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Column: Weis history, but skid lives on

Kansas head coach Charlie Weis shows frustration during the Jayhawks' 41-3 loss to Duke on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2013 at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, North Carolina.

— Saturday was supposed to be a triumphant homecoming for Charlie Weis, who 26 years ago led Franklin High to a New Jersey state championship.

The newspapers were going to be filled with stories about how the old NFL quarterback guru had done it again, showing up Notre Dame, which had kicked him to the curb with his pockets stuffed with millions and millions of dead presidents.

The stories would detail how he showed Dayne Crist and then Jake Heaps how to run pro-style offenses and turned around their careers, sending them along to the NFL. Massive offensive linemen, carrying similar weights to NFL blockers, would help the pocket passers show that after all these innovations in the college game, old-fashioned football remains the best path to success.

Five-star quarterback recruits would be tripping over each other trying to get to Lawrence to learn under the master. And Charlie Weis Jr. would be in his first-year as the youngest Div. I offensive coordinator in the nation.

More than a quarter-century and four Super Bowl rings later, Weis, a native of Trenton, was going to enjoy this trip to the state university of New Jersey.

Well, it didn’t quite work out that way. Not even halfway into his five-year, $12.5 million contract, Weis was fired by the man who hired him, Kansas University athletic director Sheahon Zenger.

Just 33 scholarship players remain from Weis’ three recruiting classes. Left tackle Jordan Shelley-Smith, tight ends Ben Johnson and Kent Taylor, wide receiver Tre’ Parmalee and defensive back Tevin Shaw have been the most productive of his remaining recruits.

The question many had when Zenger made the hire — if Weis couldn’t win consistently at Notre Dame, a prestigious program with so many recruiting advantages, why would anybody think he would succeed at such an underdog football program? — remains every bit as valid today.

Weis inherited from Turner Gill a decent number of fast skill players, no long-term offensive-line prospects and a whole slew of academic and discipline problems. That didn’t help, but in the end what undermined him most were poor talent-evaluation skills, particularly at quarterback, and a quick-fix recruiting approach packed with graduate and junior-college transfers. Showing humility few knew he had, Weis admitted midway through his second season to putting his team at a decided schematic disadvantage. He said the spread offense was the way to go after all.

Now it’s on David Beaty — who is in danger of making some of the same mistakes if he continues to take graduate transfers — to put an end to an extremely embarrassing road losing streak that stands at 33 games (including three losses to Missouri at Arrowhead Stadium).

Beaty will try not to become the fifth coach to add his name to the streak that started when the current true freshmen on KU’s roster were in eighth grade. Mark Mangino (0-5), Turner Gill (0-11), Weis (0-12) and current defensive coordinator and former interim head coach Clint Bowen (0-5) all experienced nothing but quiet rides home.

A dozen of the road losses on this endless streak came in Beaty’s home state of Texas, one of a dozen states that are part of the 33-game streak. He’ll get plenty of chances to coach there.

Look beyond the money Weis continues to earn, and you can find a sadness to him not making it far enough to have the chance to coach in his home state. Oh, well, at least he can take pride in his son getting his coaching career launched of his own merit. Charlie Jr. has an entry-level job in Nick Saban’s Alabama football program. Charlie Sr. is retired and living near Notre Dame and through 2016 will be paid more than three times as much per year as his successor. Weis is not to be ridiculed for that. He and Zenger agreed to those terms, and nobody was armed at the negotiations.

Comments

Calvin Miller

"you can find a sadness to him not making it far enough to have the chance to coach in his home state"???
Sadness?? Sadness is the absurd amount of money that this clown of a coach now is being paid. He's nothing more than con artist who was lucky in his early connections to NFL coaches and even more benefit in having Tom Brady as a QB.

7 years, 2 months ago

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Andy Tweedy

The only thing I'm sad about is I had just about erased the whole Charlie Weiss hire from my brain and along came this article. I agree, Calvin, I'd take this kind of sad twist of fate any day!

