Lane Kiffin ready to unleash prodigy Charlie Weis Jr. on the college football world
Weis Jr. is no average 24-year-old as he takes over FAU's offense in 2018
Lane Kiffin knows a little something about B.S. He's, well, Lane Kiffin.
So when it came time to interview a 21-year-old prodigy for an analyst's position at Alabama a few years back, Kiffin was ready to call you-know-what.
Charlie Weis Jr. couldn't be this good, Kiffin thought. Nick Saban already had heard enough about the kid in 2015 that he arranged a meeting between his then-offensive coordinator and the son of the former Patriots offensive coordinator and Notre Dame coach.
Weis Jr. was breaking down film as a teenager. He didn't drink, got straight A's, and was a devout Christian.
And there was that beautiful football mind.
"We're at dinner and "I'm like, 'All right, I don't buy into this photographic memory stuff,'" Kiffin said of Weis Jr. "I get my credit card and license and give them to him for five minutes.
"I start asking questions about what was on there. He knew everything. The next day he still knew it."
Birth date. Credit card number, expiration date. Everything. Real David Blaine-type stuff. That begins to explain why in January Weis Jr. became college football's youngest offensive coordinator. Now, and perhaps ever.
At an age when most millennials are deciding between Pay Pal and Venmo, it seems that Weis Jr. has paid his dues, figuring out the nation's most popular game.
"What's cool is, that basically happens in a game," Kiffin said of that memory. "Charlie can be up top [in the coaches' box] and see something and memorize a 10-play series."
If you haven't heard, Charlie Weis Jr. is college football's Next Top Model Coach. Everyone seems to know about him. His endorsements come from the likes of Saban, Bill Belichick and NFL personnel guru Gil Brandt.
"I've met two people in my life where I knew, without a doubt, he would be a successful coach," Brandt told Bleacher Report. "One was Bill Belichick."
Who was the other?
"He just got up and walked away," Brandt said after meeting Weis Jr. in 2011.
That was at the tender age of 18. In high school, Weis Jr. was breaking down film for the St. Joseph High coaching staff. On Saturdays, he was helping Notre Dame's defensive staff signal in plays.
Like his dad, he never played the game.
"That let him see how fast things were moving," Weis Sr. told CBS Sports. "A lot of the fans at Notre Dame would bitch and moan about what's my kid doing on the sideline? Let's say this: Why would any parent with an opportunity not want their kid around?"
This wasn't a case of nepotism.
"His mother and father tried to discourage him from doing this," Weis Sr. said. "We'd say, 'You're really smart. Go be a doctor or something.' "
Weis Jr. arrived in Boca Raton from the Falcons where he was an offensive assistant. Atlanta offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian -- a former Alabama analyst himself -- wanted him after leaving the Tide in 2016. Kiffin had originally brought Weis Jr. to FAU from Alabama as a tight ends coach.
At Kansas with his dad from 2012-2014, Weis Jr. was a student manager working with the offense. In 2011, he was an intern for Will Muschamp at Florida.
All of them saw something special.
Kiffin could use Weis Jr.'s memory to recall years-old plays, yard lines, opponents, even which hash mark a play originated from. Weis Jr. would brief Muschamp before press conferences on the defensive tendencies of Florida's opponents.
"He would be putting in 30-50 hours a week with us," Weis Sr. said of the Florida days. "He spent not one second of his time being a college kid. He would be with us all day.
"The only thing Charlie wouldn't be doing something football-wise was when he had a class commitment."
Weis Sr. was Florida's offensive coordinator for that one year in 2011. For the next three years at Kansas, his son got his degree while working with quarterbacks, running backs and receivers.
Upon his dad's firing in September 2014 at Kansas, Alabama analyst Eric Kiesau recommended Weis Jr. to Saban. A weekend interview in Tuscalossa lasted 10 hours -- five hours each with Saban and Kiffin.
Twenty-one-year-old Charlie faced competition from a couple of UAB veterans who had just lost their jobs when the program shut down.
He got the job.
When Kendal Briles left for Houston, Kiffin knew exactly who he'd go after. Falcons coach Dan Quinn reluctantly lost Weis Jr.
A budding career in the NFL was ended for now to call plays for one of the best play callers in the business.
"He had all A's in every single thing he's ever done," Kiffin said. "Normally those kids can't socialize. That's not him at all.
"He's got a beautiful wife. How'd Charlie get her? I look at assistant coaches' wives. It tells me if they are good recruiters or not."
Weis Jr. takes over an offense that led Conference USA in scoring and rushing, and has its best weapons back. Tailback Devin Singletary rushed for almost 2,000 yards and led the nation with 32 rushing touchdowns.
Ah, but who will actually call plays?
"That's still up in the air," Kiffin said.
What's not is what it means to be so young with so much responsibility.
"I hate to sound arrogant but at 24, I was the USC tight ends coach," Kiffin said. "But he had a lot more experience than I did [at that age]."
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