Kansas Participates in Big 12 Football Media Days
|Coach Weis Press Conference Transcript|
|Fastscripts by ASAP Sports|
THE MODERATOR:Â We’re now joined by coach Charlie Weis from Kansas.Â Your thoughts about the upcoming season.
COACH WEIS:Â We’re 1-11 and picked by everybody to finish last in the league, and that’s justifiable.Â If I were you, I’d pick us in the same spot.Â We’ve given you no evidence or no reason to be picked anywhere other than that.
I told our players and told our coaching staff that, until they start winning some games in the conference, that’s just the way it’s going to be.
Obviously, inside closed walls or inside our walls and closed doors, our expectations are much higher than everyone else, but the proof’s in the pudding.Â Until we start beating some teams in the Big 12, which is quite a challenge with the ability and talent throughout the league, we’re going to be put in the same spot every year.
And on that note, I’m fair game.
Q.Â Let’s talk some football here.Â Tell us about Jake and how he kind of took control of the team this spring, what you saw from him, what you remember him when you recruited him when you were at that other school of yours, and where he’s at right now.
COACH WEIS:Â I’m going to kind of group Jake and Justin McCay together.Â Justin transferred from Oklahoma back home to Kansas City, where he’s from, and Jake came from when I had recruited him out of Skyline High School out in Seattle, Washington, where he was the top ranked player in the country, and he really wanted to come to that school I was at, but he thought I might get fired, and he forgot to tell me that he was going to be right.Â He had better foresight than I did.
With that being said, I was very fortunate last year for them, while they were going through a transfer year where they were ineligible, where they could establish a rapport, where they could be on that practice field every day throwing and catching, and I think that everyone who — it’s been well-documented that anyone who watched us play last year, that although we had a pretty solid running game, we couldn’t pass the ball, and we couldn’t score points, and I think that that’s what I’m counting on this year for us to be a more balanced team on offense.
I think Jake and Justin are two of the people that can help provide that for us.
Q.Â Coach Weis, you have Jake Heaps coming in at quarterback, you maybe have more confidence in this year than you did last year with that situation.Â You have Nick Harwell, a transfer, coming in and James Sims who’s obviously a great running back.Â With that increased balance that you have maybe from last year to this year, is that something that you feel is an advantage going into this season?
COACH WEIS:Â I think it’s definitely an advantage and also better utilizing the players that we have.Â Last year, even though we weren’t a very good football team, we had some quality players at the running back position.Â That might be the only position that we had quality players as a group, but we’ve actually gotten stronger at that position than we were last year.
What that’s allowed me to do is try to make Tony Pierson a more versatile player.Â As I sat there and watched the last four or five games of that Austin guy at West Virginia just tearing it up as both a wide receiver and a running back, I think that football sometime doesn’t have to be as cerebral as some people try to make it, and I think that it’s a copycat business.
When you can have a talent that you feel is similar to a guy that’s being utilized properly, I think that, if we can get Tony more involved in space, that will open up a lot of things for the rest of our running backs and our receivers in general.
Q.Â Can you talk about your — how junior college recruiting will factor into your long-term plans for the program.
COACH WEIS:Â I think that you can’t factor junior college recruiting to the number that I brought in this year into long-term plans.Â I think that the high volume of players I took this year was a necessity.
When you go through a transition coming in and you dismiss 29 scholarship players, which I did for a variety of off-the-field issues — not one of those players did I get rid of because they weren’t any good.Â You can’t do it for that reason.
So now I took a team that already wasn’t very good, and I made them worse talent-wise.Â So that led to we need to fill the holes right now.
See, in recruiting, I think it’s imperative to understand that, when you bring in a high school kid, there’s a good portion of them that need at least a year to go ahead and develop.Â At least a year.Â Sometimes it’s more than a year.
There’s a handful of guys that are ready to play when they walk in the door, but that’s the exception, not the norm.Â I needed guys that could play now because, if not, I’m going to be ranked tenth in the league every year.Â So I needed to go with that high volume.
