For Weis, now the fun can begin

No more off-season obligations. No more waiting. With the arrival of fall camp Wednesday evening, the Kansas Jayhawks are ready to get back on the practice field - back to focusing on football. And nobody is happier, or more ready, than Head Coach Charlie Weis.

Early Wednesday morning, Charlie Weis met with his staff.

The end of the off-season was so close he could almost reach out and touch it. No more alumni stops, no more strength and conditioning workouts in preparation for the season. No more restrictions on the time he can spend with his players.


Well, almost anyway. He still had to travel to Topeka later in the morning to speak with a collection of football coaches, but after that it was smooth sailing all the way to Thursday's first practice of the year.

And for Weis - whose wife, Maura, was happy see him return to Lawrence, Kan. from their home in Florida because of how antsy and excited he'd become - it comes not a moment to soon.

"I'm sitting in the staff meeting this morning and I said 'Just one more function, fellas,'" Weis said. "'Let me get through speaking to these high school coaches. Let me get through just one more thing.'"

On the surface, being the head coach of the Kansas Jayhawks should necessitate a rather sizable adjustment for him. Not only is he coming off two years as an offensive coordinator - first with the Kansas City Chiefs and then the Florida Gators - but he last owned the sideline as a head coach at his alma mater, the University of Notre Dame.

Things are a little bit different there. It's the difference between coaching in front of 50,000 at Kansas and almost 81,000 in South Bend, Ind.; between recruiting nationally and recruiting regionally; and between trying to please a fan base who just wants improvement and one which expects to be in the hunt for the national title almost every single year.

But Weis doesn't view things through the lens of public perception. To him, nothing has changed.

"I'm more motivated than I've ever been, to make this program successful," he explained. "There might be more unknowns (at Kansas), but I have the same obligation to the administration, to the fan base and to the university. I have the same obligation to work as hard as I possibly can, to get us as good as I possibly can as quick as I possibly can."

During Big 12 Media Days in Dallas late last month, Weis espoused that viewpoint and had it suggested that he might be a little "off base." He couldn't disagree more.

"That's what I do," he said. "To me, the job is the same. I mean, okay, Notre Dame is a big national (fan) base. What difference does it make? Fans are fans. Alumni are alumni. We still owe them the same thing."

So as the season progresses, how does one measure the quality of Weis' work? By what standard is success expected to be judged?

The Big 12 is brutal, after all, and the Jayhawks face one of the toughest schedules in the country. Then there's the matter of the program coming off two straight losing seasons during which it won a combined five games.

Jayhawk Nation would be happy with ambiguous barometers such as "competitiveness" and "visible improvement." Such is the attitude of a fan base starved for even a semblance of quality football.

Then again, Weis is not a fan, and he's not sitting in the stands watching someone else's team play. He can't seem to fathom not having high expectations for the 2012 edition of Kansas Jayhawks football.

It always - always - comes back to wins and losses. And not just striving for four wins, because it would be an improvement, but for more. For real success.

"As a coach, you can't be thinking like that," Weis said. "What coach in their right mind would ever be thinking 'God, if we could just win four games!'"

And if the coach is thinking that way…

"Then you hired the wrong coach," he added, simply. "You really did. You hired the wrong guy. Now, I might have illusions of grandeur, but my expectations are way higher than yours are, I can promise you. Because that's what they're supposed to be. That's what they're paying me for."

And it isn't as if he's unaware of just how monumental the job of turning around Kansas football may prove to be. He finally broke down and watched the game film from the 2011 season, and was amazed - and not in a good way - by what he found.

Blowout losses left and right? Kansas out of the game well before halftime, with startling regularity? How was this happening?

"That just doesn't cut it," he said. "I understand about talent discrepancies. I got it. One team has a lot more talented guys than the other team. But to have games get away from you that quickly and by that wide a margin, if I were one of those fans I would have left at halftime and not come back myself."

All of which is why he's so happy to finally be looking ahead, and seeing nothing but practice fields and football in front of him - with the first game now just a month away. Now the real work begins.

Wednesday night, the team will gather for its first meeting of the season. And though he's excited, Weis won't have a whole lot to say.

"I'll tell them to be on time," he said. "Do what they're supposed to do. I'll tell them we have a long laundry list of things (to work on). I'll basically tell them it's time to quit talking. And that's me, too. You have me now, you don't have me for a while. It's time to quit talking."

"Let's go to work." Top Stories