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The Curious Tale of Charlie Weis

If Charlie Weis' time in Kansas is almost over, where do we look to to find our next head coach?

David Purdy

I don’t think many of us expect the Jayhawks football team to be any good this fall. We’ve already covered a few of the teams’ issues in previous articles. The players aren’t that good together, the coaching hasn’t quite got it figured out, and the momentum isn’t in their favor. We’ll do a few position-by-position articles coming up shortly, but for now, let’s focus on the main guy at top: Charlie Weis.

The tale of Charlie Weis is curious one. For Weis, his story is kind of like rags-to-riches…back to rags. Once the head coach of one the most storied college football teams in history, Weis now finds himself struggling to win multiple games with one of college football’s worst teams.

Charlie Weis became only the second Notre Dame alumnus to coach his former alma mater. After leaving the Patriots in 2004, Weis was hired as the new Fighting Irish’s head coach. Fresh off a nice Super Bowl run with New England, expectations were set high for the former Franklin High School football coach. Although the previous Notre Dame coach, Tyrone Willingham, didn’t have much success, he did manage to recruit some decent players. Brady Quinn and Jeff Samardzija led to Fighting Irish to a 9-2 season during Weis' first year. Having had a good start to his first year, Weis signed a very controversial 10-year extension with Notre Dame. Not even halfway through his contract, Weis was kicked out of South Bend.

Since leaving Notre Dame on a sour note, Weis has struggled to properly call an effective offense for team. The lone exception was the Kansas City Chiefs’ 2010 run-heavy squad. That affair didn’t last long, however, as Weis bolted for the University of Florida a year later. To say that Weis’ tenure in Florida was a failure is an understatement. The Gators’ offense fell to 102nd ranked nationally, averaging just 334 yards per game.

Hoping to find success in the Midwest again, Weis came to Lawrence with the intention of building a team and staying for five years. So far, Weis’ tenure in Lawrence has been less than perfect. Perhaps the biggest news Weis has made since arriving in town was his comments before the 2013 season. Weis called out the team, and himself, for their poor play in the previous year. He shared to the national media that he told recruits that if they could not start in Kansas, perhaps they were playing the wrong sport. A jaded Weis lit a fire under the entire Kansas team, which unfortunately didn’t produce the results he hoped for. He followed a 1-11 season with a 3-9 season; an improvement of sorts, but still another disappointing year for Weis.

How did the former Super Bowl champion coach fall from such great heights? Charlie Weis never was that good of a coach to begin with. That’s the simple answer. The only reason that I bring this up is because a lot of students believed that KU would finally be good again just because Charlie Weis’ was a known name. Sure, at one point Weis had some cachet to an extent, but that does not translate into wins. I know most of the readers on the site know that already, but for the many KU fans that bring up Weis’ previous victories as a coach as validation that he will turn it around here, this needed to be addressed. Forgive me if I’m stating the obvious here, but there were just too many fans in the past few years who counted on the Jayhawks’ success just because Charlie Weis used to be talked about on ESPN.

His success in New England should be credited largely in part by Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Those two guys are what made the early 2000s Patriots, not Charlie Weis. You can give Turner Gill that roster and even he can make the playoffs. His time in Notre Dame was spent using recruits brought in by his predecessor. Once it was time for the full on Charlie Weis show in South Bend, the jig was up and Notre Dame saw that he was not the coach they thought they hired.

It’s year three here and no real progress has been made. I’ll admit, the recruiting of the junior college players has me intrigued, and there are some real athletic players on this team, but I just do not see this team competing this year.

So now what? I guess we can hope to continue to build the roster with junior college standouts, gradually improve, wait two years and pray to land our new savior of a head coach falls on our laps. Until then, it looks like we’re stuck with Charlie for a while.

The general idea of this article is to generate discussion on the future vacancy of the head coaching position. Weis said he only wanted to stay here for five years. I doubt he lasts until then, but where do you guys think we’re heading afterwards? Promotion from within? Hire an unknown coach, hungry for his chance? Hire a former "good" coach and hopes it pans out…again? It’s not like Urban Meyer is going to be knocking on our door anytime soon, so what kind of coach can we realistically expect to be snagged up by Kansas after Weis is gone?

Comment below on who your ideal next head coach would be.