An attempt to pin Weis down on his initial comments and the subsequent spin, got nowhere. “He’s not going to talk to you,” Kansas football spokesperson Katy Lonergan said. “He’s just too busy.”
Leach apparently wasn’t as busy. He also got into trouble with a comment made about his seniors — of whom he only has 13. Asked about he seniors at his weekly press conference, Leach lauded a number of them, singling out several for the leadership they had brought to the team. Others, he said, had not bought in the way he had hoped.
“Some of them have had kind of this zombie-like, go through the motions like everything is like how it’s always been, that’s how it will always be,” he said. “Some of them quite honestly have an empty corpse mentality. That’s not pleasant to say or pleasant to think about but it’s true.”
Reached by phone, Leach didn’t back off what he had said. “I don’t regret saying it,” he said. “I was actually trying to make a point about how great some of the seniors have been and I singled out several of them. But for some guys it’s very hard. One of the things you try to teach is that you and your team can make progress on every play — regardless of score, regardless of record.
“I know that can be tough to buy into when you’ve been losing and you’ve been disappointed in the past. These guys started every single season of their careers thinking they were going to win and then it crashed on them. We’re struggling and they can see that the end isn’t that far away. Some have handled that great, others haven’t. I can tell the difference by the way they look in practice, in meetings, in games. That was the point I was making. I wasn’t saying any of them are bad kids. I was saying it’s very tough for all of them which is why I admire the guys who have been able to avoid that mentality so much.”
The only thing tougher than coaching seniors who have been in a losing program is being a senior in a losing program under a new coach. It is only natural that the coach is going to focus on the future. The best coaches find a way to make those seniors believe their leadership is critical and that if they buy in they will get to feel as if they were part of the start of something good — even if they aren’t around when the results begin to kick in.
Harsh words or not, Leach seems to understand that. Weis, apparently does not. He’s too busy making sure student reporters don’t get out of line to worry about his seniors.
For more by the author, visit his blog at www.feinsteinonthebrink.com. To read his previous columns for The Post, go to washingtonpost.com/feinstein.