Kansas football coach Charlie Weis addressed the media for the final time this spring. During that session Weis addressed the recent dismissals from the program as well as the why's around setting the tone for acceptable behavior early. In addition Weis talks more about team leadership, positives and some concerns in the kicking game that are still lingering this spring.
Kansas head coach Charlie Weis
"Obviously, I let a couple kids go this week and I want to just address the mentality that is involved when you let players go. When you first come into a program and you identify it from top to bottom, the one thing you have to do is set a mentality that matches your philosophy with how things are going to be run. I think that when I came in here, I clearly stated to our players that there is a right way and a wrong way of doing business. I also explained to them that I am a lot better at being a dad than being a coach and I understand that 18-20 year-old kids will mess up in life just like we all did when we were 18-23 years old. There are learning experiences that take place when you are in college, because they No. 1 thing that happens when you are in college is that you grow up."
There comes a time in their stay at Kansas, or at any school for that matter, where they have to determine when enough is enough and when it is time to turn the corner. I think that you can give players a couple of hiccups along the road, but there comes a point where two issues and mentalities are involved with dismissing a player. No. 1 is, if whatever they did is severe enough to let them go right now, but more importantly is when a player has had multiple things occur in their background, that you finally give them an ultimatum and say the next time something happens that is going to be it. Usually when a guy is dismissed from a team it is due to the latter, not the former.
We're not in the business of taking these guys and running them out of here. That is not really what this is all about, but I think it is really important for the football team to understand that the team is more important than any individual player. There is a right way and a wrong way of acting, and although we have all done some immature things in our life, especially at that age, there comes a time where you cross the limit either due to the severity of the crime or more importantly a string of acts that finally say enough is enough.
One of the things I did in addition to dismissing those two young men is yesterday I talked to them (the team) about leadership and tried to put the onus of responsibility a little bit more on the team. So one of things we did yesterday as a team was voted on permanent team captains for our team because as May comes and the majority of our staff is going to be on the road every single day, there will be very little guidance on hand on a daily basis. They will be wrapping up the semester, taking exams, going away for a few weeks then coming back in June. Remember in June, the coaches are not allowed to be coaching them. The next time we will be allowed to get our hands on them is when they report the evening of August 1 and August 2 we will begin. So I think it is very important, especially for a team that is going through a transition to have some leadership on their team that has been documented as far as these are the guys that I am going to when there is a problem because they will be my intermediaries between me and the team."
On voting for team captains during the spring as opposed to later in the summer:
"I don't think it's fair for a guy coming in, in June to be able to be picked a captain. They have not paid the price that these guys have paid since (Scott) Holsopple started the weight program in January. Now is the time that I need the leadership. I don't need it in June, I need it now, when the coaches are on the road recruiting and when I am flying from place-to-place to speak at luncheons and dinners. I need veteran guidance for these players to make sure there is somebody there saying, ‘hey don't do that', or ‘why would you do this?' Those players (who come in June) are going to be all older junior, senior types but I don't think that they have the right to be voted captain without having practiced one practice before we start Aug. 2. I just don't think that's right."
On setting the tone of discipline for the team:
"I think you only get one opportunity to set it right. You only get one chance and you do not get a do-over. It is a common philosophy with coaches that it is always easier to loosen up on a team after it has been rigid than it is to tighten up on a team after it's been loose. I think if you start loose then you have no chance, because then when we try to tighten the screws they are going to look at you and say, ‘where did this come from?' So it is always important in the beginning to set the tone right from the start, this is the way it is going to be. I am not trying to be a drill sergeant here, I am just trying to make practical decisions based off of how people act on and off the field."
On how he treats the spring game:
"We will actually play a game. We won't show everything obviously and use every personnel group due to the lack of numbers, but we will come out, run it and throw it. We will play action, drop back hold some things just so that leaves some questions. I really think you want to line-up and just give them a chance to run and tackle on defense and cover. On offense, you want to see how you are going to run the ball and see the pass efficiency when you go out there. I would not call it a glorified scrimmage because it is going to be more competitive than that."
