, two returning defensive starters, a woeful lack of depth and an estimated 69 players who originally came to Kansas on scholarship. FBS schools are allowed to carry 85 scholarships but must cap each season’s scholarship total to a maximum of 25. (Loopholes sometimes allow programs to count scholarships toward previous or following class, which explains how Weis had 27 players in his first class).

The transfer-centric approach of Weis’ first two years, coupled with a number of poor talent evaluations, leaves Kansas with just 13 high school recruits from Weis’ first two classes, including linebacker Schyler Miles, whose knee injury has put his career in jeopardy. The other 12: safety Greg Allen, linebacker Courtney Arnick, defensive end Kellen Ash, offensive lineman Joey Bloomfield, quarterback Montell Cozart, tight end Jordan Darling, defensive tackle Tyler Holmes, tight end Ben Johnson, wide receiver Tre’ Parmalee, nickelback Tevin Shaw, left tackle Jordan Shelley-Smith and cornerback Colin Spencer.

Most Big 12 schools likely have in the range 35 scholarship high school recruits from those two classes on their 2015 rosters.

Again, blaming the remaining players and new coaching staff for what promises to be an extremely rough season would be to ignore the history responsible for putting Kansas at such a competitive disadvantage. They’re all working hard daily in practice, trying to get a little better every day in a rebuilding project that will take years to complete.

Comments

Richard Heckler 7 years, 1 month ago

Good coverage......

Fans will need to bite the bullet meaning coming to have fun could be the order of the day. Cheering on the team will be the icing on the cake.

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 1 month ago

This is where you have to get creative and look to other schools to see possible solutions out there to help with some depth. The biggest thing with the air raid is you need big, fast receivers for it be a top level offense. KU doesn't have that right now. TCU is where KU needs to look to help themselves out on offense. TCU went from a more traditional offense to the air raid last season and absolutely thrived with it. How? They went to track and field and recruited some of their sprinters who played football in HS to come walk on the football team (Baylor has also been doing this for awhile now). Those kids didn't count against the football scholarship because they are on scholarship in another sport. David Beaty could very well be planning to head over to Coach Redwine's office after the outdoor T&F season is over and inquire about some the sprinters. One of the incoming transfers for KU this season is a track guy from Wichita St. so the staff is obviously not blind to this practice that could help Cummings and the offense out this season.

Do I think doing this is going to instantly make KU become a playoff contender like TCU became? Absolutely not, and I still think KU would be a 2-3 win team next year. But, what getting some track guys playing WR does is give KU some legitimate weapons in the passing game. The air raid is an offense where you're looking at a 60/40 pass/run ratio at least so the need for bodies is there and has been made a priority by Beaty and Likens. If KU does manage to scrape together a competent receiving corp this season, the nature of the air raid offense is going to give KU a chance to outscore some people this season and give them an outside chance at more than 2-3 wins this season.

If you want to know how KU's season goes this year, pay attention to the WR's/TE's because that is the make or break position group for KU this season. If what KU has on paper now is the caliber of production they get out of the receivers, it will indeed be a very long season. However, if the receivers are able to overachieve this year, KU will have a chance to surprise a lot of people and be a year or two ahead of schedule in this rebuilding effort.

Kevin Kelly 7 years, 1 month ago

The man appeared out of thin air one day on campus and the whole country said, "What a solid idea for KU. That man is high quality!" Blame Weiss......and no one else.

Calvin Miller 7 years, 1 month ago

Well, "we" didn't whiff. Zenger whiffed. Anyone who is more than a casual observer of college FB knew that Weis was not a good college coach. Weis, with his bloated ego, was just looking for more $$$ to pad his retirement fund.

Robert Brown 7 years, 1 month ago

The AD is definitely responsible. No one else was throwing a guaranteed $10m contract at Weis. He was doing a poor job at Florida at the time he was hired. The national press thought it was a strange and bad move and they were right. Some how, out of all of this, the AD has gotten a big raise.

In retrospect, we should have given Turner Gill at least one more year to see what we could do. We certainly would have been in better shape personnel wise had he failed in Year 3 because he did a decent job recruiting in his only full year he had to recruit.

