The Kansas Jayhawks have concluded spring practice, and we had a chance to catch up with head coach Charlie Weis. This interview includes his thoughts on the spring season, talk about the Big 12, college football playoffs, how the heck he wound up in Lawrence and when Kansas will play Missouri again.
Q: Just having wrapped up your first spring at Kansas. How much did you get installed? Did you get everything accomplished that you wanted?
A: No. There's a lot of things that we didn't do because of personnel. For example, we only had a couple of scholarship tight ends on campus in the spring and there are a couple of packages where I like to use multiple tight ends. It's tough to practice and get things installed and taught with only two in spring practice. Conversely we have a group of junior college defensive linemen coming in and a fifth-year guy coming in so we had to keep it simple for a lot of what we're doing and now we'll wait until the reinforcements get here.
Q: How much time was spent just learning players in the spring? Forget installing a new offense and defense.
A: When recruiting ended from February to the end of April, we got to know our players really well and our staff got a chance to blend things together. We got in a good portion of the offense, defense and special teams. I'm happy with where we are now but you've seen KU play - we've got a long way to go to be competitive on a weekly basis.
Q: Is it as simple as just not having enough talent?
A: It's just not one thing. You always need to get better football players but the players that we have here right now are the players that we have here. I think the most important thing is that you don't point fingers at anyone before you. That doesn't get you anywhere. I think that our most important job is to coach the heck out of these guys and push them to be the most they can be and be competitive on a weekly basis and win more football games.
Q: A lot of what you've done in regard to recruiting has come through transfers namely some key players at quarterback. How does the most important position on the field look going into the summer?
A: Well Dayne (Crist) is the runaway starter. He knows the offense so much better than everyone else not to mention the fact that he's a really good football player. For Dayne that's a big plus. Jake Heaps who came from BYU is ineligible to play this season because he's a legitimate transfer. He'll have to sit this year and then will have two-years to lay after Crist leaves. We have other guys coming too but they won't be here until next week.
Q: How did your experience at Notre Dame better prepare you for this opportunity at Kansas?
A: There were two things - first of all, when I took the Notre Dame job I had been in the NFL for 15 years so coming in there were two things that I learned that are more important than anything else. Staff chemistry is very, very important. You just can't hire guys with good reputations. You've got to get guys who mesh well together which I thinkwe've done this time around. Secondly, you can't look at college football players like you do pro football players because there's a big difference in an 18-year-old kid walking in the door and a 22 or 23-year-old young man walking out the door. You can't talk to them the same.
Q: There's pressure to win every where. Turner Gill got two seasons to prove that he could do the job in Lawrence and now you're his successor. Is there anywhere in college football where there is more pressure on a head coach than in South Bend?
A: Part of Notre Dame is that it's so national. Whatever you do winds up on national news. If you say anything the least bit controversial you can bet that you'll hear it, see it or read it on the latest line later on that evening. The bottom line is that it doesn't matter where you go- you still have to push yourself to be the best you can be as a coach just like players do and I think that pressure is something that is self-inflicted. Pressure is how you handle a situation not as much about what everyone is saying.
Q: You were offensive coordinator with the Kansas City Chiefs for a season then moved to Gainesville to do the same for Will Muschamp and the Gators. Did you just get that head coaching itch again?
A: To be perfectly honest with you - there were a lot of jobs especially in the NFL that were open the same time this one was. Two years ago I spent a year in Kansas City and I really loved the Kansas City area but I was having some issues with my daughter who has special needs and we had to move. Once we got her down there and settled - the phone calls began. When Kansas called I got the same inquisitive look that other people would have but knowing that just a short time ago they were winning 10-games and going to the Orange Bowl - you knew that there had to be a way to get them back on the winning track sooner rather than later.
Q: When you look at the Big 12 with Texas, Oklahoma - you add TCU and West Virginia plus right down the road Bill Snyder has the Wildcats relevant again - what do you see?
A: The Big 12 is a tough league and you're going to have a tough time trying to win every time you play. Let's not rule out Iowa State who went to a bowl game last year. There isn't a gimme in the conference. My job is to make sure that Kansas isn't a gimme either. That's what we are trying to do here in Lawrence.
Q: By the end of next month - there might be a new college football playoff format set. What would you like to see happen in regard to a new postseason situation in college football?
A: First of all I'm a playoff guy after all of the years that I spent in the NFL. The playoffs were just wonderful. Every other sport has a playoff - why not Division 1 college football. The only thing is that I don't think anyone is rooting for the bowls to go away so they are going to have to find some way to use the bowls as part of the system whether it's a four-team playoff or a Plus One.
Q: A lot of fans are going to miss the Border Showdown with Missouri. When are you going to play the Tigers again?
A: I don't make the schedule. You're asking the wrong guy (laughing). Look, here's what we should do. They are trying to get in to NCAA legislation of possibly having an exhibition game against another team instead of a spring game. I say we do that-play it at Arrowhead and give all of the money to charity.
Dave Barr is a Contributor for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.