Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Gene Wier relishes new role on KU fooball staff

Kansas football director of high school relations Gene Wier talks to the media Wednesday, Jan 14, 2015, during an introductory session with the KU football team's assistant coaches.

Kansas football director of high school relations Gene Wier talks to the media Wednesday, Jan 14, 2015, during an introductory session with the KU football team's assistant coaches.


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.”


Jerry Walker 7 years, 6 months ago

Kansas kids and football success? Just look down the highway to the west...K-State had roughly 54 Kansans on their roster.

Bobby Oviemena Birhiray 7 years, 6 months ago

Look I understand you guys are proud of Kansas High School Football, and look to K-State as an example. But you can not blame any coach for not recruiting hard in Kansas. The high football is a little behind in player development and in football trends. I take myself as an example. I am 34, played at KU and in Texas for high school. We ran a spread offense, had 7 on 7 tournaments and two-a-day then. I don't even think you guys are doing two-a-days let alone the other stuff.

Michael Lorraine 7 years, 6 months ago

Sure it can be done but recruiting from Kansas is inherently difficult. Our neighbors like Nebraska, Colorado and Missouri have the luxury of owning the states there in. We have to compete with K-State in a recruiting base with a small population no less. To make matters worse we’re in between two power house programs. Top talent historically has gone to Nebraska and Oklahoma.

Jerry Walker 7 years, 6 months ago

I agree we're in a worse position to recruit top-talent Kansans than the surrounding states. But there's not that much top-talent in Kansas to start with. I think its more about finding those kids who are not physically ready now.

I think our facilities are equal to or better than those other schools and the coaching staff has to convince these lower level kids that the best place to develop is KU...after all they're not going to play much no matter where they sign.

Michael Bennett 7 years, 6 months ago

I know a Div I player can transfer to Div. II and be immediately eligible. Is the reverse true, could a Div II transfer to a Div. I and be immediately eligible?

Jonathan Briles 7 years, 6 months ago

Hey Bobby, Matt, or anyone who knows. Whats going on with Cam Durley? I thought he was going to sign with us last thursday or friday. Is he backing out, having trouble in other areas or just a little slow getting it done?

Matt Tait 7 years, 6 months ago

Just a little slow, from the sound of things. The reality is this… If Durley gray shirts (which means he'll report to campus this summer, pay his own way next fall, not have anything to do with football for a semester per NCAA rules and then go on scholarship for the spring semester of 2016), then there likely won't be any official announcement from KU until he is enrolled and on the roster. Maybe not even then.

I've continued to try to reach out to Durley and will talk to the coaches as soon as I get a chance. For right now, though, I'd say the best thing to do is assume he's coming until you hear otherwise and let it all play out.

Jonathan Briles 7 years, 6 months ago

I would be impressed with him if he went with that option. Sounds like a rough deal. He has to be away from football for a season and pay for a semester. Seems like that would be frustrating for him and really hurt his growth and conditioning. I know he had several scholarship offers so if he is willing to go through all that to be here then he must really want to be here and like the staff and program which is pretty awesome. His size is pretty enticing so I really hope he ends up coming here and developing into a solid contributor.

Ray Winger 7 years, 6 months ago

Great Article. Would like more specifics regarding the difference in high school athletic, participation that Kansas has with Texas or other nearby states. Perhaps a column.

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 6 months ago

Kansas football has a poor set up to be successful in producing talent. There's no reason for Kansas to have 6 classifications because of the few number of high schools. Kansas needs to consolidate the top three levels into two classifications. That increases the competition at the top levels of the state. 7 on 7 brings the spread to Kansas which is why Texas and Florida skill position players are so far ahead of most other places.

Texas high school basketball was in a similar place not that long ago when they didn't sanction AAU basketball so basketball prospects were way behind many other states. After AAU became sanctioned, Texas started catching up and is one if the top producing states.

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