Bryce Landon 7 years, 1 month ago

Disagree. Gill did not deserve a Year 3. His players were flunking in the classroom, they were undisciplined on the football field, their strength and conditioning program was a joke, and they were suffering historically bad losses on the football field. Firing Gill was the right move, hiring Weis was not.

John Myers 7 years, 1 month ago

Agreed.. Not to mention he was just clueless and had no plan - in way over his head. Try to find any snippet from a post game presser where he sounded like he had any idea at all what had happened, why we lost, what his plan was to improve..

Robert Brown 7 years, 1 month ago

How was Weis any better? Not all of the players dismissed were flunking out which not to say there wasn't a problem with academics. Some off the players were just run off.

I also agree that Gill was not the answer and would assume he would only last one more year. But, had he stayed one more year, there would have been more talent on the roster for the next coach because Gill did a decent job in his one full year he had to recruit.

Joe Ross 7 years, 1 month ago

I dont think he's saying Weis was better. He's saying they were both terrible, if I had to guess. He's right. Both Gill and Weis were rightly fired and both should have been fired before they actually were. Especially Gill. He was completely clueless.

Bryce Landon 7 years, 1 month ago

The only difference between Gill and Weis is that Weis is way better at making you think he knows what he's talking about.

Robert Brown 7 years, 1 month ago

I think that perfectly frames the issue with the two coaches

Adam Tyler 7 years, 1 month ago

Weis was quick to get rid of athletes who were not living up to standards in the classroom. No second chances were given, just immediate termination. They were not given a chance to redeem themselves under a regime that insisted one of its focuses was building the complete student-athlete.

Yet he didn't mind giving kids with checkered backgrounds second chances. Kids who would go on to assault people, commit robbery, etc. And Weis was not blindsided by the actions of these players. He knew what he was getting when he signed them and turned a blind eye.

There were inconsistencies with his methods.

I believe he kicked Gills kids off because it sounded good and people could say "oh wow, he's really trying to change the culture" and it opened up more opportunities for his recruits to come in.

Doug Cramer 7 years, 1 month ago

I tried telling ya'll...but nobody wanted to hear it.

Joe Ross 7 years, 1 month ago

I was with you on calling for a realistic perspective on the team. Everything being said was positive when you knew it wasn't all rainbows and unicorns.

Situations like these are where youre not happy to be vindicated in the perspective you took, but it was right nonetheless.

Joel Vinson 7 years, 1 month ago

I've seen Beaty talk about the walk-on program he has already built, but so far none of the articles have talked about it. Are these players not known yet by the public? Are they not allowed to practice during spring ball?

Joel Vinson 7 years, 1 month ago

That's what I was figuring. So really, we don't know the actual depth or how many diamonds in the rough Coach has found through the walk-ons.

Bryce Landon 7 years, 1 month ago

Weis isn't the only one to blame. Gill also shoulders the responsibility. Gill and Weis ran this program so deep into the ground that it's likely we may not sniff bowl eligibility this decade at all. As far as I'm concerned, Beaty gets a pass whatever happens this season.

Michael Lorraine 7 years, 1 month ago

Too easy to pin the blame on the head coach. Plenty of blame to go around including a fan base that year after year fails to support its football program.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 7 years, 1 month ago

Wow, is it football season already? So soon after the annual flopola in the national basketball tournament??

Mr. Keegan wants to blame the fired coach, most recent in a long string of coaching dismissals at KU. He gives a long list of reasons why this is so, but I choose to defer a little.

Kansas University, an educational institution (supposedly) brings numerous one year wonders and NBA wannabes for their basketball team, with the yearly hope of plowing through the Big 12 Conference basketball season with mostly average basketball members. This year most Big 12 teams that KU demolished were out of the second round of the national tournament by the second round. Some accomplishment, eh??

But I defer. The football program at KU has never been a football school in the company of Kansas State, Iowa State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, TCU, or Baylor. It never will be as long as the university puts so much emphasis on it's alleged "superior" basketball program. I can only remember one bowl game and that was several years back.

The atmosphere at KU is not good for a really superior football program. The support is just not there.

So let's blame the coach, and the people who hired him and the others that have had a few years trying to build a football program in the midst of the hype and fantasy of the basketball team.