7 years, 2 months ago

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Charlie Gaughn

The Weis hire wasn't just a minor error. It was a catastrophic, program destroying, blunder. If a CEO of a 100 million dollar company made an equivalent mistake I can assure you he wouldn't still be sitting in a big office, drawing a big salary and acting as if nothing ever happened.

Zenger hired Weis because it was quick and easy. There were red flags all over the place. Yes, Weis was popular with the KC crowd because, along the lines of the post above, he happened to be with the Chiefs in a year they made the playoffs. Other than being in the right place at the right time, he brought no credentials to the table. Then, from what I heard, he put his kid in charge of the offense. It showed!

Zenger needs to go! At a mminimum his salary should be reduced to recoup some of the outrageous payout to Weis. Perhaps if KU would start treating athletics as a business instead of a trip to the Casino we could start enjoying some continued success in football.

7 years, 2 months ago

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Brett McCabe

Add to this the fact that he has been a KSU apologist, and many KU fans would say enough is enough. Now would be a good time to get a KU guy in here - Milt Newton or Jacque Vaughn anyone?

7 years, 2 months ago

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Robert Brown

You obviously don't know how business works. Many CEOs are firing and continue to collect a very fat severance package.

7 years, 2 months ago

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Steve Corder

How patient is the coaching staff regarding the play at quarterback? How much of it, patience, is a function of the players behind Cozart?

Obviously, I am not around the scene like these LJW guys, but is Rutgers the 'make-or-brake' game for Cozart?

7 years, 2 months ago

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Brett McCabe

If they didn't believe in Willis or Ford enough to challenge as potential starters, then they should have held both of them out and let Millweard/Cozart battle it out to a 1-win or 0-win season, while preserving redshirts.

7 years, 2 months ago

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Joe Joseph

Zenger obviously made a poor decision hiring Weiss.

Perkins set the precedent, however, for over-paying wildly incompetent D1 head football coaches by hiring Turner Gill. It's almost like Mangino's relative successes at KU tricked the department into thinking KU was a destination job and that any coach it hired would demand a destination salary.

Beaty appears to be a good hire, at least on the surface. He has recruiting connections; experience with good, bad, and mediocre programs; and he's an incredibly charismatic individual. He also commands a very modest salary. That, combined with the epically bad status of the football program - and the subsequent expectations of the football program - will give Beaty time to prove if he actually can or cannot coach at this level.

7 years, 2 months ago

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Charlie Gaughn

I agree with most of what you say. However, TG looked great after 2+ years of Weis. He couldn't coach but at least he didn't destroy our numbers.

In my opinion guaranteed contracts have no place in college coaching. A large part of the salary should be based on incentives. This can range from wins and losses to classroom successes. The measurements for the incentive portion of the salary should be reviewed each year based on the progress the program is making. A retention pool should also be established which the coach earns after an agreed to amount of time at the institution. This pool would grow with bowl appearances, conference championships, etc. If the coach leaves early they forfeit the retention pool.

A compensation package like this would protect the donors from scam artists like Weis. It would also reward coaches for moving the program in a positive direction. Yes you won't hire big name head coaches but we aren't anyway.

7 years, 2 months ago

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Eliott Reeder

You're making a lot of sense here, Charlie...

7 years, 2 months ago

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Robert Brown

What is sad is that Turner Gill's Liberty team would play a competitive game with this year's KU team. Zenger's mistake was not giving Gill another year and if that did not work out, hire someone like Beaty or equivalent. It would be much more fair to the new coach that what Beaty inherited from Weis. Weis clearly has done more damage than Turner Gill because if it was determined that Gill could not coach, at least his successor would have a full roster of players.

7 years, 2 months ago

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Mike Kalina

Keeping TG another year was not an option. What Zenger found was a dumpster fire. The players were breaking rules, not going to class and the program had the lowest GPA since before Mangino. Even coaches were showing up late to the facility. Gill gave people an inch and unfortuately they took a mile.

