Charlie Weis Holds 2012 Season Wrap Up

Dec. 20, 2012

LAWRENCE, Kan. Kansas head football coach Charlie Weis held a season wrap up press conference Thursday afternoon with members of the local media. The following is the transcript from the press conference:

Charlie Weis: Alright, well as we reach the holiday time and we can have a little wrap up of the season. I just first of all want to wish everyone a happy holiday time with your families obviously in light of all the bad things that are going on in this world these days. It’d be nice to be able to spend some time with family and friends and enjoy the holiday season, so I wish you all happy holidays. I’d say Merry Christmas, but I want to make sure I cover all religions, so I don’t get myself in trouble.

You’ve had a couple of weeks now since the end of the season and a lot of times when a season goes the way it goes, some guys are just happy to get it over with and move on, what have you seen from your returning players in the days since the season ended?

Charlie Weis: Well, I had a short time period, basically the Sunday after the West Virginia game where I met with several of the returning players, the older returning players. Some of them, guys that you would recognize as leaders, some of them are guys that you don’t’ realize are leaders, but I talked to several of them about the direction of the program and I basically let them know that, between those guys and (Scott) Holsopple, for the next month and a half I’m counting on them to set the tone.

As you know there’s very strict rules on how much time you’re supposed to spend with players in regards to football activities and I’ve been very pleased to this point with how that’s going. Most of the students are home, but there’s a bunch of guys today down there working out with Holsopple. That is a good sign. Not that I want them to stay any longer than they had to–but the fact that they want to be here–I think that we’re definitely making steps in the right direction.

Defensive line didn’t put much pressure on the quarterback, how confident are you whether by developing current players or other means that you’ll be able to put more pressure on the quarterback next year?

Charlie Weis: Well, I think there are two things that come into play there. Let’s start with the guys we already have and the guys we already have include the guys that just signed, because they’re guys that we have, because they’re now on the team. I think with the guys we have we do have some inherit pass rush ability. I think that it’s going to be very, very important for us to bring that inherit pass rush ability, because there’s going to be several times where you’re going to be rushing only four guys possibly three guys and I think that it’s important to be able to get some more heat on the quarterback that we did at almost any time last year.

In addition to that, when I get to spend time in February with the defensive staff, I’ve already written down a bunch of thoughts, not so much as being the defensive coordinator myself, but things that present problems to me as an offensive coordinator that I think that we can then interject into what we’re doing to create more problems than we currently have. I think that, that’s the way that I try to help the defensive staff more than any. With the guys we have, here’s what other people are doing that give me a problem. Why don’t we see if we can’t put some of that thought methodology into what we’re doing?

You asked (Dave) Campo to do the same for you as the offensive coordinator?

Charlie Weis: I asked the defensive staff, Campo and the entire defensive staff, what gives you problems? What doesn’t give you problems? Besides self-scout, which is one of the things we do, what did we run that just wasn’t any good? Why wasn’t it any good? Was it not any good, because of execution or because it was a crummy idea? You have to figure that out. We’re doing a big self-scout study and that’s what the GAs and the guys that are in-house during the month of January will be doing. We’re doing all sorts of projects to analyze our own system. Yes, I asked Campo and I asked the defensive staff for pro and a con that they’ve seen.

I know you’ve been real busy over the last few weeks, have you put together a shortlist of things you need to target, things you need to address personnel wise?

Charlie Weis: When we first got here, we were just taking bodies. You’re scrambling. When you get here in December and you’re assembling a staff and everything, when you go on the road recruiting, what you’re trying to do is just get whatever you can get out there that are the best of what you can get, that’s what you do. When you have a full year in recruiting, a full cycle in recruiting that’s no longer the case, now it’s not just filling in spots.

I know that all of you have seen glaring holes on our team just like I have seen glaring holes on our team. Those spots you have to go ahead and fill, but you also want to fill them with what you think are quality guys that could be an upgrade from who you have. I think that so far so good on that front, but you have to be determined with guys coming in and guys that’ll be coming in the summer time as well, but there’s going to be a great influx of good talent that’s going to be able to mix in with the guys we already have here.

