Kansas football did what it had to Sunday, firing Charlie Weis just into his third season as head coach.
Why Make the Change Now?
Make no mistake about it: this is something KU had to do right now. Sure, it’s usually not a good thing for a program to terminate its coach in the middle of a season, with eight games remaining on the schedule. However, sometimes a leadership change during the year is the only way to salvage a season. It certainly paid off for USC a year ago, when it replaced Lane Kiffin with Ed Oregeron, who guided the team to a 6-2 finish.
Could this happen at Kansas this season? That seems highly unlikely, considering the brutal Big 12 schedule the Jayhawks must endure.
Yet, since athletic director Sheahon Zenger feels that the team has plenty of talent on campus right now, it makes complete sense to make the move immediately. After all, the program has a grand total of one win against a Power 5 conference under Weis’ watch, which removes any sort of risk from the equation.
In other words: the new leadership couldn’t possibly be any worse. Why not take a well-calculated gamble and see if it pays off?
Offensive Woes Lead to Weis’ Doom
After Saturday’s shutout loss to Texas, it was evident to everyone that Weis is not the right man to lead the Kansas program. Yes, the Jayhawks had a 2-2 record, but those wins were against Southeast Missouri State (FCS) and Central Michigan (MAC). In the two games it played against Power 5 opponents, Kansas wasn’t even remotely competitive, dropping those contests by a margin of 64-3.
Unfortunately, these numbers don’t paint an accurate picture of how horrid the Jayhawk offense truly was under Weis’ leadership.
A closer look at some other statistics will bear this out.
This season, Kansas had 28 drives against Duke and Texas – the only two “big boy” programs that it played. Here’s a breakdown of how each ended:
- 14 drives resulted in a punt
- 7 of the drives ending in punts went three-and-out
- 6 drives ended with a turnover
- 5 drives were stopped on downs
- 1 drive ended when time expired
- 1 drive resulted in a missed field goal
- 1 drive produced points
- 0 drives ended with a touchdown
To make matters worse, the Jayhawks were one of the least explosive offenses in the country. In four games, Kansas has just 13 plays of 20 yards or longer. By comparison, that’s only one more than Miami (OH) WR David Frazier has, and just two more than Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah and Arizona State’s DJ Foster have racked up this season.
Sadly, this type of paltry output is nothing new under Weis’ offense in collegiate ranks. Counting his lone season as the offensive coordinator at Florida, Weis’ scheme has ranked 105th, 95th and 119th nationally in total offense. This year’s team was headed for a similar disaster, averaging just 359 yards per game – 100th nationally after the first four games.
That won’t get the job done in the Big 12, which is loaded with high-octane offenses.
So, what is Kansas going to do moving forward?
It’s tough to say. Unless interim coach Clint Bowen leads the team to a bowl game, it’s tough to see him remaining as the head coach next fall. As a result, Kansas will have to conduct an extensive search to find the right guy to lead the program.
Unfortunately, that’s not an easy task. KU has whiffed miserably on its last two coaching hires, meaning that it absolutely must get this one right. Expect the school to hire a coach with a proven record track record of turning programs around or an impressive history of winning at a place where no one else can.
Ironically, Kansas needs someone just like Kansas State’s Bill Snyder. While the Jayhawks aren’t in as sad a state as the Wildcats were back when Snyder took over in 1989, they do need someone who can transform the program into a consistent winner.