The Weis hire was a knee jerk reaction to try to gain orde and it failed miserably with all the jucos and grad transfers. I will give Zenger credit for pulling the plug as fast as he did and admitting his mistake. Plus I honestly believe he made the right hire in Beaty. Everyone screws up, look at Texas and their AD situation.

I do agree though that this was Zengers last chance to get the coach right.

7 years, 2 months ago

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Fred Whitehead Jr.

Kinda good to see something about the football team. With this newsrag's preponderance of news about the latest one year wonder high school candidates for the basketball team, it is sort of unusual. Face it, KU is hooked on basketball, as it should be. Football is just a space between summer and basketball.

7 years, 2 months ago

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Charlie Gaughn

Unfortunately I agree. However, if we keep that attitude we'll be playing 10:00 p.m. games in the Mountain West before too long.

7 years, 2 months ago

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Dale Rogers

How quickly we forget the University of Kansas is not high on the list of many available coaches and certainly not experienced quality coaches. The Weis hire, in retrospect, was a bad one. But just who else was available that really could have been projected to do better? Who knew the approach Weis would take to recruiting? It's easy to blame Zenger but those doing the blaming have even less true knowledge than he does. Otherwise they'd be making the big bucks instead of bashing him in anonymous comments.

7 years, 2 months ago

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Aaron Paisley

Then Northern Illinois and current NC State coach Dave Doeren was available and very much interested in the job at the time and was the popular choice among a lot of fans and alums.

7 years, 2 months ago

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Joe Ross

There were several good names out there, but none of them were coming to Kansas.

7 years, 2 months ago

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Brett McCabe

Dale, I don't post anonymously. The choice of Weis was widely panned when it was made, but I did try and support it publicly for as long as I could.

AD's at P5 schools pretty much have one job: find good football coaches. Bottom line, Zenger gets paid a lot to get it right, or at least to not get it incredibly wrong.

7 years, 2 months ago

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Robert Brown

There were many other possibilities. Most were up and coming assistants and some were head coaches at smaller colleges. Weis came out of the blue. Compounding the bad choice was the unnecessarily generous contract.

7 years, 2 months ago

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Brett McCabe

And offering a lower number to CW might have revealed his true intentions before we hired him. It should have been an incentive-laden contract with a bare bones base salary.

7 years, 2 months ago

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Suzi Marshall

I confess to have been a big supporter of Weiss' hiring and subsequent house cleaning of the academic/social problem kids, and his recruiting philosophy go after the top Juco prospects, similar to KSU's path. Alas, Weiss is no Snider...not many can approach that claim.

It's easy to forget how close we were to having a very good team his first year. We had a veteran OL, excellent running back and a solid defense. Who ever thought Crist would have so many problems with his passing accuracy ...and our receivers could drop so many ball, many in critical situations. That first year team could have very easily have won 7 or 8 games (Rice, UT, etc etc).

Weiss had no OL his second year so anything offensively was doomed. His decision early on to go with a very unmoble Heaps was the major disaster.

Going forward, I'm at a loss what to think about Kansas football and the big money commitments for a new stadium and continuing operations. I have absolutely zero interest in a team full of criminals like those Weiss recruited from Juco's then let go or those on the Alabama and several other teams.

7 years, 2 months ago

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Brett McCabe

Suzi, I think most of the people on this site supported Weis's "tough guy" approach. But I believe that we all assumed that there was a plan in place to have enough bodies on the sidelines to compete - turns out we should have all looked a little deeper.

What Weis did, in retrospect, was essentially unethical. He had managed a scholarship base at Notre Dame and should have known how his decisions were going to play out 2 or 3 years down the road.

If Weis were still here today, he'd have the exact same roster issues but at least we could ask him what he was thinking. For $2.5 million a year, he at least owes KU an explanation.