John Boyle 7 years, 1 month ago

Yes the excellent basketball team has killed the football program. Give me a stinking break! That is just whining. The Big 12 was a very tough basketball conference this year. It didn't have any one team at the top dominating but it was tough from top to bottom. As for the NCAA tournament, ridiculous seedings and upsets are always going to happen. There have been numerous years that the Big 10 was suppose to be the greatest only to have most of their teams lose in the first or second round. That didn't mean they weren't the toughest conference. I'm glad you threw KSU and Iowa State out there as football programs above KU. Yes in the last several years that is true but can you remember back when KSU was vying for the NCAA record for consecutive losses? Kansas has made some poor choices in hiring football coaches and it has hurt them. But the fans will stand behind the program when it puts a quality product on the field. Remember 2008? The fan base was great. Winning cures all not the other way around. We get it Mr. Whitehead, you don't like basketball. Your a football guy. But they can both succeed. You don't have to have one or the other.

Waylon Cook 7 years, 1 month ago

A football school in the company of Iowa State? What?

Calvin Miller 7 years, 1 month ago

Guess you missed the 2007 and 2008 seasons completely. The stadium was filled regularly both years. BUild a winning program and the fans will buy tickets.

DB Ashton 7 years, 1 month ago

Why blame anyone? If there's blame to be shared, it's unrealistic expectations on the part of everyone, the fear of doing something entirely different and Kansas simply being Kansas.

There is no reason whatsoever for a four- or five-star recruit to sign with Kansas, widely recognized as a basketball school. A third of them come from Florida, Texas or California. The Florida kids have three excellent in-state choices, plus Georgia and the entire (warm) SEC. Kansas, even the Big 12, is not on their radar. Texas recruits have five top programs to select from in-state, plus Oklahoma and OSU and Arkansas in the SEC. All are far superior to Kansas. California kids have the entire Pacific Coast to select from, plus Arizona and have no interest in a Kansas winter.

Further, though seldom spoken out loud, while a typical top-25 university football team might average some 70 percent African-American, Lawrence and KU is less salubrious with regard to African-American culture than many other options.

My view has long been that if one cannot, by definition, win often, why not then seek to be entertaining? Better to lose 49-24 (or more!) than 24-3. Hire a wild and crazy "Mike Leach." Recruit gunslingers and elite speed. Play all four downs inside the 50. Stunt, rush, gamble every down on defense. "Go somewhere else to beat your brains out for endless hours a week, kids. Come to Kansas and have FUN. PLAY football." Fun to watch, too.

There's nothing more lovely than a bright Saturday afternoon in the fall on the Hill on game day. Why ruin it with the same old depressing stuff that has NO chance of success. My vote's for "Jet Jayhawks" and to heck with the score. We might surprise and even win a few.

Glen Miller 7 years, 1 month ago

I am confident that we can win a couple of our non conference games. I don't see us hanging a donut in the win column. I think it will be a tough season, but I don't think that we will go winless.

Richard Aronoff 7 years, 1 month ago

I think RIchard Heckler has the right idea. If you have no expectation that they will win, it can be a perfectly enjoyable way to spend an afternoon,

Joe Joseph 7 years, 1 month ago

Beaty will be awarded his due time. Zenger goofed by hiring Weiss and paying him so much money. Such a name and contract create unfair expectations.

There are practically no expectations for Beaty. Except, maybe, to expect more losing. He literally can do no worse than the two men who preceded him.

Jim Stauffer 7 years, 1 month ago

It seems then it was not the quick fix approach at all that was the problem. It was the fact it did not fix the problem. The players he recruited were not of sufficient character to stay the course and develop as players.

We would be no better off if they had stayed since their character was the chief problem. They did not have what it took to reach their potential.

Now, we are short, but the best of the crop have stayed. We will more than likely win a game and probably more than one game.