Remember, the young men that just joined our team yesterday combined with the guys that we have coming back from last year, we’re going to have a lot of time to get going and move this thing along in the second year. Some of those new guys are going to have to play catch up, but we’re going to have an opportunity to take what we did from this year that works and then try to grow from that. I think that, that’s the best thought methodology and way to go.

Seven of the ten of those guys that you mentioned are linemen, is that more of a foundational thing or is that just like you were saying the need?

Charlie Weis: Well, I don’t think we’re good enough and I think that if you don’t have offensive and defensive linemen, it doesn’t make a difference what else you have. If you don’t have those guys, you can have the greatest skill guys in the world, but if the offensive line can’t block, guess what? It’s not going to make a difference. Just like the defense…piggy backing from Tom’s question about trying to get pass rushers. What’s the best way to get a rush on the passer? Get good players. That’s the best way.

I don’t remember (Bill) Belichick ever doing a lot of coaching on Lawrence Taylor. I remember he’d say, Lawrence go rush. That worked out pretty well most of the time. No we don’t have Lawrence Taylor, but I’m saying that’s the best way of doing it and I think that we’ve added a couple unique guys with some unique skill sets.

In your mind, what did you think the chances were that, a guy like Chris Martin ends up playing for you at Kansas?

Charlie Weis: All I had to do was offer him. Those were the odds, because he wasn’t going to go somewhere else, because his mother wouldn’t let him and that’s really the bottom line. See you guys don’t know about the relationships with those situations. When Chris Martin was here we didn’t talk once about recruiting. Not once. I said okay, we’re going to do this, here’s the deal. It wasn’t like that. I talked to his mom yesterday or the other day for a half hour. There are a lot of parents who only trust certain people. We’ve known each other for a long time now. The first time he committed to me was signing day of his junior year. He committed that day and then when I got fired he bailed out. So we’ve known each other a long time.

I had a conversation with him last year when he went to San Francisco and I basically said, if you toe the line a year from now I’ll come and get you. That’s what I told him. And he did, so I did, because usually when I say something there’s usually a pretty good chance that, that’s what I’m going to end up doing.

What kind of leg work did you have to do academically with Ty McKinney? And just in general with junior college transfers?

Charlie Weis: Well, Ty was a pretty simple thing. He wasn’t going to be here for a semester and I said, you make sure you go take these classes and make sure you get at least these grades and he took the classes and that’s what he did. What you don’t want to do is have a guy not here for a semester and not staying in the mix academically, because as any student will tell you, once you get out of the mix of going to class, it starts to fade away. Sort of like when you graduate from college and trying to decide whether you want to go to grad school or not. Once you stop going to school you really don’t want to go back.

So that’s why it was important to me that this fall when he wasn’t here that he was taking classes, so that he stayed in the mental frame of mind that I’m a student. He wasn’t just trying to be a football player. In most of these guys’ cases, the guys that are here that are coming mid-year; obviously they did a lot of work to put themselves in a position where they can graduate now instead of graduating in May. This is not the easiest task to do. In most of their cases you get it done in a year and a half and that’s taking heavy, heavy loads of classes. Taking online classes and find which online classes are acredited by your junior college and which ones are accredited by the schools you’re going to. There’s a lot of due diligence. This is not a simple process. This is one where a lot of work has to be done especially for somebody who’s going to try to get here mid-year.

How do you measure success between now and the beginning of next season?

Charlie Weis: I think that there’s only one way you measure success and that’s playing games. Progress is different than success. I think you can measure progress, how much progress you’ve made, but really at the end of the day, success is when you win games. We won one this past year and that’s not what we’re shooting for obviously. I think success is measured when you play on Saturday in front of a packed house at Memorial Stadium. Progress is a totally different thing.

Marquel (Combs) is a guy that really kind of spearheaded the recruiting process and really was in the ears of a lot of these other guys and he did the #2013dreamteam and I was just kind of curious of your thoughts on having players like that, recruits like that kind of helping your job a little bit.

