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Big 12 football: Trying to make sense of Charlie Weis

COMMENTARY — Is new Kansas coach Charlie Weis a quarterback savant about to work his magic on Dayne Crist? A blowhard who really believes there's not much difference between Kansas and Notre Dame? Both?
by Berry Tramel Modified: August 16, 2012 at 6:17 pm •  Published: August 16, 2012

Charlie Weis is hard to figure.

One minute you think he's a doofus who keeps getting hired to coach football. The next minute you think he knows what he's talking about.

One minute you think he's been riding the Tom Brady gravy train for almost a decade, the next minute you think he really does have a knack for developing quarterbacks.

So I don't know what to think about Weis. But I do know what to think about the Kansas football Jayhawks.

They are the 10th school in a nine-team league.

So what can it hurt for KU to have hired Weis? The Jayhawks have nowhere to go but up as the 2012 season approaches, bringing in the Weis era.

Or at least the Weis season. This is Weis' fourth job in the last four years – Notre Dame head coach 2009, Kansas City Chief offensive coordinator 2010, Florida U. offensive coordinator 2011. Who knows how long Weis will stick around?

Weis is coming to a program that had a total of one Big 12 victory the previous two years, under Turner Gill, and that's not even what alarms Weis most.

“Maybe even more important were not the losses last year but how badly they lost so often,” Weis said. The Jayhawks lost Big 12 games by 42, 30, 38, 43 and 54 points.

“And I think that the first thing you better do is get your team to be more competitive on a weekly basis,” Weis said. “To be honest with you, I think it's a very challenging situation.”

At least Weis has a big name, courtesy of the New England Patriots and Notre Dame. And at least he is built along the lines of Mark Mangino, the defrocked KU coach who before being fired for mistreatment of players did a decent job, including a 12-1, Orange Bowl season in 2007.

Weis is drawing some interest from decent football players. Notre Dame quarterback Dayne Crist transferred to KU and is eligible immediately.

“He's the most honest individual I've ever met in my life,” Crist said. “Tells you the truth whether you want to hear it or not.”

Weis does not really come across as a charmer, and Crist says that's accurate. “He was the only coach that ever got under my skin in recruiting. He challenged me as a recruit before I was committed. Said, ‘Hey, I understand if you're scared of competition.' I forgot what he said after that. I was just so furious.”

Crist says Weis' ability to coach quarterbacks “speaks for itself.”

Of course, spending four years coaching Brady will help a guy's resume.

But it is true that Brady Quinn got much better at Notre Dame after Weis' arrival, and Jimmy Clausen turned into a solid QB in his third Notre Dame season, and Matt Cassel was very productive for the Chiefs in Weis' lone season.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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