I think that in the long-range plan and the plan that we’ve laid out as a coaching staff, that sliding scale should start working in the other direction where the majority of the players you bring in are high school players and then you fill the desired holes or gaps you need with those junior college players.
Q.Â Charlie, you mentioned the record on the field last year, but you guys have still been able to maintain some momentum in recruiting.Â How are you selling these kids on Kansas, and what are you telling them to get them into the fold?
COACH WEIS:Â Well, I — the problem with me is I have a very — I’m a very straightforward person, and these players either really like you or they can’t stand you.Â It’s one or the other.
I take a very honest approach and a very practical approach, but I’ll just say as if it’s your kid.Â Let’s say it’s your kid.Â Let’s say he’s a junior in high school, and I’m recruiting him, and we’re talking, and you’re sitting in my office.Â I say, look, I’ve got a great school here, great education, great academic support, I’ve got a great strength coach.Â My trainer is topnotch.Â All the facilities are on par with everyone else.Â The only thing that needs to be done is they need to do some work on the stadium, which are in the plans.
So all the background things I’ve got in place.Â Now, what are you looking for in college?Â If one of the things you’re looking for is all those things, then I already have a good head start.
Then everyone wants to play.Â There’s no one that wants to not play.Â I said, have you looked at that pile of crap out there?Â Have you taken a look at that?Â So if you don’t think you can play here, where do you think you can play?Â It’s a pretty simple approach.Â And that’s not a sales pitch.Â That’s practical.Â You’ve seen it, right?Â Unfortunately, so have I.
So now you’re sitting there saying, look, you want to have an opportunity?Â Everybody wants to tell me about depth charts.Â When a kid asks me, “Well, what’s your depth chart, how many guys are you going to take,” I answer the question:Â Let me give you some advice, never ask that question again because that means that you don’t think you’re good enough.
So really, by being honest with them and just saying here’s what it is, hopefully, before it’s all said and done, before I end up leaving the place, that’s not going to be the same thing I’m saying, but that’s what I’m saying right now.
Q.Â Charlie, last year Dayne struggled as a transfer quarterback, and now Heaps comes in in kind of a similar situation, but how are things better for him, and how could this maybe work for him whereas it didn’t work for Dayne?
COACH WEIS:Â Actually, they’re totally different situations other than the fact that they’re coming in new.Â Dayne was coming off the back-to-back ACLs.Â So you get your — you tore your right ACL, then you get healthy, then you tear your left ACL.Â So as a quarterback, okay, you could simulate a lot of things, but the one thing you’re not going to do is in training camp let your starting quarterback get hit a whole bunch of times.
So you don’t know what’s going to happen when the real bullets start flying, and I think that we all saw — Dayne admittedly is too.Â He’s one of my favorite people of all times.Â I mean, wasn’t playing with a lot of confidence, wasn’t playing with that air about him that “I’m not worrying about my knees, I’m just going to go ahead and let it go.”
Jake has no physical issues.Â Jake just had to sit for a year while he was biding his time for his opportunity to play.Â So I think that Jake will come in with a lot more confidence than Dayne came in because I don’t think that health issues are even in the back of his mind, knock on wood.
Q.Â Charlie, did you take anything positive out of the near upset of Texas last year?
COACH WEIS:Â Not much.Â When you give up a touchdown pass with 11 seconds to go, when you give up a fourth and nine completion from our own territory, when on first down you have a ball thrown right to the corner and you don’t intercept it, okay.Â Here’s the one thing I took.Â I was happy for Mack.Â I was miserable for me.
So, no, I took nothing positive from it.
Q.Â Charlie, the kicking game was nothing short of atrocious last year.Â What did you do this spring to shore it up, improve it, make it better, make it a better part of your unit?
COACH WEIS:Â Change the kicker.Â That was a pretty easy one.Â Thank you.
Q.Â Is he JUCO?
COACH WEIS:Â We brought in a JUCO kicker from California who has a chance of handling all three chores.
Q.Â So punting as well?
COACH WEIS:Â That’s his one thing, punter and kickoff guy.
