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Charlie Weis at Kansas: Who Did I Really Expect?

 

A couple of weeks ago, I got off on Kansas for firing Turner Gill after two season, and yes, part of interest in this is because I’m a Nebraska fan. But the sheer arrogance of the move prompted me to write, and since Kansas now has hired Charlie Weis, I feel the need to weigh in again on the move, which I consider to be proof of the fact that Kansas indeed has too high an opinion of their football program. At least now they have the perfect coach for such a program

I know some people would expect me to offer I was wrong speech, saying that I whiffed on my prediction that Kansas wouldn’t get a big time head coach. I will say this: Kansas did get a notable coach in hiring a former Notre Dame head coach, but they could have gotten a much notoriety if they’d hired Ty Willingham or Bob Davie. (Perhaps New Mexico is a job that Kansas football should be compared to.) Yes, Chuck Weis took Notre Dame to two BCS Bowls and had an overall winning record with the Irish, and many Kansas fans probably watched him succeed with the Chiefs a year ago. It makes some sense.

But the fact that Kansas hired Charlie Weis only proves that neither party had a better option. Let me ask the average Kansas fan: Ty Willingham got a much better job at Washington when he was fired from Notre Dame, and people knew he couldn’t coach. Do you really think that Weis would be taking the worst job in the Big 12 (see your record) if he had a better choice of college head coaching jobs?

I know what you’re going to tell me-Weis will be the disciplinarian that Mangino and Mason where, and we’re going to have success again. But let’s look at some things closely. Weis went 9-3 and 10-3 at Notre Dame with Willingham’s players his first two years. Then, when the roster was dominated by his own recruits, the Irish went 3-9, 7-6, and 6-6. Remember what I told you about college coaches: it’s the pretty boy recruiters who win big. Pete Carroll was 5-0 against Weis, and three of the wins were blowouts. Right now, Kansas has tremendous opportunity to recruit in Kansas City, now that Missouri has left the Big 12, and Charlie Weis looks like the perfect sabotage. Expect Mack Brown and Bob Stoops to get their share of wins against Weis.

Now, many Kansas fans will say that this is the buzziest hire Kansas could have made, and yes, there is some value in media attention. But media attention can’t decide a hire. The long-term interests of the school have to be considered. Texas Tech got a lot of buzz when they hired Bob Knight, and indeed, they did make the tournament many of his years at Tech. But the second he retired, Texas Tech fell out of the College Basketball universe. Sure, Weis may be able to pull some strings his first couple years, and maybe you even make a bowl game and on Sports Center for a few bits, but ultimately, what will that get you? In the end, Kansas will just look like a girl at the bar with too much makeup on.

Also, consider how embarrassing it could look from a league perspective. You’re going to run a pro-style offense in a league that runs the open spread and were 45-40 is a typical final. Remember what happened when Bill Callahan tried to run a similar offense at Nebraska? It kind of worked for two years when a pretty good JUCO quarterback fell in his lap, and in the other two years, the program was a mess. And that was with much better athletes than what Kansas has. So if this doesn’t work, not only could you loose a lot, but you could look horrid doing it. Kansas relies heavily on Texas for recruits, and every other school in the Big 12 can sell them on offenses that are just like their high school offense, where they can come in and play immediately. Weis can’t sell that.

To the credit of Kansas media, they haven’t oversold Weis’ hire, some even admitting that it’s a desperate move (again, proof Kansas fired a coach too soon and better coaches didn’t want the job). Of course, they wont take the next logical step and condemn KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger for firing Gill in the first place.

So Kansas, enjoy the attention Weis brings to your program now. Just know that, in the short term, it will likely get you no more than a couple of season with between four to six wins over the next few seasons. And if it becomes obvious in Weis is a bad fit midway through his second season, you may not be able to get rid of him as easily as you got rid of Turner Gill. That’s the greatest risk of Charlie Weis as a coach at Kansas.

