My alma mater, the University of Kansas, does not have a good football program. This is no secret to students, alumni or our Big 12 brethren. It might be a secret to the rest of the country only because no one knows we have a football program. Our last “one shining moment” (cue music) was in 2008, when we won the Orange Bowl and the national basketball championship. Good times.
I’d like the Jayhawks to be more competitive in football — let’s face it, I’d just like them to beat North Dakota State — but I am one of those wacky alums who is more embarrassed by the bad behavior of athletes and coaches than the scoreboard.
So when football Coach Charlie Weis called his team “a pile of crap,” I took umbrage. I’m still taking it. I’m cornering the market on umbrage futures.
I was becoming increasingly disenchanted with the football program before the arrival of Weis, and I was not in favor of his hiring. An unimpressive 35-27 record at Notre Dame was one reason. (At Kansas, that’s ticker-tape-parade material, but he was coaching and recruiting at Notre Dame . Big difference.) But I’m neither a donor nor a season ticket holder, so I let it go.
Then, at Big 12 media day earlier this week, Weis made what he called “sarcastic” comments about how he recruited players to a program that was 1-11 last season, Weis’s first at KU.
“I said, ‘Have you looked at that pile of crap out there? Have you taken a look at that? So if you don’t think you can play here, where do you think you can play?’ It’s a pretty simple approach, and that’s not a sales pitch. That’s practical. You’ve seen it, right? Unfortunately, so have I.”
Not exactly “Win one for the Gipper,” is it?
It’s also not funny. It’s not even sarcasm, because he meant it. He said he meant it. His players say they know he meant it. In fairness, a lot of them also say they don’t mind. Also in fairness, a lot of people say they find Weis’s honesty and blunt talk refreshing.
Honesty is refreshing in a business largely dominated by cliches. But I do think there is a line you don’t cross, and that line is denigrating your players. The fans, the opposition, and yes, the media will all do that for you. You don’t have to say you’re going to win the Big 12 because buddy, you aren’t. But Weis should be respectful of his players rather than trying to be funny at Big 12 media day because it’s probably the last time anyone will pay attention to him for 12 months.
Weis is guaranteed a minimum of $2.5 million a year for five years, even if KU fires him, which I fully expect will happen one of these days. The previous coach, Turner Gill, went 5-19 (not a typo) and was paid the nearly $6 million left on his contract. While those numbers may not seem like much to big-time programs, KU is not one of those. It’s a lot of money.
There are lots of incentives in Weis’s contract, such as a $50,000 bonus for being named Big 12 coach of the year. I wish they had added an incentive about keeping his big pie hole shut. I am realistic about my alma mater’s football team, but I would never refer to it as “a pile of crap.” My parents, who pay an increasingly ridiculous sum for bad seats to very bad games, would never say that, either, and unlike Weis, they’ve earned the right after 30-odd years in Memorial Stadium.
To be honest and blunt, I think Charlie Weis is a boorish blowhard who will have a stunning lack of success at Kansas and move on, blaming the school on his way out the door. I am not being sarcastic, and I do mean it. Gosh, that was refreshing!
For more by Tracee Hamilton, visit washingtonpost.com/hamilton.