Weis back in collegiate spotlight at Florida

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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.

From Dodd:

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.”

Weis, Verducci join Florida coaching staff


If Irish fans were hoping Urban Meyer’s departure meant the Florida Gators would get rid of any insider information on the Notre Dame football program, they’re out of luck, as former Irish head coach Charlie Weis is leaving the same coordinator job he had in the NFL and joining Will Muschamp’s Florida coaching staff. He’ll be joined by former Irish offensive line coach Frank Verducci.

“Charlie was a perfect fit for what I was looking for in an offensive coordinator,” Muschamp said. “He has both college and pro experience and has been a play-caller in the NFL. He has four Super Bowl rings and his accomplishments and his ability to develop quarterbacks speak for themselves.”

The news that Weis was leaving the Kansas City Chiefs after one season sent shock waves through the football world last week. Most attributed the departure to a rift between Weis and Chiefs head coach Todd Haley, who at one time worked under Weis in the Jets organization. Weis will stay on through the Chiefs playoffs run and he denied any rumors that his relationship with Haley had soured.

“I almost get offended when people say that,” Weis said. “People always want to look for a different angle for why you’re doing this. Scott (Pioli), Todd (Haley), Clark (Hunt), they brought me in to Kansas City when I was sitting at home in South Bend. I’ll be forever grateful for the opportunity I had to come here as the offensive coordinator and I’ll always wish them well.

“This decision had absolutely zero to do with relationships in Kansas City.”
What this decision did have something to do was Weis’ son, Charlie Jr., who will join the Florida support staff as a student assistant, enrolling next year as a freshman at the University of Florida.
“This is one of those unique situations where I can go to a great institution where my son goes to matriculate and be able to spend the next bunch of years watching my son grow,” Weis told the Kansas City Star. “He wants to coach. It took us a very long to try to find a place where he could be involved with the football program in a student assistant capacity. When I finally did talk to Will, we chatted about that and then we talked about me. I had to really reflect on that, spend time with my wife and Charlie. We talked about a whole  bunch of things and at the end of the day, I don’t think anybody could understand how wonderful an opportunity it would be to be able to work at a place and see your kid on a daily basis.”
Muschamp is known as an excellent recruiter, but this has to take the cake as far as combo deals go. Give a freshman son a job in the football office cutting tape and getting coffee and get Weis to walk away from a coordinator job in the NFL, where he just helped a 4-12 NFL team turn into a 10-game division winner, and salvaged Matt Cassel’s career.
Florida running an NFL-style offense will be the ultimate experiment. Under Urban Meyer, they utilized the athleticism of elite recruits and Tim Tebow, running a system that did nothing to improve offensive players pro-readiness, but obviously won a lot of football games. With the rookie head coach Muschamp vowing to change the offense to a more pro-style system, there’s nobody better suited to focus solely on one side of the football and help improve a young quarterback.
Weis himself is no slouch on the recruiting trail, and you’ve got to wonder if his inside knowledge of what Notre Dame offers versus what students will experience at Florida will end up being a thorn in the side of the Irish as they battle for some of the same blue-chip recruits. While many tagged Meyer and then Gator defensive coordinator Greg Mattison’s negative recruiting against Notre Dame as reasons for the flipping of a handful of Irish targets, Weis has been open about his love and respect for Notre Dame, and Verducci raved about the experience as well.