Importantly, though, Zenger sat back and watched it all unfold. Zenger hired the guy, Zenger let the situation get out of control, and he should have lost his job over it. Now, you've got the guy who created the problem out talking to donors trying to raise $100-million or more to renovate a stadium.

7 years, 2 months ago

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Suzi Marshall

Make that...north of $200 MM for a new stadium.

We all knew Weis was playing for now, not two or three years down the road. We areas know he was a pompous ass. The thing I found really surprising, which heard after his firing, was his inability to identify talent, recruiting and where to apply the talent on hand. Also I heard about his questionable work ethics and interest, such as sleeping through important coaches meetings.

The money we paid him, on top of the Gil money, is insanity.

7 years, 2 months ago

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Brett McCabe

Two kind of weird things bothered me after he was hired.

First, he let it slip once that he thought that he'd only be here five years - which was a really odd thing to say after just getting hired.

Second, when asked what he had learned from Notre Dame, he sort of stumbled around and said "chemistry among his coaches". I remember being incredibly underwhelmed by that answer.

The good news on the stadium front is that Cerner would likely be involved and that the best stadium design firms in the world are all in Kansas City. If we do get a new one, it should be incredible.

7 years, 2 months ago

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Joe Ross

Charlie Weis, for all his ineptitude, has been successful in at least two things: attaching his cart to some able-bodied horses (Ty Willinghams ND club, Tom Brady, etc.), and making millions of dollars.

I see a difference in the approaches of Charlie Weis and Beaty with respect to transfers (or at least I *want* to see a difference, whether it be real or not): that Weis used transfers to build a team, unsuccessfully trying to accomplish what Snyder has; and that Beaty uses them as stop-gaps, and almost because his hands are tied and he has no other choice.

Charlie's head and mouth were both bigger than his work-ethic, but I sense a humility in Beaty that keeps his nose to the grindstone. Whether the latter will be successful or not has yet to be seen. There are still the matters of player development and X's and O's coaching which will loom ever larger in subsequent seasons, but we all understand how poor results in the win-loss column affects reputation and recruiting (which cover over a multitude of sins otherwise).

Beaty has an uphill climb to assume the throne that the Perkins coup ousted Mangino from. Once dominoes start falling someone needs to interrupt the path, which in this case leads to ever-newer lows in college football. Domino 1? Manginos ouster. Then Gills hiring. Then Weis' hiring and recruiting.

Can we interrupt the procession of carnage now? Please?

Discipline. Focus. Development. Recruiting. Stadium. Dorms. Time for a new set of dominoes.

7 years, 2 months ago

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Edward Daub

I was excited when Weis was hired, until at work a West Virginia hillbilly said to me. Weis is a terrible hire! I said why? The hillbilly said because he failed at Notre Dame!

7 years, 2 months ago

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Bob Bailey

Our problem is Coaching!

There are very few Defense oriented coaches out there. If you watch a team, look at Defense. Defense wins games. You can gooble around with Offense, not so much worry. Even many Pro's have poor Defense. It might be tough to pick a good candidate!

7 years, 2 months ago

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Aaron Paisley

It's because the rules of the game currently heavily favor the offenses. A DE breathes on the QB and gets flagged for unnecessary roughness, advantage offense. A corner gets his feet tangled with a WR and it's a pass interference, advantage offense. A safety crushes someone over the middle with his shoulder, he gets flagged and ejected for targeting, advantage offense. Teams are heavily restricted on full pad practices, again advantage offense.

College football is a game that currently heavily favors the offense over the defense. Defenses in both the college game and NFL have suffered heavily since the emphasis on concussions has made people limit hitting as much as possible.

7 years, 2 months ago

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Brett McCabe

The school that shall not be named has developed a reputation for developing very talented DE's. Yet, those DE's have to get to the pros to really show there stuff - the college game moves so quickly, it's very difficult to get a pass-rush on anyone. Plus, your defense is so spread out, that there are gaping holes everywhere.

