It’s been a couple weeks since Kansas football coach Charlie Weis made some waves at Big 12 media day, but as TheSportsNotebook was doing its Big 12 football preview for today’s college football coverage, I harkened back to Weis’ remarks, and they’re still rubbing me the wrong way.
Weis told the assembled reporters that his pitch to recruits was simple—the opportunity to play quickly, and the reason for that opportunity. “Have you looked at that pile of crap?”, the coach said referring to his current team. The sad state of Kansas football right now—1-11 under Weis in his first year in Lawrence is his selling pitch.
Let me begin by saying what I don’t have a problem with…
*I don’t have a problem with Weis pointing out to recruits that the opportunity exists to play right away in his program. It’s a clear selling point to a new kid, and fully appropriate to bring it up.
*I don’t have a problem, in general, with a head coach calling his team a pile of crap. My favorite person through the course of my sports lifetime is former Indiana basketball coach Bob Knight, and we all know the General has used some harsher terminology than that.
But Weis’ comments and the venue he chose were out of line, and here’s why…
*The harsh reality is this—the kids playing football at Kansas aren’t, by the standards of the Big 12, very good. It’s one thing to call out players who are not playing up to their capability, it’s quite another to take players who just aren’t suited for this level of competition and throw them under the bus in a public venue.
*The public venue is another irksome point. If word got out that Weis called his team a pile of crap in practice, I could really care less. If a coach of a genuinely talented team decided to go public as a motivational ploy, I’m okay with that. But again, was there a reason to humiliate these kids in public?
*Let’s get real—Charlie Weis isn’t to football what Bob Knight is to basketball. Charlie Weis is, at least thus far, a failed head football coach. He took Notre Dame to a couple of BCS bowl games when he still had his predecessor’s players. As soon as Weis’ own recruits moved into key roles, Notre Dame went into the tank and played the worst caliber of football we’ve ever seen in South Bend.
If you’re going to shoot your mouth off, build up some credibility first. Given the context, it’s fair to say that Weis is throwing college kids under the bus to salvage his own tarnished reputation. We should note that Weis built his reputation as the offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots during the Super Bowl years of 2001-04, and while the Pats haven’t won a Super Bowl since, I haven’t exactly noticed a slippage in Tom Brady’s play without Weis’ self-proclaimed genius.
I suppose a Weis defender can argue that he’s trying to motivate a team he really believes in, the kind of tactic I’d say is fine. If that’s true, that what I’ve written here is wrong. But does anyone honestly believe that?
We all understand Weis needs some new players. Maybe he could, for once, try going about it with a little more humility and a little more decency for the players who no more chose a failed head coach like himself than he chose them as players.