Mar 15, 2011, 5:00 PM EDT
With the Florida Gators opening spring practice, new head coach Will Muschamp and his staff opened up for the media. That obviously included new offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, back in college after spending last season with the Kansas City Chiefs.
To call Weis a high-profile offensive coordinator doesn’t really do high-profile service. He’s one of the most recognizable coaches in all of college sports and one of the most polarizing figures to roam the sidelines in quite a while. Not surprisingly, Weis’ first comments to the media since joining the staff in Gainesville were going to get some notice.
CBSSports.com‘s Dennis Dodd has a nice article on Weis and what led him back to college. Contrary to public perception, it had nothing to do with his relationship with Kansas City Chiefs coach Todd Haley, but the demands of his family.
Weis knows that back in Kansas City, there is still speculation that he and head coach Todd Haley — two admittedly brash, bombastic personalities — couldn’t get along. He laughs at the stories that hint at him coming to Florida for the bounce-back job that will make him a head coach again, perhaps even here. In truth, Charlie Weis is out of the NFL, into the SEC — and deliberately out of the limelight — because everything fell right.
You can blame the bus company in Parkville, Mo. The small, pastoral town near the Missouri River was the Weises’ home during their year with the Chiefs. Hannah, their 15-year-old daughter with special needs, has always been at the center of their lives. Last summer, Maura and Charlie Weis were convinced to let Hannah ride the bus home from camp. There was a bit of concern, but the parents were assured their daughter would be dropped off at 12:27 p.m.
By 3 o’clock that day, she hadn’t shown up.
“We’re out riding around town looking for her,” Weis said. “We’re about ready to call the cops. So I’m pissed. I go in[to the school] the next day.”
There were apologies and assurances all around. Then it happened again later in the summer as the Chiefs were breaking camp moving from St. Joseph, Mo., back to Kansas City. School for Hannah had started. She was supposed to be home at 2:45 p.m. At 5 p.m., there was still no Hannah.
“So we did call the cops,” Weis said. “There was no explanation. I called the school and said, ‘I want everyone there tomorrow morning, 9 o’clock. This is two instances.’ My wife wanted to move back right then. It was already over for her. Forget about anything that happened after that.”
As much as there could be truth to the idea that Weis didn’t mesh well with Haley, who once worked as Weis’s subordinate back with the New York Jets, there’s no reason not to believe Weis, who has a fairly strong track record of putting his family first. And while the idea that Charlie could be using the Florida job as a springboard to running another college program makes sense, he refuted those notions, too.
“I didn’t come here with the agenda of, ‘Let’s be Gus Mahlzan. Let’s go get hot,’ Weis said of Auburn’s offensive coordinator. “If I just wanted to get into the mix [for a new job], I’d probably stay in Kansas City. I had the opportunity to take care of my family in a different way than most people.”
Here are a few more interesting comments from Weis who spoke to the assembled media earlier this week in Gainesville:
On Urban Meyer’s program: “I’ve admired Urban and this program from afar from getting beat on the recruiting trails a whole bunch of times.”
On those Super Bowl rings: “If I can just get them to look at my hand instead of my face, I’ve got a good chance.” (He doesn’t wear them anymore.)
On Charlie Jr.’s desire to be a defensive coach: “Let’s hope not.”