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Coaching Moves

Charlie Weis is the Next Coach at Kansas.

Charlie Weis will be the next head coach at Kansas. I know you’ve heard this already, but give it another moment to sink in: Kansas, looking to replace Turner Gill, hired Charlie Weis. Formerly of the N.F.L, formerly of Notre Dame, then of Florida. Weis, who went to back-to-back B.C.S. bowls with the Irish and then went 16-21 over three seasons with his own players and his offensive system fully in place. A coach whose schematic advantage was seemingly rivaled by his own arrogance. Weis, whose offense with the Gators finished the regular season ranked 102nd in the nation. This was surprising.

Weis did inform Will Muschamp of his interest in the job, contrary to early reports — including in this space — and the announcement, which came as Muschamp was on his way to a press conference for the Gator Bowl, did not entirely take Florida by surprise. In the big picture, however, the Gators weren’t preparing for another change at coordinator.

On Nov. 22, Weis told local reporters that he was going to coach at Florida “for a long time.” Said Weis: “Remember the reasons why I came here. So, I’ll be here for a while, unless you’re trying to get rid of me.” Even if they weren’t ready for the change, Muschamp and Florida can take some solace in the fact that Weis’s replacement can only stand as an improvement.

At least the Jayhawks were able to reach their top prerequisite for the job: head coach experience on the B.C.S. conference level. Weis has five years of such experience, thanks to his time at Notre Dame, and was able to familiarize himself with the college game this past season.

In fact, his background — on paper — doesn’t look too bad. Kansas hired the former head coach at Notre Dame? The current offensive coordinator at Florida? At face value, Kansas just upgraded. But looks can be deceiving. If there’s one thing we know about Charlie Weis, it’s that he’s ill-suited for the college game.

Kansas didn’t necessarily need an offensive genius, even if we stretch to attach that tag to a coach whose most recent offense scored a total of 92 points against its last seven F.B.S. opponents. Kansas needed a coach who can lead a roster of three-stars to consistent bowl play; the Jayhawks needed a builder, not a maintainer.

Weis is neither of those. Notre Dame proved this out: he took his predecessor’s players to greater heights, but showed an utter inability to develop his own players. Think immediate stars are walking into Lawrence? Think again. Weis will need to identify second-tier talent and turn it into first-tier talent to win the Big 12.

Identifying and developing: his Achilles heel in South Bend. The Jayhawks needed a coach well-versed in overcoming the odds: Gill, basically, but with a track record of doing so at a B.C.S. conference program. Are those guys hard to find? Without question. Retreads, on the other hand, are a dime a dozen.

Uncover a rock — open up a B.C.S. conference job — and you’ll see the usual suspects. Fulmer. Nutt. Tommy Bowden. Groh. Leavitt. Is it fair to include Weis on this list? Absolutely. He fouled up his one major job. He fouled it up far worse than any other name on the above list, in fact. Given another shot at the college game with the Gators, Weis put together one of the worst offenses in program history.

What is Kansas thinking? New athletic director Sheahon Zenger told ESPN’s Joe Schad that the hire “puts Kansas on the national map.” Hiring Weis makes Kansas relevant, in short. Not true in the least.

Weis makes Kansas relevant in the same way being on TV makes Kim Kardashian relevant. There’s name recognition and there’s fame, but there’s nothing of consequence to back up Zenger’s claim that Weis makes Kansas a destination to watch, not merely a stopping-off point for Big 12 teams looking to pad their stats.

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  1. Hokieshibe says:

    A very puzzling hire. A place like Kansas seems to cater to Weis’ weaknesses as a coach (finding unheralded talent and coaching it up). It’s like they weere going for name recognition and forgot that they also needed someone who could coach the team…

  2. Gotham Gator says:

    It’s a puzzling hire to be sure, but to be fair to Weis, it’s hard to put points on the board when your starting QB is hurt most of the year.

    Another question is why would Weis take this job? It’s not a top college destination, and they can’t be paying him a lot more than he was making at Florida. If he had stayed at UF for a couple more years and done well, then he could have landed a much better job than Kansas. Plus, he had family reasons to stay at Florida, where his son is a student volunteer for the football program. In fact, that was his stated reason for coming to Florida in the first place. So, why leave for a job that seems set up for failure.

    The foregoing being a long way of saying this isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement of Will Muschamp.

