Additional Big 12 media days coverage
• Check out Tuesday's live blog from Dallas, which includes videos, photos and updates from the Jayhawks' appearance in Dallas.
Dallas — After spending the offseason cobbling together a roster he believes can compete in the Big 12, first-year Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis is looking for more.
With just a week remaining before fall camp opens, Weis said Tuesday at Big 12 media days that he had explored the idea of adding a Penn State player or two that might now be available because of the powerful punishment levied against PSU in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
As outlined in the NCAA’s ruling, any Penn State player interested in transferring is free to do so without having to sit out a season.
Such language almost seems tailor-made for Weis, whose first squad at KU is filled with guys looking for a second chance.
Asked if he had glanced at the Penn State roster, Weis answered with a single word: Yes.
He then elaborated and, in doing so, demonstrated that he was not letting his potential to profit cloud his feelings about the tragedy at Penn State.
“First of all, you have to be respectful to (PSU) coach (Bill) O’Brien and the people who are trying to make good of a bad situation,” Weis said. “But, at the same time, the rules are the rules. 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 was behind on that one.”
As was the case with the eight Big 12 football coaches who spoke before him this week, Weis shared his thoughts about the Penn State mess. Unlike the others, Weis got into it before he was asked.
“My feelings on that is that no one wins,” Weis said in his opening statement. “Everyone loses. There’s no winner in that situation. So I prefer not to take any further than that.”
That was the last time Tuesday that Weis’ words carried any kind of heavy-hearted tone. From that point on, Weis, who wore a dark suit with a blue tie and a Jayhawk pin on his jacket, was the jovial, sarcastic, honest and cunning coach he has shown himself to be since taking over the KU program last December. It’s something his new players have come to expect, and something many believe will expedite the rebuilding process at Kansas.
“Same guy he was when he called me on the phone the first time in high school,” senior quarterback Dayne Crist said. “He’s always got bounce in his step. He’s always got a plan.”
If there were any difference in Weis’ demeanor Tuesday, senior co-captain Toben Opurum said was his coach’s tone.
“He was a lot nicer today than he usually is,” Opurum said.
Could that be chalked up to Weis’ wife, Maura, being in Dallas with him?
“That might be why,” Opurum said.
Following their coach’s lead, the Jayhawks dressed more sharply, talked more proudly and captured more attention at this year’s media days than in previous years. It was a little weird coming from a program that had just endured two of the worst seasons in school history. Then again, it was exactly what is expected from a club led by Weis.
Ever the realist, Weis cautioned about reading too much into anything that was said or gleaned from this week, even while admitting that the outside world now seems to have a much different opinion about KU football today than it did eight months ago.
“Yeah, they do,” Weis said. “But we haven’t played a game yet. I brought some credibility, (defensive coordinator Dave) Campo brought some credibility, Dayne brought some credibility. But it still comes down to playing the game.”
While Tuesday’s funny stories, free smiles and smooth confidence changed the way the Jayhawks were treated at media day, that internal optimism did little to alter the end-all, be-all of where the Jayhawks stand in the world of college football. Weis was fine with that.
“I know where we are in this whole pecking order,” he said. “I know that everyone sees, ‘Here’s the good teams,’ and then they work their way down to Kansas at the bottom. But we’re not gonna be one of those teams where you’re just gonna roll into Lawrence and say, ‘OK, we got an easy W, let’s go whup up on the Jayhawks and go on to the next one.’”
From being on top of the world after Super Bowl victories to being under an intense microscope at Notre Dame, Weis has been in just about every conceivable situation, many of them much bigger than Big 12 media days. But he’s at Kansas now, and, even though his image might have undergone a transformation, Weis is not about to scrap the way he does business.
“You might say the expectations are different,” Weis said. “But everyone wants the same thing.”
The Jayhawks are scheduled to report to camp a week from today, and fall practice will begin Thursday.