Kansas Football Takes Part in Big 12 Media Days

July 24, 2012

DALLAS – The Kansas Jayhawks took their turn in front of the lights and cameras at the 2012 Big 12 Media Days Tuesday, part of the second group of conference football teams to meet the media at the two-day event held at the Westin Galleria.

Kansas quarterback Dayne Crist, offensive lineman Tanner Hawkinson, defensive end Toben Opurum and head coach Charlie Weis spend six hours with various media outlets, answering a wide range of questions reviewing off-season preparations and previewing the upcoming season. Kansas was joined on Tuesday by Texas, Oklahoma State, Baylor and West Virginia. Players and coaches from Oklahoma, Iowa State, Kansas State, Texas Tech and TCU spent Monday morning and early afternoon going through the same schedule.

D. CristWeis was the first to get started Tuesday morning by filming his portion of a Big 12 Conference public service announcement to be aired during the season. Crist and Opurum will also be featured in the video segment, and filmed their portion during the lunch hour. Weis and the Jayhawk players visited local radio stations and filmed segments with national TV outlets, before breaking off individually for television and print media interviews.

More than 500 attendees turned out for the annual media event which marks the beginning of the football season. The Big 12 Conference, which welcomed TCU and West Virginia to the league last month, is tied for first all-time with 14 teams that have finished in the top four of the final BCS standings and leads all conferences with 77 NCAA-recognized national award winners since 1996. Additionally, every football program in the Big 12 has played in a postseason bowl game over the last four seasons.

Kansas opens the Weis era with three consecutive games at Memorial Stadium, beginning with South Dakota State at 6 p.m. on Sept. 1. The Jayhawks arrive on campus for fall camp Aug. 1 and will begin preparation for the season the following day. Weis is scheduled to address the media at 2 p.m. on Aug. 1, an event that can be watched live by subscribing to AT&T Jayhawk All-Access.

The following is an unedited transcript of Kansas head coach Charlie Weis’ press conference from Tuesday’s media day.

Kansas Head Coach Charlies Weis

THE MODERATOR: We’re joined by Charlie Weis from Kansas.

COACH WEIS: So let’s get Penn State out of the way so you don’t have to ask any questions.

My feelings on that is that no one wins. Everyone loses. There’s no winner in that situation. So I prefer not to take any further than that. It’s not a good situation and no one won. There’s no winners there, and so let’s move on from there.


Q. Just following up on that a little bit, obviously you’ve taken a lot of the transfers from other schools and whatnot. Have you given a look at Penn State’s roster at all or anything like that yet?


I’ll elaborate just a tad. So I think that, first of all, you have to be respectful to Coach O’Brien and the people who are trying to make good of a bad situation.

But, at the same time, the rules are the rules. And there’s several players that, when the dust settles, when the dust settles, I think there will be several players that entertain the thought of going somewhere else, especially the way it was presented to them.

So I think that any program that didn’t do homework prior to this decision coming out, you know, was behind on that one.

Q. Charlie, just curious about your perceptions of the coaching fraternity you joined here in the Big 12, any coaches that have reached out to you or any of them that you knew from before you came to KU?

COACH WEIS: Well, I’m already friendly with a few of the coaches in this conference. I’ve been friends with Mack for quite some time. And Tommy Tuberville, we went to visit the troops together years ago and spent a lot of time over there.

Getting to know a lot of people. Actually one of the guys who I have the most respect for is Coach Snyder, and all the people of Kansas will be mad at me for having respect for Coach Snyder, but I was always a big fan of his.

So it’s fun and refreshing to get to know some of these other guys better. But the bottom line is: You want to go beat them; you don’t want to go become their buddies.

Q. Coach, talk about obviously you’re trying to build a program back up in a conference that has three defending champions in it. Talk about what the realistic timetable is and what your realistic expectations are this season trying to do that?

COACH WEIS: Thanks for reminding me, first of all. I think that I have two different issues. Okay. One issue, the one that everyone sees, is the fact that we’re 2-10 and 3-9 over the last two years, having won one conference game in that time frame.

The other one, which I think is maybe even more important, were not the losses last year but how badly they lost so often.

And I think that the first thing you better do is get your team to be more competitive on a weekly basis. Because once you get your team more competitive on a weekly basis, more wins will naturally follow.

I think that that’s the number one job that me together with my staff, I think that we have to permeate all the way down to our players is that we expect them to know what to do and go out and do it hard for 60 minutes.

And I think that at least gives you a chance.

Q. Just a few months ago Dayne Crist was still deciding whether or not he was going to attend Kansas. You go through spring football and here he is today a captain and a representative of the team at Media Days. A lot of the questions that have been asked of other coaches have been of veteran leadership and who has been leading in the offseason. Can you talk about that process with Dayne gelling with the team so quickly and so obviously earning their respect in a short period of time?

