Charlie Weis seems to have his whole tenure at Kansas mapped out already. The program hired the former Notre Dame head coach, who has bounced around the past few years between the college and professional ranks, to take over the Jayhawks’ fledgling football program, a move that shocked the college football landscape.
But Weis has it all mapped out. It seems he wants to take a page from rival Kansas State’s book and build the program into a team that can consistently go 10-2, as the Wildcats have done this year. And Weis seems to believe he can get the program there in five years and then he’ll retire and hand the keys to one of his assistants. Let’s check back in five years and see how that plan goes.
Charlie Weis joined KCSP in Kansas City with Bob Fescoe to discuss what sold him on Kansas, why it was a better opportunity than others he’s been presented with, his family situation, what he learned about assembling a staff when he was at Notre Dame, his five-year plan, his biggest mentors and how long it takes to get a program up and running.
What sold you on the University of Kansas?:
“At the beginning of the day, I thought it was just like a cursory interview. And the more we talked, the more intrigued I became about the possibilities. Obviously I really enjoyed my year in the Kansas City area last year with the Chiefs, but for family reasons we had to get out of here, especially to take care of my daughter. But the more and more [we] talked, the more I liked what Kansas had to offer and I thought, ‘Why not?’ This is as good an opportunity as I’ve seen come along. I think it provides me a great chance to take a program that’s on the losing side and turn it into a winner.”
Why was this such a great opportunity compared to others?:
“When you look at a program that has facilities like you do, that’s willing to spend the money like they are, that’s 2-10, when your interstate rival — who you’re competing against for the same recruits — is 10-2, the logical question you ask is why can’t you be teh 10-2 team instead of the 2-10 team. I don’t know the answer to that yet, but that’s where I want to start.”
You mentioned your daughter and the need to leave. Why, then, come back?:
“That was part of the reason why I took this job. My daughter is not leaving the school she’s in in Florida. Therefore, my wife’s not leaving. … My wife’s going to be where my daughter is. I had to set up lines of transportation that made it a little easier for me and my wife. What I’ve done, contrary to popular reports where Kansas is flying my wife all over the free world, I have said up a way for my wife and daughter to fly back and forth at my expense … so that we’re still a family.”
What’s one thing that you learned from Notre Dame that you know you have to do differently or change this time around?:
“I think that the biggest problem I had when I got to Notre Dame, even though I won big the first two years and went to two BCS games, when I composed my staff, I was coming from 15 years in the NFL and didn’t really know the college coaches the way I know them now. I think the one area where it’s totally different this time in hiring the staff … is chemistry. I think that chemistry on a coaching staff is a critical factor to the success of any college program, both on and off the field and especially in recruiting.”
How do you respond to the concern that this may just be a quick stop for you?:
“It’s going to be a quick stop. It’s going to be five years. That’s the quick stop. I’m going to be here for five years, because my wife and I had planned for me to be working at Florida for the next five years and then try to be put in a situation where we can walk away. … What we’re going to do here is we’re going to go try to turn this program into a perennial winning program and then try to have it where one of the guys on this coaching staff takes over.”
Who’s your biggest mentor?:
“You have to say the Bills. I don’t think you can separate them because I think they were two unique individuals. Parcells and Belichick are quite unique. … Parcells taught me the psyche of the game. I think Belichick’s two greatest strengths are both his insight and his foresight to the game.”
Realistically, how long does it take to get a football program up and running?:
“Honestly I believe a full recruiting cycle. You can get them better in a hurry and sometimes things can fall into place for you, but I think you have to go a full recruiting cycle where you know everyone you’ve brought in the program and their strengths and weaknesses.”