Since perception is ninth-tenths reality, it’s safe to say Charlie Weis goofed by going national with his “pile of crap,” phraseology he used with recruits when he let them know they should feel confident about immediate playing time.
But shouldn’t reality count for at least 10 percent of reality? I mean, before declaring that one sentence too many and a 1-11 debut season means the Weis hire has exploded in athletic director Sheahon Zenger’s face, would it be OK to look at the entire picture first, even if it means not joining the pile-on? (See how easy it is to be guilty of a poor choice of words. Flag me 15 yards.)
Weis inherited a roster lacking young depth on both lines and in the secondary and one that didn’t have a quarterback capable of winning Division I games. So he brought Dayne Crist on board. He was no better, and in fact, even worse. He also recruited Brigham Young transfer Jake Heaps, who deserves a chance to be judged on his own performance, not on that of Crist. Brady Quinn became way better playing for Weis for two years at Notre Dame, after two substandard seasons as Ty Willingham’s quarterback. Maybe Heaps can make a similar improvement.
But that’s a maybe.
Here’s a definite: In one of Weis’ three jobs — two of which he assigned to himself — Kansas football is performing better than at any time since such records have been tracked. Weis is head coach, offensive coordinator and academic liaison. The least-discussed area, the one that supposedly is the most important, is academics. Before Weis became coach, the football team’s highest grade-point average was 2.75. That figure has been bumped from first to fourth with GPA’s of, in order, 3.00, 2.83, 2.86. Piling — there I go again, excuse me — stacking those report cards on top of each other is a nice counter-punch to any rival coach looking to use another pile against Weis during recruiting visits.
You won’t read about that nationally because it’s not sexy news and it doesn’t fit anybody’s predetermined profile of a grumpy coach who made obnoxious, grandiose statements at the beginning of his tenure at Notre Dame.
Not only do the athletes’ grades look better, their bodies already do as well and many of those are bodies whose growth was set back for two years by a strength and conditioning program that left players rolling their eyes because it was primitive compared to the ones they experienced in college.
Drill sergeant Scott Holsopple, who built a sterling reputation working for Marquette basketball and Florida football, has made a big-time impact, just two springs and two summers into the job. The beer-league softball look, commonplace just a couple of years ago, has gone out of style.
Again, these gradual building blocks that don’t make for sexy copy, but do turn into steps away from losing and toward winning.
Kansas won just one game last year, but the players played hard for Weis, didn’t let a losing record turn them into losers. Wiser play-calling — Weis got away from running the ball against a Rice team that couldn’t stop the run, and the Texas and Texas Tech games included questionable decisions — played a hand in KU not winning a couple of more games, but the Jayhawks never looked like a team that didn’t give strong effort for their coach.
Weis didn’t always use the cleanest language to motivate players to play hard, so they were the least surprised of any group to hear him use the words he chose at Big 12 media day. That doesn’t excuse him choosing those words because opposing student sections will use them against him and the national media won’t let up.
But to obsess on two numbers (1 ... 11) and three words (pile ... of ... crap) without giving a mention to serious gains already made in three important areas (academics, recruiting and strength and conditioning) doesn’t come close to telling the whole story. Four or more victories in 2013 and six or more in 2014 will speak more loudly than three stinky words.