COACH WEIS: Well, obviously Dayne and I have known each other since going back to early high school days when we first got involved in the whole recruiting process. But I think that when he came here, it really wasn’t about me selling him on me. Our relationship is wonderful. It was whether or not he thought that he could come in here and be competitive or not.

So he spent the whole time with the offensive line. Shows you he’s a very intelligent young man because he wanted to know whether or not he thought that the offensive line would give him an opportunity.

And I think that he’s such a natural leader that it was easy for the players to follow and the skill players. But I think that if you haven’t won over the offensive line, I think that’s a great place to start.

I was also happy when the team voted for captains that it was a close vote between him and Tanner, because I thought that if there was no one on the existing team that the players thought highly of, that would have sent an awfully bad message to me that no one, none of the previous teammates, were respected or revered, and I think I was very happy the way that all turned out.

Q. You spent a year with the Kansas City Chiefs, and obviously it’s in the same area as Lawrence and all that. Has that helped at all or anything like that, just being somewhat familiar with the KC metro area and being able to recruit and all that kind of stuff?

COACH WEIS: To be honest with you, it’s one of the reasons why I took the job. I personally really enjoyed my time with the Chiefs. I had some — we had some family issues. Most people know I have a daughter with special needs and she had a couple of really tough situations occur in the one year we were there, so it caused us to move out in a short time frame, which wasn’t my intent when I first got there.

But once we got everything settled and got my daughter kind of settled and this job presented itself, it wasn’t a lack of familiarity with Kansas or the Kansas City area. It kind of encouraged us to go ahead and take this job and take this opportunity and see if we can’t take a losing program and make it — turn it into a competitive, winning program.

Q. Coach, you just talked about Dayne and his adjustment to town. We haven’t heard a whole lot about Anthony McDonald, Mike Ragone, the other Notre Dame guys. Do you have any update how they’re adjusting and kind of getting along in town?

COACH WEIS: My blockheads? Yeah, both these guys really like being here. They’re doing well in school, which was always a little bit of a concern when you’re bringing in fifth-year guys. You want to make sure, hey, look it, anyone that’s taken a fifth year somewhere else for anyone who hasn’t figured this one out yet, they’re doing that to enhance their value to play on Sunday. That’s why they’re doing it.

They’re not doing it because they want to go to another school all of a sudden. They want to go somewhere that gives them an opportunity to enhance their value on Sunday.

So both Anthony — Anthony’s behind Manti. Well, that wasn’t looking too well. And Ragone, he would have been behind Tyler Eifert. And if he went back, that wasn’t looking too well either. Because if you picked the two best players on that team that they came from, that’s who they were behind.

So I think that these guys are looking forward to the opportunity to compete to be on the field on a regular basis. And that gives us a lot better chance.

Q. What is it that’s going on at KU and Lawrence that made you think you could — this is a job you could turn around and a program you could build into a winner?

COACH WEIS: Well, that’s a very, very good question. So let’s look at this objectively.

You’re sitting down in Gainesville. You get offered this job. So what do you do? You look at your two closest competitors, proximity-wise, your two closest competitors. So you look at Kansas State and you look at Missouri. How are they doing?

Q. Very well.

COACH WEIS: So I’m looking at it like you. I’m saying, okay, the two schools that are in the closest proximity are both doing fairly well.

So then my job was, once I took the job, is let’s figure out why they’re doing fairly well and see if we can’t close the gap on them quicker than they would like us to.

And you look at what both those programs are doing, solid, winning programs, I think that that’s one of the reasons that gave me reason for optimism, because there’s no reason why you can’t have a third one into the mix and become more competitive.

Time frame, I can’t give you, but I can tell you there’s already two teams doing it, okay, which tells you that it obviously can be done.

Q. You’re coming into a new conference here with a lot of spread offenses, a lot of success with quarterbacks in that situation. And you decide to go to a defensive coordinator who has a lot of NFL experience but hadn’t been involved in college football for a long time. Wonder if you could just describe the thought process you had in going out and hiring Dave Campo.

COACH WEIS: First of all, Dave Campo and I have known each other for a lot of years. And what I’ve always admired about Dave Campo, two qualities besides the fact I like the man, he’s a great teacher and he’s very well respected by the players.

So when you’re a great teacher who is well respected by the players, okay, you always have a chance. I knew that Dave would spend a lot of time — he spent a lot of time on his own going and visiting some of his guys from around the country, okay, that play against the spread to get their ideas.

But at the end of the day it’s going to be Dave and the staff that we assembled around him that make those decisions of how best to do it.

I think he spent a lot more time than he would have liked to going around to visit some different people to conceptually come up with what he wants to do.

But the guy is an energetic, you know, infectious person, who is a great teacher and well respected by the players, and that always gives you a chance.

Q. Coming from a place like Notre Dame, which is so football-centric, now to a place like Kansas that’s more of a basketball school, is that something you just accept, or how do you generate excitement about the same kind of excitement about football as basketball at Kansas?