On the depth of the team for Saturday's spring game:
"As long as we don't sustain any serious injuries here during the next couple of practices, we should be able to have two teams despite the defensive line having to play for both teams."
On if he will look at individual performances as opposed to group performances following the game:
"So many of the players are already playing the majority of the game. You might have a couple extra wide receivers on both teams because that is our deepest position, but for most of the guys there is going to be four DB's (defensive backs) on one team and four DB's on the other team. They all will be playing every play, so I won't be looking at who we will be going to next because that is who is going to be out there. There will be a few guys who rotate through there, but for the most part you will have five offensive linemen playing for one team and five playing for the other team. They will be out there every play and we will see how they do."
On splitting up the team into two for the spring game:
"On Thursday what I need to do is the last half-hour or so at practice is to split into teams so they can practice as just those two teams. I am not taking all day Thursday just to practice a show game, but we will break up for the end of practice. That is true with special teams too, even though it is going to be very vanilla on punt, field goal and field goal block, there are some basic rules that I will get out there."
On meeting spring expectations:
"We have made great strides. I think that there is still a bunch of questions, but there are also a lot of answers too. I have a lot better feel for our football team. I have to make sure that some of our coaches don't get frustrated, because we started talking about the influx of defensive lineman that are going to come, so you have to tell Buddy, ‘Relax Buddy. I really want to sit down with you at the end of the spring and find out from the guys that were here in the spring, who can we count on. Who can we win with, not who can we line up with, who can we compete with.' So there are 10-15 guys out there, if he comes back and says, ‘We can compete with these four,' then I know those are the four going into the fall that we can count on. It depends on who you are. In some cases there's not much coming in, so what you see is what you get. I think we have a lot more answers than we have questions, but we have a long, long road ahead of us."
On not having a lot of depth right now:
"I think it forces you to have a fast track program for these guys coming in here so that you don't try to do too much with them the day they walk in the door and get them confused. You have to get them lined up and ready to go, but we have a game plan in place. If you know anything about me, you know there is a plan in place. We're not going to say, ‘Okay they're coming in, let's wing it now and see how it goes.' I think we have a pretty good idea of how we are going to handle this."
On special teams:
"Right now I am disappointed in our kicking game in general, not just our kickers, but our kicking game in general. The good part about this is that we have been able to identify a number of players that we think are going to make up the majority of core special teams players. There are guys that you guys (the media) like, that I think aren't worth a crap and there is guys that you don't know about very well, that I think are really good on special teams. I am going to play the guys that I like, not the guys that you like. Usually the guys that I like, when I watch the tape, they show up. We had that special teams scrimmage the other day and you guys are watching it, but you're not watching it the same way I'm watching it. I am watching to see, who is the first guy down (the field). You are looking at players. I am watching a kickoff to see the first guy down. Usually the first guy down is the guy you want on the kickoff coverage team. When a guy is on the punt team and they are running with their defensive player, do they stack up with their guy and get in a position where they can make the play? So I am looking for things differently than you guys are looking at them. I'm not looking for the players. I am looking for the performance going down there. I think (special teams coach) Clint (Bowen) would pull his hair out if we had to play a game, but once again, we have a lot more answers than we have questions."
"I am encouraged, because when you are coming to a team that has lost the last couple of years, you really don't know what you are getting in that capacity. Obviously, one of the few people I knew much about was Dayne (Crist). I knew about him, because I had been around him before. You have to watch the players and how they act, and then how the players act to them. There is two types of leadership. There is good leadership and there is bad leadership. That bad leadership usually translates into locker room lawyers. Those are the guys that want to complain about every little thing and they are looking for an entourage to complain to. The only problem is, with the number of players that have been dismissed, that entourage is very small right now. So there is more of that good leadership going on than bad leadership. Once you get to that point, you are starting to turn the corner."
