Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews
Charlie Weis press conference
Charlie Weis was introduced as Kansas University's new head football coach Friday, Dec. 9, 2011 at the Anderson Family Football Complex.
The question came from across the table, from a friend who knows how to get to the heart of the matter.
“Did you like him?” he asked, meaning Charlie Weis, knowing I had just attended his introductory news conference.
It’s a coach’s job to make everybody like him when he’s saying hello. And it’s my job to see through staged news conferences, almost look for reasons not to like the star of the show, in case he’s a phony.
My response: “I’ve known a lot of Jersey guys. He struck me as the kind of Jersey guy I’ll like.”
By that, I meant he’s direct, in charge, funny, confident, not afraid to let you know when you’re annoying him, and above all, sarcastic. You understand why some others might not like him, but you like him. That’s the first impression he made.
He’s a splashy hire, all right, but he didn’t come across, even a little bit, as a splashy guy.
As New England Patriots offensive coordinator, Weis was the first NFL tutor to the greatest quarterback of all-time, Tom Brady. When I asked Weis for qualities in Brady that we don’t see on TV on Sunday, he supplied objective and subjective samples, in that order, of the football qualities of a man he refers to as “Tommy,” a man he said is “like family to us.”
Weis said he had to go back to Dan Marino to remember a quarterback not gifted with quick feet “be so smooth in the pocket.”
“His feet are so still,” Weis said. “There are times he just stands there. There are people all around. He just stands there. And there are times he has to move a little to the left, a little to the right or go back or go forward, he does it, finds a window and throws the ball. I’ve never seen anyone so calm playing the quarterback position. Now, you’re going to watch him play, and you’re going to see what I’m talking about.”
Then Weis referred to the indefinable quality possessed by all great ones in all sports.
“OK, now subjectively, there are certain people who have it, and I can’t tell you what ‘it’ is, he has it. If you’re around him, whatever ‘it’ is, you’d know it, because that’s what ‘it’ is,” Weis said.
It’s not something that can be spotted in a conversation, so KU’s new football coach looks to learn the intangibles of a quarterback prospect in other ways.
“You can go into it the school and watch what everyone thinks about him,” Weis said. “See, when I go into a school, I like to talk to people other than coaches. ’Cause the coaches are always going to say how great the kid is. I like talking to the custodians. I like talking to the lunch lady. I like talking to the police guy who works in the school, ’cause they’re the ones who will tell you what the kids are really like. I mean, you can watch on tape to see whether he can play. You like to see how the kid is viewed by his peers in view of leadership and as long as you have a quarterback who’s viewed as a leader, you have a good chance.”
It’s easy to see Weis talking to the custodian, the security enforcer at a school. He looks and talks more like those guys than like the splashy hire.
Weis doesn’t need to return to Notre Dame to ask anybody about the quarterback he covets. He’s been there, done that years ago when he recruited Dayne Crist, a 6-foot-4, 235-pound pocket passer. Crist played for Weis for two seasons at Notre Dame, was injured and red-shirted one year under Brian Kelly and was benched the next. He’s graduating this month and can transfer and be eligible immediately.
Look for Crist in Allen Fieldhouse today. Weis can’t talk about him by name. He can’t tell everybody in Allen Fieldhouse that when a 6-4 young man pins a bear hug on him, that’s a sign to break into chants of “We want Dayne! We want Dayne! We want Dayne!”
Crist, a one-year player, would be a nice start. If Weis does a better job of assembling a staff than he did at Notre Dame and treats the coaches under him with respect, he could be well on his way to justifying the over-the-top enthusiasm already expressed by so many KU supporters.
“He’s created so much of a buzz and excitement; I think we’re going to have 25,000 at the spring game,” said Bernie Kish, who in order to move to Lawrence, where he teaches at KU, left his 10-year post as head of the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind., a few months after Weis came to town.
Weis has a tough challenge on his hands. The offseason workouts will run off some players who aren’t up to it, and the ones who stay on board will give Weis a head-start on evaluating his team. He’ll already know the identity of the tough guys.