The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

July 25, 2013

HERTZEL COLUMN: Kansas coach Charlie Weis shows honesty

MORGANTOWN — The beauty of these football conference media days such as the one the Big 12 just went through is that in the midst of all the unmitigated propaganda and out-and-out lies there often comes one ray of sunshine that makes it all worthwhile.

Seldom does it come from the successful coaches, who are trying disguise which of their three high school All-American quarterbacks has won the starting job or where his top recruit stands in terms of qualifying to play for the season.

Instead, it comes from a coach whose job probably is very much in jeopardy, whose talent level is lower than his fullback’s grade-point average and who, to be honest, can’t put himself into a worse situation no matter what he says.

In other words, you gotta love Charlie Weis.

True, the Kansas coach is in possession of a Super Bowl ring from New England, one that he actually earned rather than purchasing it on Ebay, although another 1-11 season that included zero Big 12 victories like last year and he may wind up selling it there.

Now there was much news coming out of Big 12 Media Day, from the unveiling of a new logo to the revelation that highlights from other games will be shown in stadia around the conference, probably during what could be an endless string of timeouts as officials try to decide if a hit qualified as targeting under a new rule.

But it was Weis who stole the show as he spoke from his heart as he explained how he approaches recruiting against the likes of Oklahoma, Texas, Oklahoma State and instate rival Kansas State from the depths at which his program resides.

“We’re 1-11 and picked by everybody to finish last in the league, and that’s justifiable,” Weis said during his media session. “If I were you, I’d pick us in the same spot. We’ve given you no evidence or no reason to be picked anywhere other than that.”

Having admitted that, what can he possibly say to a recruit looking at his program?

“Everyone wants to play. There’s no one that wants to not play,” he began. “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.”

Pile of crap?

Honest, that is what Weis says he tells his recruits, knowing full well they know the record, know his team ranked 113th nationally in total defense and 115th in scoring offense.

He figures the first step is to be honest and then he has to improve … and do it quickly for no university is going to let you repeat such a performance.

But how do you recruit to improve quickly when quite frankly, high school kids aren’t looking to play in the midst of a “pile of crap”?

Weis went out and brought in 18 junior college kids, kids looking for a chance to excel, kids like Weis who may not have a lot of time left to impress.

Weis explained why he was saying what he was saying a while later.

“My honesty works both ways (in recruiting),” Weis said. “Sarcasm is part of who I am. I’m not trying to be funny when I use it; it’s just part of who you are.

“When I say these things it’s not to show how witty I can be. I’m going to be sarcastic five years from now. Hey, news flash: I’m gonna be sarcastic in five years. When kids know you’re going to treat them honest, they’re going to respect you.”

One such player is a transfer quarterback, Jake Heaps from BYU. While Kansas ran the ball well a year ago and had the Big 12’s leading rusher – which may be like being West Virginia’s best 3-point shooter last basketball season – the Jayhawks were atrocious throwing it.

Weis gambled with Heaps, who was the nation’s top QB recruit in 2010, had a record-breaking freshman season, then fell apart in 2011 and sat after transferring last year.

He let the quarterback know what he was getting into, let him see it for himself up close and personal, and now he is giving him that last chance to be part of building it back up while saving Weis’ job and career.

“I think when I left BYU, my confidence was at an all-time low. I mean, how do you not have that?” Heaps said. “You totally expect one thing, and it ends up turning another way. But Coach Weis loved me for me, loved the kid that came from Skyline High School that was passionate about football. Every day that I’ve been here has been a process to get back to that point.

“He’s always had faith in me,” Heaps said.

In truth, he really didn’t have much choice, but that’s neither here nor there.

He is, above all else, straightforward and honest.

“That’s what we love as players; we love how candid he is,” Heaps told the Lawrence (Kansas) Journal-World. “We know exactly where we stand with him. We don’t have to worry about him sugarcoating it and him playing mind games with us. It’s all about honesty. And it pushes you to get better. At least you know where you stand.”

Email Bob Hertzel at or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.

Text Only
Bob Herzel
  • HERTZEL COLUMN- WVU faithful again have a reason to root against Vick

    It would be one final indignation, that’s what it would be if Michael Vick were to beat out Geno Smith and win the starting quarterback job with the New York Jets.

    April 23, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Luck open to WVU fans’ suggestions

    West Virginia’s fans have spoken, perhaps not verbally but nonetheless have had their voices heard, over the past few years as attendance has fallen at the Mountaineers’ football and basketball games.

    April 22, 2014

  • Mountaineers ready for slate of rivalry games

    Looking to put together a late-season run to get into the NCAA championships, West Virginia faces a pair of midweek rivalry games in a crucial five-game week coming off winning two of three games at Oklahoma.

    April 22, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Summer, Alabama will be used to get WVU’s mind right

    The ink had barely dried on the final reports out of West Virginia’s spring practice when thoughts turned forward toward the lazy, hazy days of late summer, days that will bring us into football season with a game that can either change the entire image of WVU football or sour it even further.

    April 21, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Watson tees off a new century at The Greenbrier

    You knew this was going to be one of those unpredictable, memorable days when you drove into the Greenbrier Resort and headed to the Old White Golf Course and found the best parking place in the joint.
    As Bob Uecker would say, right there in the front rooooow.

    April 20, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Under pressure, NCAA decides to change rules

    At first glance, it appears that they do not go hand-in-hand, a pair of rules changes the NCAA’s Legislative Council approved this week, sending them off for what seems to be smooth sailing toward becoming rules.

    April 18, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU gymnast hopes to stick her final landing

    The reaction, one suspects, was the same as most people who see either a picture of West Virginia University gymnast Hope Sloanhoffer or meet her for the first time in person — a quick double take, maybe even stumbling over the first few words of an introduction.

    April 17, 2014

  • Bussie looks forward to WNBA

    On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
    It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.

    April 16, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Jackie Robinson’s impact extends beyond baseball

    It is Jackie Robinson Day as I sit here writing this today, and I feel as though I am doing it in a world gone mad.
    Every player in Major League Baseball wore No. 42 on Tuesday in honor of Jackie Robinson, the man who took racism’s best shot and integrated the game that was known then as the National Pastime even though it was as white a Ku Klux Klan robe.

    April 16, 2014

  • Gyorko, Padres agree to extension

    Jedd Gyorko, who hasn’t hit much of anything with a .178 start on this season, hit the jackpot on Monday, signing a six-year contract extension with the San Diego Padres for $35 million with a one-year club option at $13 million.

    April 15, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads