Senior College Football Columnist

Weis to Kansas crazy and unthinkable, but it could work


Weis, whose last head coaching stint was at Notre Dame, also has three Super Bowl rings. (US Presswire)  
Weis, whose last head coaching stint was at Notre Dame, also has three Super Bowl rings. (US Presswire)  

Albert Pujols and Charlie Weis on the same day.

One is actually believable. The other is a Super Bowl-winning coach trying to reinvent himself at a top-five basketball school.

Pardon us, Charlie, while we re-hinge our jaws.

No matter what happens the rest of this hiring season, the stunner pulled by Kansas on Thursday has become one the stories of the year. Not one of the college football coaching stories, one of the sports stories of the year.

When the word came down Thursday, you didn't know whether to laugh, cry or read the Missouri message boards.

Here's why Weis-to-Kansas defies the natural laws of science: It makes no sense. It also makes great sense. It seems like an awkward fit, but so was Notre Dame at the end. Kansas just doesn't do this. There's still that Irish aura that exists for some. Hell, Bob Davie is reinventing himself at New Mexico. At this rate, Ara Parseghian is about to be introduced at Arizona State.

Weis and his family were happy at Florida, where he was offensive coordinator. Most importantly, Florida was happy with him.

One high-ranking Florida official was "blown way" by Weis' departure. The 55-year-old Weis just took a job about 45 miles from a place his wife vowed they had to leave. In August 2010 while he was coaching with the Kansas City Chiefs, there were issues with Weis' special needs daughter Hannah. Weis lasted a year with the Chiefs, but only because the family couldn't take the environment in Parkville, Mo.

Lawrence is across the state line, but close to their old home. You would think it would have to remind Maura of those troubled times.

You can only imagine what Kansas is feeling at the moment. They get a coach who has more Super Bowl rings (three) than the program has major bowls in the last 43 years (two).

But it isn't like they are getting Weis at the top of his game. Or maybe they are. Those natural laws of science are confusing. This is his fourth job in four years. When the word came down, my first two thoughts were: 1) There had to be personal issues that made it easier for him to move to KU and/or 2) an unquenchable desire to be a head coach again no matter where.

Kansas is definitely one of those no-matter-where places. In Lawrence, football has to be just good enough not to embarrass basketball. When Roy Williams was flirting with North Carolina the first time in 2000, they held the press conference to announce he was staying at the football stadium. That was the only place that was big enough for the assembled crowd to watch it televised on the video board.

Turner Gill had embarrassed the program lately, going 5-19 in two depressing seasons. Gill was a mentoring good guy. Before that Mark Mangino stepped down after allegedly mistreating players. What Kansas needed was a guy with the temperament of Gill and the coaching ability of Mangino. It's hard to remember now, but Mangino led the Jayhawks to an Orange Bowl four years ago. Only two coaches in the school's history have stayed longer than his eight years.

Kansas got a ball-buster. Weis can be a surly, loud and demanding. Warning to Kansas athletic employees: If you don't like it, leave. Right now. He ain't changing.

Maybe Weis didn't win enough for Notre Dame, but at other stops he was a smashing success -- those Super Bowls with the Patriots, that one-year stay with Chiefs where Matt Cassel became an All-Pro, Kansas City won the division and the team led the NFL in rushing.

Pujols won't be the last free agent to take the highest dollar. But money had to be the last consideration for Weis. He was making at least $4 million a year at Notre Dame. When he was fired, the buyout was $6.6 million. Weis had become the highest-paid assistant in Florida history ($2.6 million over three years).

Instead, this was a personal adventure for Weis and KU AD Sheahon Zenger. His was a stealth search. Zenger was determined to make a splash hire. Done. He wants to make Kansas football matter. In terms of attention, at this moment, it does. Now it actually has to win games existing in the shadow of Kansas State and National Coach of the Year Bill Snyder. The Big 12 was arguably the toughest conference in the country this season.

The bar has been lowered for a guy used to competing at the highest levels. Notre Dame was expected to compete for championships. Kansas just wants to go bowling on a regular basis. Since 2007, those two programs aren't much different from each other. Notre Dame has exactly two more wins than KU -- 32-30. The question is, how will this personal adventure end?

Weis is about to get the first indication of where he and Kansas football stand in Lawrence. It's likely he will be introduced Saturday at halftime -- of the Ohio State-Kansas basketball game.

Anyone in need of a credential from all the BCS title games? Dennis Dodd has them. In three decades in the business, he's covered everything from the Olympics to Stanley Cup to conference realignment. Just get him on campus in a press box in the fall. His heart lies with college football.

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