Charlie Weis: Well, I always thought that, against all the good defenses I’ve always gone against, there have always been a couple of personalities on defense. The personalities. The guys that the media can’t get to fast enough. You know what? The only way those personalities can be allowed to thrive or flourish is if they’re playing well. What good does it do if you have a big personality if you’re not worth a darn? Fortunately, he’s a really good player. I like when there’s some defensive players that have something to them just as long as they can back it up.

I think that, last year when we talked about (Mike) Ragone that you guys like, I was right and that you guys all liked him, because of his personality. I think this one’s a slam dunk as far as you liking his personality. You’ll know why the other recruits talk to him. I call him, The Pied Piper. That’s my nickname for him. You’re the darn Pied Piper, because they all want to Facebook him and tweet him and text him and call him and things like that. When one of those guys are on your side, it’s a heck of a lot better when he’s on somebody else’s side. We kind of got into a very unique situation that no one could’ve expected, even us. I’d like to sit there and say we had it all nailed down, but we got into one of those unique perspectives where we challenged a lot of these guys to come and be a part of the reason why we went from 1 and 11 to whatever. He was one of the ones who accepted the challenge.

Once he jumped on board, there were a lot of other people saying, well if he’s coming let’s go. I think that it really had a positive snow balling effect. There are other guys yet to come that preceded him that helped him along before he even got to that point right there. He deserves some kudos, but there’s a lot of other people in that mix who deserve credit for bonding all of them together. It was a very unique situation.

Is that bonding contagious?

Charlie Weis: Oh, without a doubt. Without a doubt. I’d be very surprise if that’s where it ended, because it wasn’t just them, they couldn’t Facebook our guys fast enough. It wasn’t just those guys, it was all of them. There’s legal things that you can do and there’s things that you can do and can’t do and thank God for modern technology as far as that goes, because there’s things you’re allowed to do and they did them. They’re like long lost best friends and they haven’t even been teammates yet. They’re not even on site yet.

Going back six years when you first got that coaching job, is it wild to think how technology, Facebook and Twitter changed the recruiting process on players and on coaches?

Charlie Weis: Yeah, there’s good and bad with technology now. I think a lot of times the bad part is, everything you say and do is out five seconds later. If I say something controversial right now, I don’t know who tweets it first, but it’s out there. It didn’t used to be that way. You used to be able to be in a press conference or just say whatever you felt and it’s no longer like that, so you have to be very careful about what you say. Same thing with all the modern technologies out there, everything is different now.

The problem is, a lot of times people say things and people believe what is said even if it’s not true. If I just said something that’s just a lie for the heck of it right now, people would believe it was true. Regardless of what I said right now, if I said anything in the world within a half hour and say, can you believe that this happened? It doesn’t even have to happen. A lot of times people don’t do their due diligence to follow up to make sure that, that’s really the way it is. You have to be very careful with technology today. You do too. You (media members) can’t get by with a mistake anymore, because now you find yourself getting hammered. You better be apologizing about 30 seconds later, because somebody is going to be hammering you about whatever you say or do.

Along those lines about the confidence, and the personality and that of Marquel (Combs), do you like that all these guys have jumped onboard with the dream team moniker and talking BCS bowls and Big 12 titles?

Charlie Weis: Well, they can talk whatever they want until they get here. We will worry about that when they get here. And as a matter of fact, in that young man’s case, I might let him continue recruiting through February, okay, because he’s done such a good job. But the rules are even going to change for him once he gets here, because once he gets here, you know, there are things, through the NCAA, you are allowed to do and not allowed to do. I don’t think I’ll put the clamps on him for a little while yet. I think I’ll wait until I get through Signing Day. But trust me, I’ve already informed him, that there is going to come a time where — in other words, enjoy your time now, so to speak.

Could you talk a little about Dexter McDonald and what the sequence of events was for him?

Charlie Weis: Well, I think that Dexter, when he left, he was a little sour. I don’t think he had any aspirations of being back here. I think that Reggie’s relationship with him, got us, got us to where we could talk, but I think after talking with Reggie and talking with Campo, and talking with me, and then getting up here, and then getting his parents up here, there’s a lot to this now. You can’t be presumptuous that a local guy, that left is going to want to get back here. But at the end of the day, he and his family all agreed that this was a different situation than the one he left, and one that he wanted to be a part of.

