Coach Weis embraces football challenges at Kansas
Leave it to first-year Kansas coach Charlie Weis to find a silver lining in his team's 1-10 record.
Weis, the former coach at Notre Dame who recruited several key players on this year's national championship contender, is taking a long-term approach to rebuilding the Jayhawks.
Kansas, which visits West Virginia at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, hasn't had a winning season since 2008. The Jayhawks, losers of 20 consecutive Big 12 games, won five games in their two previous seasons, and they are the only conference member that isn't bowl eligible this year.
Weis, however, remains undaunted and resolute about the task at hand.
“Until you start winning more football games, even the biggest fan is going to have to be a bit skeptical and understandably so,” said Weis, a longtime NFL assistant who has a 36-37 career record as a college coach. “I love when people say, ‘Why did you take this job?' Well, I didn't take the job to go 1-10. I took it because I felt this would be a challenge, taking this team and turning it from a program at the bottom to back to not only respectability but being a perennial winning football team.”
Despite losing 10 straight games following a season-opening win over South Dakota State, there have been bright spots, including the emergence of a running game — second-best in the Big 12 — and near-misses against Oklahoma State (20-14), Texas (20-17) and Texas Tech (41-34 in two OTs).
Weis understands that in any rebuilding process it's important to remain positive.
“Tell me a team in the league that runs the ball better than us. I don't know if there is one,” he said. “At the beginning of the year, I couldn't have said that. Now all of a sudden you have this rushing attack. You've got the same runners back next year. You fix your passing game. You could see from my standpoint, I'm drooling to get to the offseason.”
West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen paid homage to Weis — known for his success with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady — as well as defensive coordinator Dave Campo, former coach of the Dallas Cowboys.
“We're going to be at a major schematic disadvantage going against their coaches,” Holgorsen said. “They've got coaches with tremendous pedigree that coached everybody in the world for decades.”
Asked about recruiting players to Kansas, Weis waxed philosophical.
“What's not to like about Kansas? What's not to like about the facility? And if you want to play, a team that has a record that is deficient is one that opens your eyes,” he said. “And you want to know something, they're interested.
“What's missing is we're not winning enough games. And there will be plenty of people saying no. And for those people, the No. 1 reason they say no is because there's a stigma that's attached when a team's losing.
“So our job is to remove that stigma.”
John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.