Humpy Helsel 7 years, 1 month ago

First, an up and comer who turned into big name (and a really big guy!). Next, an up and comer with a big name from playing days. Next, big name with big ego and questionable head and assistant coaching success. (Really? I think I could coach Tom Brady), Now, up and comer who must be given 5 years. The coaching merry-go-round has to stop. KU football fans are just going to have to bite it for two years and hope we see some light at end of year three. No one wants to play for a program where the head coach recruiting you will be gone before your 4 year commitment is completed. What needs recruitment and practice over next four years is a fan base that shows up no matter what, helping their head coach have something to point to other than the losing end of a score board. But it won't happen because we are just lazy and uninterested unless we have a winner or we are playing hoops at Allen. Fact.

Micky Baker 7 years, 1 month ago

This, I agree with as well. Students, in particular, get heavy discounts for home games and there really is no excuse to not go to the games and stay for the whole game. Our fans also need to learn how to make a lot of noise and be persistent with it. I hope the fans do show up and stop pretending that the one Orange Bowl win in the 2007-08 season was some how a standard this program is used to. A program can't get to that level until the fans rise to that level. Why should there be major renovations to the stadium if the fans won't show up and be in the game from whistle to whistle?

The stadium renovations from my understanding will be funded by private donations and not by taxes, and when it's done the capacity needs to be more than 60,000, but if the fans don't show up unless KU does something they've only done a few times(go to a major Bowl), then there really is no need to build a new stadium. That fan base can help in recruiting if they make Memorial Stadium experiences a great one for the players and for the recruits who visit. Also, if the students and fans who are able to go to the games do go to the games, then more cable providers will pick up the Jayhawk Network which would raise revenues to KU's athletic department(not to mention the ticket sales, merchant sales as a percent, and merchandise sales. A couple of big time players may have chosen KU over schools that were either formerly in the conference or are still in the conference if the fans made it a formidable home field advantage. They were both 5 star players. We have a 5 star player who has visited us twice and is in the class of 2016, and we need to what it takes to land that guy because he can bring others around him up a couple of ticks. KU really needs the fans to fill the stadium up every game regardless of the state of the program, and if that is done then it will be easier to grow it and then to maintain it.

Micky Baker 7 years, 1 month ago

I'm with Keegan on this. It is Weis's fault. During the first season some, if not more than just a few people were suggesting the hiring of an offensive coordinator. There were signs of improvement on offense in 2014, but it was too little too late. We can't go back in time, but what was left by Weis is a depleted roster due to a lot of guys he recruited being dismissed for issues that had to do with the character of the individual. We can always play the hindsight is 20/20 game but I think that if Cummings was the starter for 2012, 2013, and then last year, we could have pulled off an upset or two last year, particularly against TCU who we really had on the ropes.

I don't know if it's right to name a guy coming out of Spring as the starter because there are a couple of newcomers who might be able to rise to the occasion in summer camp and beat out Cummings and Cozart. I don't think Cozart should even be a QB right now. We should have Darling, Cummings, and Millweard with the two new guys checking in later. We should put Cozart out as WR and get him some reps. He is certainly athletic enough to contribute this coming season and we might be hurting ourselves and him by not changing his position because he has no chance to move on after KU as a pro as QB, but might be able to develop into a reliable receiver that can make guys miss and play a role on an NFL roster.

The position that we're in could have been avoided. In retrospect, it was a bad idea to get some of the transfers who had a history of bad character, and they took some guys down with them that could have contributed last year. Due to the timing of those things, it was too late to replace them with a new recruit. I don't know if the Spring Game is going to be enough to really reach any conclusions by I will be keeping my eye out on the QBs, our defensive line, and the route running by our receives who are already here.

I want to see a sense of urgency, but for reasons that aren't what most assume. I want to see if they hustle to the line and if they are buying into Beaty's air raid offense, because if they are buying in that is a big first hurdle for a new coach and demonstrates his leadership ability and his discipline.

Sam Allen 7 years, 1 month ago

We should of kept Mangino, he may have mistreated players but mistakes happen and we should of looked into this case. He was the best coach we ever had, so I guess wait let me think that again I know he like losing! If a coach was hated and fired, no other program Would hire a such coach and hate is a strong word! So a lot of coaches get Fired and then hired elseware. Zenger just over thought/over looked the decision!

Sam Allen 7 years, 1 month ago

And there are are way worse decision coaches that still with their team by their AD's

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