Hence the need for lighter, more nimble defensive players who can close space quickly. The best way to succeed as a defense in today's game is to become the best in the red-zone, where the field becomes your additional defender. If you are great in the red-zone, you can change the game dramatically.

7 years, 2 months ago

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Brett McCabe

When Terry Allen was fired, I championed the hiring of Marty Schottenheimer. Schottenheimer had been done wrong by Snyder at Washington, and had not yet been hired by Sand Diego.

Schottenheimer used to regularly attend KU basketball games and his son actually played at KU for a year - there was a strong connection.

Does anyone doubt that Schottenheimer would have made us a competitive program? I believe that he was hirable, and it might have taken a treasure box to get him, but I believe that it could have been done.

7 years, 2 months ago

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Robert Brown

Mangino turned out to be a good hire.

7 years, 2 months ago

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Brett McCabe

We would disagree on that. I won't go down the Mangino rabbit hole, but I believe that Schottenheimer would have won more and won longer.

7 years, 2 months ago

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Aaron Paisley

I don't think Martyball would have worked in the Big 12. I think the spread offenses that were coming into style at that point would've made Martyball look pretty bad.

7 years, 2 months ago

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John Fitzgerald

Why don't we fire Dinger and hire Clint Bowen at AD? He may not be the best defensive coordinator but he's passionate about KU and he wouldn't do anything unless it's in the best interest of the University. Pay him less than Dinger's salary and bring in a DC that has experience in turning a defense around. Not saying Bowen should be fired or replaced but more so promoted to a position that I think he would flourish in.

7 years, 2 months ago

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Ryan Michael

I think this entire article as well as the comments are a great example of just how short the memory of the general public is.

Charlie Weis had 2 seasons at Kansas. He was fired 4 games into the last season, and that was at the point the AD had already made the decision, so functionally 2 seasons.

Who did he succeed? You want to talk about a coach that was unqualified for the job? How about Turner Gill? The guy had ZERO qualifications. He enacted rules against the players that they couldn't have cell phones or women in the dorms after something like 8pm at night. Seriously? You want to know when this program went into the crapper, it was when Mark Mangino got thrown under a bus and we hired a glorified high school coach to replace him. 2 years was not long enough for Weis to affect anything. He may have succeeded, he may have failed, but 2 years was not enough to do much of anything with sub-par talent, a bad reputation, and flailing support.

The worst hire this university has ever had was Turner Gill. The problems we face are not the result of Weis (not saying he didn't make mistakes, but not everything is his). Lets not pretend he caused all our problems. Lew Perkins personal witch hunt of Mark Mangino is what put us in a huge downward spiral. If you think the AD having meetings with players behind the coaches back, bad mouthing the coach, telling players he was going to get rid of the coach etc doesn't affect player behavior or team cohesion, you are out of your mind.

Lets look at the full history and not just point fingers at a scapegoat in a "what have you done for me lately" manner.

7 years, 2 months ago

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Suzi Marshall

I second every word.

We all knew exactly what Weis was doing. The total focus was to make the team a winner right away. He damm near did it his first year. His second year the Juco Dream Team looked great in the summer but quite a few turned out to be criminals and never played. The entire veteran OL had graduated, which made Heaps a disaster.

7 years, 2 months ago

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Sae Thirtysix

Epic failure of Lew Perkins has landed KU football in this position. He hired Gill on a 'perception of style and leadership' - no track record, scant success, and hope.

My suspicion all along has been that Perkins strongly disliked the persona of Mangino. The 'big man’ stuff, his ruff exterior of being a Western PA / Ohio steel country guy. Perkins wanted starched shirt eloquence.

The end was initiated by Perkins, Gill pushed us over the edge.

When it comes to Weis, I recall that Zenger went on a long road trip to hire a coach; came back from Gainseville and then Weis followed. I hoped the fire in Weis 'to prove himself' as a D1 coach would flourish. Sadly he floundered, no desire to make things better and his work ethic was non-existent.

Man, I hope the Jayhawks win a road game today.

7 years, 2 months ago

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