But I agree wholeheartedly with your comment, though.Â I thought our kicking game was atrocious as well.
Q.Â Charlie, were you surprised that James Sims wasn’t on the Preseason All-Big 12 team after the year he had last year?
COACH WEIS:Â I think that James — once again, it comes down to winning and losing football teams.Â I think, when you’re a losing football team, which at 1-11, we definitely are ahead of the pack, I think you have to earn respect.
I think that, if you have a player from a team that’s been winning and a player from the team that’s been losing, you’re going to go with the team that’s been winning because they’ve helped them win.
That being said, I think that James, if you asked him the same question, would say, “I don’t care where you put me, first, second, third,” but he would arguably say that, if you looked at our stable at running backs, you’ll find a tough time in this league trying to find a group of running backs that’s any better than the ones we have.Â That might be the only position I can say that with.
Q.Â I’m doing a story about assistant coaches and how their jobs have evolved over the years, and I’m curious, can you talk about your first job, what your duties were and how much you made, and how much fun did you have working that job.
COACH WEIS:Â Well, there’s a couple of first jobs I’ve had.Â I’ve started a long way up.Â I started as a graduate assistant at the University of South Carolina in 1985 working for Joe Morrison and making nothing, and it was probably the best time of my life.Â I learned that I didn’t know anything.
That’s the best thing that happens when you go to college or eventually the NFL.Â You learn how little you really know.Â You think you have all the answers, and you get humbled in a hurry.
But the one thing you always can fall back on — two things you always can fall back on:Â intelligence and hard work.Â If you have intelligence and you have a very good work ethic, they’re the great equalizer.Â Actually, it gives you a chance to surpass the equality and gives you a chance to move past some people.
But I was making tuition, room, board, books, and fees, and there was no money and probably one of my favorite jobs I’ve ever had in my life.
Q.Â Coach, were you involved in the draft process of Kliff Kingsbury in 2003, and what did you see when he worked with the Patriots early in his career?
COACH WEIS:Â Yes, I was involved with Kliff, and he’s always been one of my favorite people.
One thing that I was intrigued about back when he was playing at Texas Tech is that they never called a run.Â The entire year they didn’t call a run.Â Every play was a pass that you could check to a run.Â I had never heard of that before.
Kliff was a pleasure to be around.Â He obviously had some guys ahead of him that are Hall of Fame-type people that he was behind, but I can tell you that he was a pleasure to be around and he was a sponge, and him having early success in his coaching career has come as no great surprise to me.
Q.Â There’s a lot of talk about recruiting reform.Â Where are you on an early national letter of intent?
COACH WEIS:Â I think that there’s two dates that could be considered for different reasons.Â One date could be in December, mid-December, like when the junior college signing day is.Â I think the advantage of doing that is now everyone would know what they need to finish out their class.
So let’s say if you sign 15 guys and you had 25, you’d know what positions you already had.Â These were in the bank, these were done, and these were the ones that you had to go scramble to go ahead and fill.
I personally have been a proponent for quite some time, because the nature of recruiting has changed so drastically, I personally have been in favor of having one in August, and the reason — that’s for a totally different reason.Â I believe that the player, a lot of times a high school senior, their coaching staffs get very aggravated with kids because they think they’re playing to get ready for college, not playing for their team.
I think that, if they had recruiting behind them, they were already committed, you don’t even have to worry about that.Â They didn’t have to worry about sandbagging an injury or something like that because they already had a scholarship, you could eliminate a lot of the “yeah, buts” for the college programs and the high school programs so the guys could just go be seniors in high school.
The sad part about these high school kids is they don’t get an opportunity to really enjoy their senior year because the 9,000 people that are trying to get to them.Â If it’s not the coaching staffs, it’s the Internet services and the radio and TV guys.Â I mean, what about let seniors be seniors.Â And I think that that’s why I’ve been a — I know that my recruiting coordinator is in favor of a December one.Â I actually am in favor of one being even earlier than that, but that is the reason.
THE MODERATOR:Â Coach, thank you very much for your comments and your answers.