At Noon today I posted in this blog that the University of Kansas would not hire Charlie Weis or Phillip Fulmer to be their new head football coach. Five hours later they did just that as word leaked that Weis would move from the University of Florida, from his offensive coordinator position, to Lawrence to lead the Jayhawks' football program.
What's this all mean, beyond the obvious irony of Weis returning to the area only one year removed from his stint at the Kansas City Chiefs?
One, this move immediately raises the profile of the Kansas football program. Turner Gill was a ho-hum hire two years ago. Weis will make one of the lead stories on ESPN's Sportscenter.
Two, it proves that Sheahon Zenger, Kansas' athletics director, is willing to take a risk. It's pretty obvious that Zenger wanted Mike Leach and then had to scramble once that verbal deal fell through. He quietly and methodically went about his search such that the Weis announcement was indeed a surprise.
Three, Weis has now sat in three different coaching jobs in three years. He said he moved to Florida for family reasons. How does he now rationalize this move to Kansas? Has Weis become a restless coach or was the allure of a head coaching gig too much to pass up? Maybe Weis knew that the Florida job was simply an interim until he was offered a head position somewhere else.
Four, Weis has a reputation for having a prickly personality. How will that personality impact his ability to hire a quality staff much less get into recruits' homes? A key for Weis will be finding assistants (can you say current Kansas coach Reggie Mitchell) who can recruit and, in particular, recruit Texas.
Five, we know that Weis can coach the offensive side of the football. So, one would think that he would find creative ways to get the ball into the hands of KU's stable of quality running backs--James Sims, Darrien Miller, Tony Pearson and Brandon Bourbon. Pearson, in particular, should flourish under Weis' system.
Finally, Weis has three Super Bowl rings. He's been involved with winning programs. There is a certain legitimacy that Kansas will gain simply by having Weis as its head coach. The challenge now will be to take this hire and turn it into something bigger--hire a top-flight defensive coordinator, recruit a true Division 1 quarterback and/or lure Dayne Crist (a Weis recruit to Notre Dame) to transfer, and "coach up" the promising young players from Kansas' quality recruiting classes of the past two years.
Weis will be officially introduced tomorrow afternoon and then will find himself in front of the Kansas faithful at halftime Saturday of the marquee Kansas-Ohio State basketball matchup. It's a moment many wondered whether Zenger could pull off. So, let's take a moment to applaud KU's athletics director for conducting a search which was well controlled, produced a high-profile result, and has the potential to be a needed big step of restoring some swagger back in Kansas' non-basketball sports activities.