Kansas Football’s bonheaded move

This weekend, the university of Kansas did its best to top former Nebraska Athletic Director Steve Pederson in coaching firing arrogance. While they didn’t have a 58-19 coach to fire, Kansas did its best in dismissing Turner Gill just two seasons, where Gill went 5-19. The consensus of the Kansas media was that Gill had too many blowout losses (of Kansas’ ten games against BCS opponents this year, only two were closer than a touchdown) and that he was too nice of guy to win at a school were only tough-as-nails coaches like Glen Mason and Mark Mangino had limited success. To top it off, such beat writers have suggested that Kansas does have good enough players to compete in the Big 12 now. Oh please, get over yourselves.

First, let me get some straight about Kansas. The quality of the Kansas football job has declined significantly since the job was open to years ago. With the new Big 12, Kansas only controls three of its non-conference games instead of four and has to play the six bad boys of the former Big 12 south every year, so the schedule is significantly tougher. If you think that doesn’t matter, remember the best team Kansas beat in their 2007 Orange Bowl regular season was a 7-5 Texas A&M team. With a lot of the same team returning the next year, Kansas went 7-5. Mark Mangino went 23-41 in conference games, against the Big 12 north without a dominate program. You’re not as good as you think you are.

Now that Baylor has their act together, Kansas football simply is the worst football job in the Big 12 now, plain and simple. This is the new college football landscape, where, if you choose to be a basketball school and ignore football all together (ala Duke and most of the Big East), you’re going to get left behind. The only thing you can do worse than ignore football is to ignore football, then come back and act like you care about it, like Kansas is trying to do. I’m saying you have to turn into Nebraska or even Iowa, Kansas. What I’m saying is, if you’re not going to care about football, you have to give Turner Gill four to five years to build a program. Unless there is a massive player revolt or the team completely (and from the looks of it, there isn’t-Kansas played pretty well against rival Missouri), you have to give Turner Gill more time. And if you’re going to take the Big East mentality and not care about football, why make your bad football job even worse? Even Duke, who pretend they don’t play football, has kept every coach they’ve had in the last twenty years at least four seasons, which makes the job more attractive. Last time out, they got a former SEC head coach to take the job

And now that you’ve fired him, do you really expect a marquee coach to want your job? Last time around, you bandied about the name Jim Harbaugh, a ridiculous joke that you thought you could get a coach who had his pick of either the Michigan job or an NFL job. Now, who will want to go into a league that is dominated politically by Texas (who could leave at any second) and whose second to worst football program upset a top-10 team on the road and whose coach went 13-0 playing SEC competition? Who do you think you are?

And as far as the thought that Gill couldn’t succeed at Kansas because he’s a nice guy like Terry Allen, do you really think you should use your own history a measuring stick for success? Glen Mason had a loosing record at Kansas, ten games under .500 in conference play, just like Mangino did. You’re hardly the beacon for success. Evidently, you’ve learned nothing from the way college football has progressed in the last ten year: a surly drill sergeant coach doesn’t work coaching major college football. Look at all the top college football coaches-Bob Stoops, Mack Brown, Urban Meyer, Les Miles, Nick Saban, Chip Kelly, Brett Bielama. Only Saban is more strict than seller, and even he can be somewhat charming when he has to be. And speaking of Mack Brown, he had a run of success at North Carolina, your equal in basketball, of 69-46, and he’s not going to be mistaken for a drill sergeant any time soon. Once again, get over yourself. Look outside you’re little world to get a clue on how to succeed.

Ultimately, this is a case of a school thinking that is so much more important than it is. Kansas will be lucky to find an experienced coach willing to come work in their let’s-ignore-football-and-whine-when-we-don’t-win mentality. Best case scenario, they pluck a superior position coach assistant a few years before he’s ready for a major job (ala Bowling Green landing Urban Myer, then wide receivers coach at Notre Dame). In any case, Kansas has sent a sign that they expect great results from a coach, even with mediocre resource. By the way, the old track around your football stadium doesn’t help your case that you really care about football, either.

