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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.

Betting thoughts on Notre Dame, and two ACC games

Boston College at Notre Dame (-24): This game is simple. Boston College, even though they’re 3-7 is still somewhat overvalued in the public’s mind, given how frequently they go to bowl games. Even though they’ve won a lot the past twenty years, it has been mainly because they’ve been able to recruit good quarterbacks (the Hasselbeck brothers, Matt Ryan, Brian St. Pierre).

This will be BC’s Super Bowl, for sure, but this is the new Notre Dame. Brian Kelly comes from the school of thought that you shouldn’t be embarrassed to run the score up on anyone, as we’ve seen. Yes, there will be 20mph winds in South Bend, but I still think the Irish can lay thirty or more on BC. It’s always smart to bet Notre Dame early because most their line come out a bit under, knowing that they will get Notre Dame money from the people who always bet Notre Dame. Get the 24 while you can.

Virginia at Florida State (-17): When I first saw that the spread in this game was 17, I thought I would instantly play Virginia. From a motivation standpoint, the Cavaliers on the surface should have more to play for in this game. They are a young team who is just now seeing how much better they can be. They came out hungry in a nationally televised game at Miami earlier this year. Florida State, while they are riding a five game win streak, had their goals for the season shattered back in late September and early October with consecutive losses to Oklahoma, Clemson, and Wake Forest of all teams. Now they are officially out of the ACC title chase, while Virginia would get into the ACC title game by winning its last two game. The Cavaliers would surely be my bet.

But then I dug deeper into the game. Yes, Virginia has improved significantly from the last three non-bowl teams and is motivated to perform well on a big stage (remember, Florida is a huge recruiting state for a team like Virginia). They have stopped rotating players, and have improved greatly since Mike Rocco has taken the majority of snaps at quarterback. They are run based team though, and run based teams usually struggle once they get behind.

But I found that Florida State doesn’t seem to lack a motivational edge in this game. Yes, they may not have met their biggest goals, but they are still hoping for a 10-win season and a good bowl game. This is the Senior Day for a class that underachieved in their first few years, and they want to go out the right way. The most points Florida State has allowed at home this season is 19, a back door cover by rival Miami last week. The second most points they’ve allowed at home were 16 by Maryland, a team with a passing spread offense. Virginia is a run-reliant team who only averages 26 points per game. Florida State averages 34 points a game, so Virginia would like have to score at least 17 to cover.

This feels like a classic dog or pass situation, but if the line drops to -15.5 I’ll take Florida State.

Clemson (-8) at North Carolina State: Like the previous game, I thought for sure I would bet Clemon when I saw the 7.5 which has now gone up to 8. But of course, books give you that line for a reason. They want you think that getting a top-10 as only a touchdown favorite on the road against a team that has four horrible losses (blown out by Cincinnati, Florida State, Georgia Tech, and lost at woeful Boston College) would be an automatic play on the favorite. But there are some caveats here. First, Clemson has reached most of its goals for the year. They are in the ACC Title game, and next week they have their rivalry game with South Carolina, a game they will have to win big if they hope to make a statement for the BCS Title game or an at-large BCS berth. North Carolina State has to win this game and against Maryland next week to become bowl eligible. (2 of their wins are against FCS schools, so only one counts toward bowl eligibility.) Like Iowa State did last night against Oklahoma State, a team on the brink of bowl competition may throw everything and the kitchen sink at the other team. Get a win here, and everyone might just forget about the Tom O’Brien chasing off Russel Wilson. Clemson has done a good job of covering the spread this year, save its last two games. In many instances, even Clemson fans have expected their team to disappoint them, but Clemson has persevered, outside the road loss at Georgia Tech. I’m going to wait until game time to bet this one, hoping to get a few more points on Clemson.


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