You have had a chance to be around Jake Heaps for most of the year, can you talk about Jake for a moment, an athlete, mentality, his leadership and his work ethic?

Charlie Weis: There are so many things I could say positive about Jake. But let’s just talk about a few of them. He basically is the show team player of the week every week. And most people would think that with a guy who has been a starting guy, who’s been, not demoted, but sent to the show team, that wouldn’t be important to him. The defensive staff would be delighted not to see any more of Jake Heaps, because every day in practice, he just tore them up. It wouldn’t make a difference, he could be throwing to you and me, he really performed at a very high level. Number two, I’ve known the kid for a long time now. I was recruiting him out of high school. I sat at a game at Skyline High School in Seattle on a Friday night before we played the University of Washington. There was a good chance he was going to end up coming with me to that other school that I was at, but once again, I went by the wayside and so did he.

So he goes to BYU, breaks every freshman passing record, that there ever was, and there’s been a whole bunch of good quarterbacks that have played at that school. So it doesn’t work out. Midway through his sophomore year, it doesn’t work out. They make a change, and they mutually decide to go their separate ways. I end up getting this job. He gets permission to go ahead and talk to me. He called and asked me if I had a spot for him. I basically said do you want me to drive out there and get you, you know, sarcastically. But he and his wife got a good view of the place and came here knowing that he was going to have to sit for a year. It’s what we just witnessed for an entire year.

Most people in that case, in that situation would have wallowed away in anonymity, not Jake Heaps. Okay, he was grinding from the day he got here. He’s been nothing but a positive influence around here. If I asked the players to vote for their favorite player on a team, he might win it without having played. So that’s a good place to start. Now, I’m not going to anoint him as the second coming. I’m just saying that’s where we are right now, and that’s a good place to start.

Coach, what have you seen from Jake, because we have witnessed it, just seeing him around. He seems to have more of a bounce. Maybe the season ended and then the switch flipped.

Charlie Weis: Well, what happens is there are leaders of the team. And when the leaders who are predominantly older guys, or seniors, whose eligibility is up, are walking out the door, there’s a group of guys that now kind of have to take over. And let’s not just say Jake, let’s talk about Ben Heeney. Now, Ben Heeney was the most productive player on our defense this year. Everyone would agree with that. But he’s a sophomore starting for his first time. Whereas, guys like Toben (Opurum) and Josh (Williams), are older guys who have been around a long time. They (younger players) really don’t want to overstep your bounds, but they’re gone now. So there’s a natural opportunity for him to step up. If you have it in you, now’s the time to go ahead and show it. And it’s not just Jake, and it’s not just Ben, but there’s a bunch of guys that are kind of moved into that type of category.

More than you expected?

Charlie Weis: I didn’t know how many to expect. But one thing, you can’t fake leadership, either you have it or you don’t have it. And when coaches try to make guys into leaders that aren’t leaders, guess what, it doesn’t work out very well. I’m hoping that some of the leaders on our team aren’t even here yet.

Some positions are more complicated than others when you are coming to a new team, a new system, a new level of play. Where do you put defensive tackle and defensive end?

Charlie Weis: I think a kid coming out of high school, it’s really touch to be a significant contributor at those two positions unless you are just a dynamic pass rusher. I think it’s tough, because regardless of how big you are, and no matter how good you are, the tricks of the trade of an 18-year old versus a 22 or 23-year old are night and day. Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t be a dynamic pass rusher, because you just might have the athletic ability to go do that. But other than that, that’s one of the advantages. When you get into the JUCO rank, there’s pros and cons now. It’s not all a rosy picture. But when you look at these guys that you’re coming, they’re grown men. This isn’t 18-year old kids you’re bringing in here. These are 21-year old guys that have been around for a while, that have been weathered, that have gone through it, and I think that it gives you a lot better chance to get an honest evaluation of what you’re getting walking in the door. A lot of high school kids that you’re brining in are purely projections. You talk about the star system that people rate from up to five stars. There’s a lot of guys that have been rated three stars that develop into great players. And on the other hand, there’s guys that have been rated as five stars that have kind of fizzled. That doesn’t happen nearly as much with these guys that you’re bringing in that have been in a junior college for a couple of years, because you’ve already had a couple of years of body of evidence to see where they’re heading.