COACH WEIS: Well, first of all, I love college hoop, so let’s start there. And I get great seats, too. I get great seats.

But you think — let’s think about: Recruiting is the lifeline of every program. Right? All right. So it’s a Saturday afternoon in January. And you’re going out on the fieldhouse with about 20 recruits you’re bringing in. The place is rocking and rolling. The decibel level is well over 100. You’ve got one of the best basketball teams in the country with arguably the best coach on an annual basis playing, and the fans are going bananas.

And what you’re saying to these players coming in, saying: That’s what we want — that’s what we want Memorial Stadium to become like. You’ve got to come here and give them a reason to be that way. I mean, they’re already seeing evidence of what the people are willing to do. But you have to help become part of it.

It’s a wonderful recruiting tool. So most people would look at it as second-class citizens. I play right into that. I mean, you couldn’t have a better recruiting tool than our basketball team.

Q. Coach, along those same lines, people like us would think that coaching at Notre Dame and football and coaching at Kansas are a lot opposite, are much different. But is the difference really that great? Can you tell yet?

COACH WEIS: No. No, really you might say the expectations are different. But everyone wants the same thing.

It’s just the one thing about Notre Dame, as we all know, it’s a national school with a national presence. So anytime you said something, it was national news.

Okay. Well, whether it’s national news or regional news is not really the point. Okay. The Jayhawk fans, you couldn’t get any more exuberant fans than the people who root for the Jayhawks. So really at the end of the day they all want the same thing. They want their team to go out there and play competitive football and win.

And just the fact that the expectations are not exactly the same as far as on a yearly basis, that’s the only place where you could draw the line.

Q. Staying on that same train of thought, with you and your players that have come from Notre Dame into this KU system, what maybe positive aspects have you taken from your time at Notre Dame and maybe what lessons have you learned at Notre Dame that you’re implementing here at KU?

COACH WEIS: Well, anytime you’ve taken a job and you go through an experience and you end up getting let go from a job, what you do after you have some time away is you kind of reflect and look back and say what things would I do different.

I mean, I can’t tell you the number of things that I looked at on that list and said: Weis, how stupid can you be? There’s so many things you did the first time around, you sit there and say: Why did you do that?

So the second — when you’re doing it the next time around, you’ve already had that experience where those mistakes you can minimize. And anyone who is relatively intelligent should understand when you make mistakes, you try to minimize those, and the strengths that you found, you’ve got to play into those.

And I think that’s what I’ve done — that’s what I’ve done since I’ve been at Kansas. I’ll give you one example from my perspective, because you can ask the players from their perspective.

But from my perspective, one of the things early on I wasn’t speaking to a bunch of the people, the alumni groups when I was at Notre Dame. I didn’t do that until they took the coaches off the road recruiting my third year there. And that had a lot of people disgruntled, like this guy won’t come speak to us.

So when I took the job this year, I called up, I said, okay, when it gets to the month of May, I’ll go anywhere you want, let’s go, and let’s go hit the state and hit it hard and let the people get a little touch of the Jayhawk football program as it currently stands. And I think it’s paid good dividends so far.

Q. When you took the job, one of the lines that I had heard was: Oh, geez, he must have been desperate to be head coach again to take that job. Were you desperate to be a head coach again and do you think that assessment’s decidedly unfair?

COACH WEIS: I was offered other jobs for a lot more money, just so you know that.

Q. Which one?

COACH WEIS: It’s not important. What’s important is why did I take this job. And let’s look at it from my perspective. You’re coming into a team that was 3-10 two years ago and 2-10 last year. Not so long ago, it’s 2007 and 2008, and they’re playing in the Orange Bowl and the Insight Bowl and winning.

It wasn’t like it was 20 years ago now. Okay. It was a short time frame ago that that football program was playing in bowl games and winning.

So you say, okay, they were there, they’re here, what happened? How did they get from here to here and then how do you get back up? And to be honest with you, I think it’s a very challenging situation. And it’s one that, as I talked over with my wife and my son, we thought would be a very good challenge for us as a family but also very rewarding if it paid dividends.

Q. You talked about that success in ’07/’08. Mark Mangino coached those Jayhawks. Have you talked to Mark and talked to him about the job and what it entails, and do you have any history with Mark? Did you know him? Do you have any relationship there?

COACH WEIS: Actually, I knew Mark because one of the guys who coached with me when I was at Notre Dame grew up with him in Newcastle. So I used to hear about everything from Newcastle. It wasn’t just KU. And we talked over the time.

But when I took the job, I did not talk to Mark because I felt that there were guys that had been coached by Mark. I had guys on the team that played under Mark and Turner.

I mean, they had gone through three changes now in a short time frame. And I thought it was important for me to kind of do things the way I perceived they should be done on and off the field.

And I think you have to kind of make your own staple of how things are going to be done when you’re running the program.


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