Over the past several days since the hiring of Charlie Weis at Kansas, the number one argument against the hire seems to be his track record during his time at Notre Dame. Weis failed to live up to the expectations set for the Fighting Irish football program and many believe that he made a lot of classic 'NFL to College' type mistakes during his tenure.
This is obviously an issue that everyone is pretty familiar with on some level due to the high profile nature of Notre Dame football, but what are the impressions and what were the concerns from the perspective of those who followed that program more closely?
To help us with that question we've turned to SB Nation blogger Eric Murtaugh from 'One Foot Down', the Notre Dame authority here at SB Nation. Sunshine pumpers beware. There are no unicorns or rainbows in this post, but as someone who is a cautious optimist as it relates to this hire, I like to hear the good and the bad so I can try to understand what we're looking for and what needs to be different in a Charlie Weis led Kansas football program.
Kansas fans are pretty mixed on this hire. At face value it has some name recognition but obviously he didn't get it done at Notre Dame. What is the general perception of Weis as a coach from his time at Notre Dame and do you think he can be successful at the college level?
There are a lot of mixed feeling with Weis, but I think it's safe to say that the majority of people wish him well (especially since he is a ND alum) and just as many believe he was terribly unprepared to take over a program as large as Notre Dame.
I would like to think that he's learned a great deal from his 5 years at Notre Dame and that he can be a successful head college coach again, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't skeptical. I just don't think it's in his blood to be a head coach at this level.
I think it's pretty clear that Weis thrives in a more professional/NFL atmosphere, but he struggles mightily at the player development and program building aspects at the college level.
Sure he has a high ceiling as an offensive coordinator or play-caller, but he really needs a veteran quarterback who is both smart and very talented for his teams to move the ball. When he doesn't have that (see Notre Dame 2007 & 2008, Florida this past year) his offenses are rather putrid.
In order for Weis to be a successful college coach, I think he'll have to do almost a complete 180 from his time in South Bend. He's going to have to put together a good staff that will stick around and preach fundamentals. He's going to have to learn how to build a program and do all those little things that help on Saturday's, instead of just spending most of his time buried on gameplanning and trying to out-scheme opponents.
Until we see these things happen, I would remain very skeptical.
What would you say were some of his biggest challenges during his time in South Bend?
Weis faced a lot of challenges, many of which were not apparent right away because of his success during his first two years at Notre Dame.
First, there was a small minority of fans and alumni (which grew louder with each year) that never liked the hire. That seems simple enough.
Two, although Weis got quite a lot of favorable press for his charitable efforts and his love for Notre Dame, he wasn't great with the press and his somewhat "arrogant" attitude rubbed a lot of people on campus the wrong way.
Three, his biggest challenge was that he was just not ready to run a big-time college program. He was nearly clueless on what he wanted out of his weight program, he had no cohesion within his staff, he paid little attention to defense, and ran the program very much like an NFL team---slow, lazy practices with little contact.
Certainly some talented players came though South Bend during his time, but almost of all of them lacked fundamentals and player development by the time they graduated. Clearly there are some institutional walls he had to go around, but most of Weis' faults were of his own making.
You hear the knock that he doesn't like to recruit, but he recruited well and then some say he isn't good with alumni but coming from the NFL I guess I wouldn't expect him to. What are some of his "personality" flaws if you will.
Weis just seems brash and quite frankly at times, kind of dumb. As someone who was late to jump off his bandwagon while he was at Notre Dame, I was always shocked at the way he handled the media. Not so much in "he's being a jerk" kind of way, but more so in the sense that he just wasn't media savvy.
Weis just kind of seems like that dorky, offensive-whiz kid who never played football and lacks many social skills, but yet winds up coaching at some of the highest levels of football---which is exactly who he is.
And how about the positive side of things. Obviously he has put together a solid career so what would you say he did well at Notre Dame and if you had argued for Notre Dame to retain him two years ago what would you say?
No, Weis did not do very well at all at Notre Dame.
He deserves a lot of credit for recruiting at a high (if un-even) level and stocking the cupboards after the disaster of Ty Willingham and his nonexistent recruiting efforts. Since recruiting is the life-blood of a program, Weis gets high marks for building up this aspect of Notre Dame.
However, after the mid-point of the 2009 season it was very clear that he was not improving and that it was time for him to go. It was easy to call for Weis' return after 2008---following the disastrous 2007 season that was a result of Willingham's terrible recruiting---but the same mistakes kept happening and the program really was a mess by 2009---wilting in the second half of games, statistically the worst defense in school history, horrible line play, sub-par running game, etc.
How would you describe a Charlie Weis run program?
I could use a lot of adjectives to describe his program, but they aren't very pretty. Some of them would be: soft, listless, unprepared, weak, etc. Pretty much all the exact opposite of the words you would want to use for a good program.
What should we expect from a Charlie Weis team on any given Saturday?
If you have a competent offensive line, two or three playmakers on offense, and a quarterback who might be in the discussion for Big 12 honors in terms of talent----then I think you can expect a decent team that might make some noise within the conference.
If you don't have those things on Saturday, it could get really ugly.
Sorry to be so negative, but I think this is a pretty factual representation of Charlie Weis.
With that said, he has the potential to do some nice things at Kansas---it's just there's so much information pointing to his shortcomings as a leader of a D-1 football program. You can bet he will work his tail off and put in the hours, but will he put those hours in the right place? Or will he still be locked in his office late at night working on schemes?
Like many Irish fans, I wish to see him do well, but I would have a lot of questions. What has he learned from his experience at Notre Dame, with the Chiefs, and at Florida, that will change the way he runs a program? I also think his health is a major issue right now and another huge question mark.
In the end, you could have done worse with the hire I suppose, but it's not one I would have made. I am sure he will boost recruiting over the next two cycles at minimum, but he's not the type of coach who is going to have an immediate impact on Saturday's unless he has those offensive stars in place.
So I guess it could be a good hire in the sense that he should bring in some talent, and in the end, he might leave the program better off than it was before---even if he stays only two or three years.