Coach you lost players at a lot of positions at the offensive line and the secondary, particularly safety, you lost some pretty good players. Can you talk about all players on the team that potentially could fill those holes?

Charlie Weis: Well, we have a number of candidates at safety, and then we have some additional people that we feel real good about that will be joining the team, as well. And once again, I think that if you have additional people that will be joining the team that you are counting on, the junior college route is one route where you are going to have a lot better projection of the guy being ready to play now. I have a spring depth chart. Ideally you are at least three deep at the safety position to give yourself an honest evaluation of what exactly you have coming out of the spring before some new guys end up, joining the mix in May.

When you have a strong backfield with James (Sims) and Tony (Pierson), does it affect the way you go after linemen?

Charlie Weis: It helps, and that’s a good question, because it really does help the way you go after linemen. Let’s think about it, you’re a guy who wants to play in a physical offense, and you see those guys having production like that. Well, that’s an easier representation to those linemen, because they say hey, they already can run the ball. And look at who they have. And I think that that’s really helped us some with some of these guys that have jumped onboard, that’s the one thing they noticed, they said and 29s back? I said, yeah, he’s back. You know, and they say well, what about 3, he’s back, too. What about 36? He’s back, too. What about 25? He’s back, too. You know, it kind of helps when those guys are looking at that.

The obvious goals is if these guys pan out and become players and all that, but is there another element to it in terms of the guys here that are already in your program having to work harder to keep their spots? I mean, is that something you can sort of hope for?

Charlie Weis: That should drive them. Last year they were driven because there was a change in coaches. That’s the only reason they were driven. Now they’re driven because the competition is totally different. The competition now has changed. It doesn’t make any difference what position you play, the competition has now changed. It’s not the same. And, if you don’t get better in a hurry, you’ll never play.

You’ve talked a lot about how you love recruiting, you’re rare in that way. How about the rest of your staff, the role they play. And you know, maybe they don’t all love it the same way you do. But can you just talk about what they’ve done in the last few weeks?

Charlie Weis: Well, I think that when they know that you do, they better. It doesn’t give them a choice, because if I go into an area and there are guys that they weren’t recruiting, that are going somewhere else, I want to know why. They might only have me for a couple of days, but those couple of days we’re going to a lot of places in a short amount of time. It’s usually miserable, sometimes flying, sometimes driving. I mean, there have been some miserable days in the last couple of weeks now. But if I go into an area and I said that guy’s going to what school? Why weren’t we recruiting him? It puts some pressure on them. Fortunately, I’ve got a hard-working staff in recruiting. And, we have to adjust some people. We probably aren’t getting as much production out of a few people because we probably don’t have them in the area that they’re the most comfortable with, and that we’ll tweak after the season’s over. We’ll go ahead and, and rearrange so we get the most production out of everyone. And if there’s a coach that we’re not getting a lot of production, because we’re just not winning on players in that area, then we’ll take them out of that area and go put them in an area where we think we can get more production. I mean, this isn’t etched in stone, like this is where you’re going to be all the time. You have to be willing to make adjustments to get the most out of everybody. But I think that our coaching staff is hardworking and I think they all find recruiting important. And I think that’s a good thing, because I’ve been around some guys in the past that recruiting wasn’t as important to them. And to me, you have two seasons. You have the football season and then you have the recruiting season. And if you don’t treat the recruiting season just as important, then you’re never going to win on players.

Is Cassius Sendish just a good cornerback who happens to be tall? Or do you like the idea of taller cornerbacks?

Charlie Weis: Well, knowing that we’re bringing in a couple of taller, more physical corners to compete with the guys we have right here, I think in the Big 12, sometimes if you have a bunch of small guys out there, you can get into physical mismatches. So you better, recruit with keeping in mind who you’re going against. Because if you don’t, then you end up not doing too well. But I really like Cassius. I like his size. I like his physical ability and I like the way he carries himself. He’s a very polished. He is a polished student. He gets great grades. He is a polished young man. I’m really looking forward to having him here.