On adding incentives to the spring game:
"I really hadn't gone that far. I think one of the things, if you know me personally, you know that community service and being involved with work outside of football is really important to me. My plan was more for during the season, not at this time. The most important thing for me next week is the last week of school. There are papers and there is that last crunch before exams and then exams (the following week). I think the most important thing these guys can do is finish up the last two weeks academically strong. To me that is more important than anything else they could be doing the last two weeks of school."
On if he is watching certain things on Saturday:
"I would just like to see us go out there defensively and run and tackle and have some fun. I would like to see us sling it around a bit on offense and have some success, especially with the front line guys to see how there continuity is playing with each other. I would like to be able to run the ball in the red zone when people are stacking it up on the goal line and daring you to run it in. Those are the type of things that I would like to see. At the end of the day I would like to see everyone walk off the field healthy, because we are going to need everyone."
On the game day experience:
"I just talked with the band director here, Dr. (Matthew) Smith, this morning about it. I sit there in Allen Fieldhouse, which is obviously the Mecca of college basketball and I love watching our basketball team play. I don't just watch the game, I study Coach Self, because I think he is a great game-day coach. I like the psychology involved. The timeouts when he is hammering them, I really enjoy that. I watch the whole experience. I turn around and I look at the students when they are interacting with the basketball team. I like the pep band. I like the whole experience. For me it's not just a basketball game.
I know when you are 2-10 and 0-9 the key numbers for us, which is what we are - 2-10 overall and 0-9 in the conference - it is tougher for the students to buy in and show that same kind of loyalty and devotion to the football team. I think we have to do something on the field to help that. That goes without saying. I am not that stupid, to plan on these things and not think that things are going to turn out well on a weekly basis. I get it, but at the same time if you don't ever try to make that bond between the football team and the students and the football team and the fans and the football team and the band, then how is it ever going to happen? Just by accident? I don't really believe things happen by accident too often. I think you have to plan for them. You have to be willing to bite the bullet if things don't work out just the way you had them planned. It's really tough to go up in front of your students after losing a football game to sing the alma mater. I have done it, it's tough. Once you start doing it, that's what you should do. It is also tough for the students to stay there until the end of the game to be a part of that. We are going to own up to our end of the bargain. We are going to be there. I am going to start tweeting to death, to start working those students to make sure they are there too. I started today, to put my initial psychological ploys out. It will get a lot worse by the time the season comes around. Really, what I am trying to do is initiate something where we can build something between the team and the band and the students, that is something special. I think if it all works out, it will be a really good thing for the University of Kansas."
On if he has helped last year's seniors with the NFL Draft:
"I spent more time on the front end, not the back end. Prior to interviews (with NFL scouts) I sat down with all of them and I said, ‘You don't know me, but you know that I have connections with everyone right here. I can't really respond to anyone about you, because I don't really know you, but what I can tell you is, this is what's going to happen.' I explained to them how it works. I explained to them the thought process of the teams and how it goes down and if you don't get drafted what your methodology should be. Sometimes a player will take $2,000 to sign as an unrestricted free agent after the draft with some team that he has no chance of making, versus going to another team for nothing, that they have a chance of making. When you make the team, that is when you make some money, not when someone gives you $2,000 to sign. I tried to explain to them the thought process and how the whole thing works. I get more questions that I have coached at the last couple schools. I get more questions from them, because the guys here don't know me. I know some of the guys here told me they appreciated me taking the time, even though I didn't coach them, to explain to them the way the game works. Now I think they are just waiting anxiously to see how this is all going to play out this week."
On Steven Johnson:
"They think he is a nice solid inside linebacker. I think he will have a good chance of being on somebody's team. You don't have to be drafted in the third round to be on somebody's team. He will have a good chance to be on somebody's team and as a player that is all you ask for. Unless you are getting taken high in the first round, money in this league is not made when you first sign coming into the league, money is made on your second contract. That is common knowledge."