Sunday, September 28, 2014

Another KU coaching reign comes to an end

Let's be fair--Charlie Weis inherited a pile of dog dew at Kansas when he arrived on campus in December 2011. The Lew Perkins' hire of Turner Gill was an abject failure at every level--the performance on the field was abysmal, players weren't exactly consistent in their class attendance, and stories of off-field issues were all too common.  Gill failed to connect with fans and his well-worn cliches became the focus of alumni bitch sessions.

Weis righted Gill's wrongs in the classroom and chased off guys who were disciplinary problems, such that he immediately was disadvantaged in competing at a Division I level, much less in the Big 12.

But, make no mistake--today's firing was necessary.  Yes, I know this is Kansas and, yes, I know how many head football coaches have come--and gone--on Mt. Oread.  The issue, beyond the obvious win-loss record, is that Weis lost support of donors, season ticket buyers, students and just about every other audience that is important to a power conference head coach.  In fact, one could argue that Weis NEVER had support of these audiences.  In today's world of college athletics, negative impacts on revenue are never a good thing nor is a lack of competitiveness in a sport that recently dictated which schools had relevance, and which did not, in the realignment discussion.

The hiring of Weis was a splash, for better or for worse, and briefly elevated the visibility of a program that had gone into free fall after an Orange Bowl win and a follow-up season that included an Insight Bowl victory.  Weis came to campus not only to clean up the Gill debacle but to also restore credibility to a program that had a messy divorce with Mark Mangino.  It didn't work.

Weis leaves Kansas with a lot--I mean, a lot--of money coming his way given the continued checks headed to his account from South Bend and the buyout due from KU.  He takes with him his "schematic advantage," his Super Bowl rings, and his job references from Tom Brady.  He also takes with him a grand total of six wins in three seasons at Kansas with two of those W's coming over FCS schools.

The list of issues with Weis are many but, in the end, his most egregious was his inability to find and/or develop a quarterback at Kansas.  KU fans were thrilled when news came of Dayne Crist's transfer to Kansas followed by the same news regarding Jake Heaps.  Both of those guys were recruited to run Weis' pro-style offense.  Silly us--it takes a premier offensive line to run a pro-style offense and Kansas simply did not have the talent up front to protect two immobile QBs.  (The same pro-style offense didn't work in Weis' brief stint at Florida, either.)  And, both highly recruited quarterbacks never displayed the talent that was showcased in their high school offensive systems.  Both players were over-sold to a hungry Kansas public, followed by Weis' praise for the potential of current QB, Montell Cozart.

Kansas fans are now left with what has become an all-too-frequent discussion--who will be the next coach of this now moribund program?  The sexy name will likely be Ed Orgeron with some suggesting that KU make another run for Jim Harbaugh, who was oh-so-close to being in Lawrence three years ago.  My hope is that Dr. Zenger goes for the less splashy but the more solid choice--David Beaty at Texas A&M or Ed Warriner at Ohio State.  Both have spent time in Lawrence, both know Texas high school football, and both look and talk the part.  And, make no mistake--selling the program, to any and all who will listen, may be the most critical qualification of the next head coach at the University of Kansas.  Kansas simply cannot afford anything less than stability and improvement for what, in the current world order of college sports, is the most important program in the athletics department.