  3. Hokieshibe says:

    @gator -
    You losing faith in mischamp already? Maybe he and wiess weren’t getting along

  4. Dave says:

    I bet part of his compensation package at Kansas is all-you-can-eat steaks, delivered fresh to his door twice daily…

  5. Lee says:

    Kerwin Bell will be the next off cordinator at FLORIDA. We will be better as a result…pro style offense combined with a guy that has great relationships with UF high schools and is a Gator favorite.

    Quote from Muschamp. Charlie didn’t do anything underhanded. WIll knew about it.

    “He was contacted about the job and we talked about it and he told me it was an opportunity he wanted to take, and I support him 1,000 percent,” Muschamp said at a Gator Bowl news conference in Jacksonville on Thursday. “I asked him, I said, ‘Is this something you’re really interested in doing?’ He said, ‘Yeah, I want to talk to them.’

    “So, I said, ‘I support you 100 percent if that’s what you want to do. I think that’s great.’ “

  6. Rob says:

    I know of very few of my fellow Gator fans who are put off by this hire. Addition by subtraction seems to be consensus. While this may hurt our recruiting class for this year, Weis’ offense got progressively worse as the season went on, culminating in the FSU debacle, where, were it not for one lucky, late turnover, it would have been shut out for the first time since 1988.

    This also gives Muschamp no scapegoat to hide behind. The success or failure of the next O-coordinator rests entirely on his shoulders. While I do believe Muschamp is in over his head at Florida, I am genuinely starting to feel bad for the guy. Can’t think of another 1st year head coach who had to deal with this much of a circus in his first season…

  7. juan says:

    It’s remarkable how prevalent the Muschamp-didn’t-know line keeps getting repeated (based on a Dennis Dodd tweet?) when Muschamp is clearly on the record to the contrary.

    Paul: Yeah, it was the prevalent train of thought for the hours after the hire. I waffled over changing it above, but it’s not correct to leave in what seemed to be the case when I wrote the post instead of the actual story. So if you see above, the second paragraph has been altered to reflect Muschamp’s later comments saying that he was in the loop on the talk between Weis and Kansas.

  8. Ardbeg says:

    University of New Mexico also hired a former Notre Dame head coach this year. Central Florida has one. The Washington Huskies, Akron Zips, and South Carolina Gamecocks tried a turn. I bet Texas A&M could land of of those guys if it also wants to make a “big splash.” No Notre Dame coach has had a winning record at a subsequent gig since the 1940s.

  9. Lee says:

    Nice correction Paul. Good stuff.

  10. Gotham Gator says:

    I should amend the conclusion to my last post.

    It’s not a ringing endorsement of Muschamp by Weis, but then again, it could also indicate the reverse. That Muschamp wasn’t all that pleased with Charlie.

  11. Ghost of the Purple Porpoise says:


    Why would he leave for a job that seems set up for failure? Hubris my friend, Weis’ arrogance is well documented. I’m sure he doesn’t think he will fail, in much the same way he firmly believes that running a 120lb tailback up the gut every time will help establish the run. Wrong on both counts.

    I have a hard time believing that part of him wasn’t embarrassed to only be an OC rather than head coach, I think it was more about his pride than any quarrels with Muschamp.

  12. Lee says:

    Charlie wants to be a HC. That’s fine. I personally think that Kansas is a dead end.

    He would probably be a good NFL coach. College is just different.

  13. EuroTrader Gator says:

    I’ll tell you: this was a blessing is disguise for Muschamp and the Gators and he jumped on it. And Weiss’ taking the over-paid, under-performing O-Line Coach is a blessing too.

    Weiss failed miserably at Notre Dame and there were many of us who never liked his hire in the first place. He CANNOT develop talent — as shown by dozens of examples THIS YEAR but none better than the fact he couldn’t coach-up any of the back-up QBs. ALL YEAR! He couldn’t scheme anything but a 160# scat back up-the-middle on 3rd and short . . . in the SEC?!?!

    Good riddance!

  14. Dagger says:

    Gotham – You must have missed the part about his son already being enrolled at KU, and the charter flights to FL where his wife and daughter will stay.

    This is a legacy statement/attempt by Weiss. He’s keeping the lead recruiter from the previous staff, and some reports point to him bringing his head recruiter from ND as well. That, and there’s a 5* that will be on-campus this weekend. Instant improvement over the previous QB.

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