Column: Blame Weis for ’15 struggles

Monday, April 20, 2015

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.