Betting thoughts on Oklahoma State-Iowa State and Kansas-Texas A&M

Iowa State (+28.5 vs Oklahoma State) is a program that I follow with some closeness (given that I have to go to Ames for work frequently, I end up reading their papers and listening to their crappy sports radio). Typically, under Head Coach Paul Rhoads, they are team that can get up in spots, against Nebraska in 2009 and last year, last year at Texas (before the Horns went into a complete tailspin) and this year against Iowa and on the road at Uconn and Texas Tech. Once again, he’s got a team that has five wins and needs one more to go to a bowl game. The Cyclones strength is their run, lead by running back James White (4.8 ypc) and quarterback Jarret Barnett (5.2 ypc) who could spell Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein, who had a lot of success against Oklahoma State. Iowa State has had two weeks, to prepare and comes off two wins, boosting their confidence. (Coming into their road upset of Nebraska in 2009, they had won or been in contention late in their last four games.) This will be a game night, and I have been to a night game at Jack Trice Stadium against Nebraska in 2006. If the crowd gets going, it will be an intimidating atmosphere; those fans know how to be loud, and this will be a crowd of at least 50,000. And unlike Oklahoma State, his will be one of the few games that Iowa State has been in the spotlight this year. The Cyclones should get up for this one.
But let’s look more closely at Oklahoma State. The Cowboys are going on the road on a short week, with what could be the biggest game in school history on deck in two weeks against Oklahoma, with a chance to go to the BCS Title Game on the line. Both those factors would be reason enough to fade the Cowboys, but let’s look a little deeper. OSU’s three lowest point totals of the season are 30 at Texas A&M (on grass), 37 against Arizona (short week), and 38 against Texas (grass). (Texas and Texas A&M are Oklahoma State’s only two games on grass this season.) Now they have to play on a short week on grass. In addition, the forecast for Ames calls for twenty mile an hour winds on Friday, with temperatures around 45 degrees. While it may not be frosty, it may be a challenge to get the ball down field, forcing an explosive offense to be patient.
The line opened at Oklahoma State -26 and quickly jumped to -29 where I bet Iowa State. Yesterday, it went back down to -27 but has returned to -28.5. I wouldn’t be surprised if you could get -29 before kickoff, as the public money should be on the Cowboys. (As Bryan Leonard of pregame.com says, the public loves to beat teams who score a lot.)
So all in all, I feel Iowa State is a particularly solid play here. While the Cowboys have been one of the top teams in College Football against the spread this year, their in a situation where they could have a let down and it’s not their ideal circumstances. I’d call for 38-17 Oklahoma State win, and would not be surprised if Iowa State was even closer in the second half.

Kansas(+31) at Texas A&M

This is a betting situation where you get value on a dog against a favorite who is a letdown spot. Texas A&M is 5-5 and 2-8 against the spread. Last week, the Aggies played four overtimes at Kansas State before loosing to the Wildcats. It may have been the last straw in a particularly disappointing year for the Aggies, based on their preseason expectations. Texas A&M is a program that typically underperforms and can’t deal with expectations.
Kansas, while they are 2-8, have played well the past two weeks, missing a field goal that would have sent the game to overtime, and missing an overtime two point conversion that would have won the game against Baylor. Their self-esteem is up, and now they get an opponent who might overlook them. Turner Gill is in his second year at Kansas, and is starting to feel they heat having won only 5 games so far and only one in the Big 12, so they will likely try hard to score even if the game is out of hand. They have one of the best running games in the Big 12, and this should be able to shorten the game.
While I think Texas A&M will beat Kansas, I think that the Jayhawks will stay in the game and still be playing hard even after the game maybe over. Texas A&M wins but Kansas covers 41-17. I haven’t bet this yet, and will wait up until game (12 ET) hoping to get some more points on the Aggies.

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