Whether you are on board with the Charlie Weis hire or think it was the wrong move, I know you are at least a little excited about next season. While I’ve succumbed to my kool aid addiction once again, and many others have joined me, we can’t forget just how downright terrible our team was last season. We still have a looooooooooooooooong way to go.
Charlie Weis has five important steps he must immediately take to help turn Kansas into a contender of some kind, or at the very least, a team that is not terrible.
1) Gain the trust of the current players
Look, I know that some guys are going to jump ship, and that is fine. We must keep in mind, however, that Gill was very well liked by the team (who wouldn’t want to live it up at Dave and Busters?) and this isn’t a situation similar to 2009, when we replaced a legendary jerk with a choir boy. I think the biggest thing Weis can sell his players on is simply winning. Assure them that if they put in the work, learn the schemes and play as hard as they can every snap, he will get them to winning. Kansas has had three straight losing campaign and these players do not know how to win games. Weis needs to help them understand that this can be changed.
2) Revive the fan base
His speech at the Phog was a nice start, and all his PR mumbo jumbo will help get people excited. The biggest thing he can do is win some freaking games. Kansas football is still in a fragile place. 2009 destroyed a lot of momentum and confidence in the fan base. I knew guys who jumped off the bandwagon after KU lost to North Dakota State. Also, let’s just be frank: Kansas needs its donors and revenue from the fans more than ever these days. Need to fund whatever Perkins is doing (probably plotting to take over the world Dr. Evil style) and Gill’s vacations when he isn’t molding young men at Liberty.
3) Fix the defense
Hey wait a minute, Weis doesn’t do defense! Well, no, but he can hire a top notch staff to do this for him. I’m not worried about the offense. Weis is already on the verge of injecting it with some talent and we’ve done well recruiting here in the past. However, the defense has been absolutely atrocious, and Kansas is not going to compete without a drastic turn around. Hire a top notch defensive coordinator and assistants, guys who will preach fundamentals and get the most out of their players.
Derr, I know, but let’s get specific. I’m not worried about Weis and his staff landing a highly sought QB or two. Heck, there are already rumors about transfers. Kansas needs to keep addressing the trenches, depth on both the offensive and defensive line is crucial. One good aspect from the Gill reign of terror is that we signed a bevy of offensive lineman. Great, go get more and get better ones. Get some defensive tackles. Both lines need to be strengthened before we can win any games. Addressing the JUCO circuit isn’t a bad idea, we need playmakers on the defensive side of the ball. Down the road, Bill Snyder seems to mine this area to get a guy with some experience to boost a position. I hope we do the same.
5) Instill toughness/swagger
Every year, opposing coaches and players would always say the same thing about Mangino’s teams: above all else, they were a tough, blue collar type group who worked their ass off. Mangino’s 2009 team lost this, and we saw the result. Gill’s teams never had it, because it comes from the coaches. I’m not advocating anything near what Mangino was accused of, but we need to bring a swagger back to the team. In 2006-2008, our team had an edge to it. The linebackers wanted to bring the wood on every hit. Guys on offense felt like they couldn’t be stopped. Our coaches got creative and used trick plays, went for it on fourth down.
Weis is inheriting kids that pretty much only know losing. Kanasas has won only two conference games in the past three years. Let that soak in for a minute. To implement change, it starts in the players’ minds.
There you have it, short and sweet. It is a long road ahead, hopefully we are in for better days.