Charlie Weis is nothing if not brutally honest. Whether it's assessing his team's 2012 season, his own experience and the best and worst things about college football, the second-year Kansas head coach calls them like he sees them. We caught up with Weis to talk about college vs. NFL, adjusting to the Big 12, his social media habits and more in Tuesday's edition of 10 Questions With.
To view past installments of 10 Questions With, please visit the archives.
1) In what ways will your team improve after last year's 1-11 campaign?
We better be better in a lot of ways to be perfectly honest with you. There wasn't one area of our team, other than our running game and our running back position that I could say played winning-level football. We weren't good in the kicking game, we weren't good in the passing game, our quarterback play was poor. We've gone through a total revamping of our team. We brought in a bunch of junior college players that we intend to get into the mix quickly.
In my case, unlike a lot of other teams that can start with a lot of positives, other than the running back position that I thought was our best by far last year - I think even that position should be deeper and better than it was last year. So there isn't any area where I wouldn't expect an improvement.
2) I thought you looked much better than a 1-11 team at many times last year. Do you think your team fell victim to a historically deep Big 12 that sent nine of its 10 teams to bowl games?
I think we were a victim of not being able to close out close games. I think when you answer your question "yes", you're making excuses. The bottom line is, we were in a half-dozen games that we had a chance of winning at the end of the game that we didn't win. I think that part of the learning process to go from a losing mentality to a winning mentality is when you're in those close games you close them out and win. We had opportunities to hold leads that we didn't, and we had opportunities where we were down less than a score where we didn't make that key play to win the game. I've always been grilled you are what you are. You need to win the close games, but the first thing the team needs to do is to learn that when you're in those close games that something good is going to happen, not something bad.
3) You employ a sport psychologist on your staff. Is that something you installed once you took over?
When you're talking about 18-to-22 year old men, a lot of times they don't open up completely of things outside of just football to you. I think that having a venue to go to to talk about life and talk about home and talk about school, talk about pressures, talk about those things, I think that to have an availability to kids is a very, very good, positive resource.
4) What do you prefer about the college game over the NFL?
I don't prefer the college game over the NFL. I like them both the same. They're different, now. They're very different. I don't prefer one over the other. I like them both. The one good thing about college, I'll give you the best thing and the worst thing.
The best thing and the worst thing about college are both related to the amount of hours that you have a week to spend with the players. You only get 20 hours a week with the players. So what that means is when they're going to class til 2:30 in the afternoon, you have from five o'clock in the morning to 2:30 in the afternoon where you can be studying tape and game-planning and preparing for practice. In the NFL, you don't have that time because the players are in by seven o'clock in the morning. All your work has to be done at night time when you're tired. At night time when the players have left and you've finished watching practice, now you're game planning for the next day. It's 12 o'clock at night and you're making decisions on things that you have to have prepared by the time the players come in the next morning. It's nice to be able to be fresh in the morning and be able to come up with your ideas while the players are in class. Simultaneously, that 20 hours is also the worst thing because you have a limited amount of time you can spend with the players, whereas in the NFL there's no limit to how much time you can spend with them.
5) You've embraced Twitter and Facebook pretty enthusiastically. How much of a learning curve did you have with social media?
I'm still way behind the eight-ball on that one. Fortunately I have a 20-year old son that has an office down the hall from me that is light years ahead of me as far as that goes. But I do my own Twitter and I do my own Facebook so when I make a mistake it's me making a mistake, or if I say something stupid it's me saying something stupid. I'm not one of those coaches who has somebody else manning the site for me. I actually do the stuff on my own.
5a) We enjoyed this tweet from you the other day about how you stayed up watching the Stanley Cup Finals while Facebooking recruits. How much time do you spend doing that?
When I get home, I make sure that my kid already had dinner and everything like that, I flip on (TV) - last night it was the hockey game, tonight it will be the basketball game - I flip that on, I open up my laptop, I go to Facebook and sit there and legally communicate with recruits that you can't call. It happens every day.
6) How do you use the Kansas basketball program to benefit Kansas football?
There's two different ways. One is just by having our players watch how their team plays not with just passion but how they play such team basketball. Coach Self and his staff have done a wonderful job of getting everyone to buy into the team concept and it's pretty obvious when you watch them play. It's a great example for our players to see how a bunch of guys can mesh together and mesh so well. Another way, if I had my druthers every Saturday in January there'd be a home basketball game so when you had official visits in you could bring them to Allen Fieldhouse. I've been to Cameron, I've been to a lot of those places, there's no better environment to watch a basketball game than Allen Fieldhouse. When we bring recruits in for a weekend that there's a game on Saturday it doesn't make a difference who they're playing, that place is rocking and rolling and it sends a very good message.
7) You brought in Dave Campo last year as assistant head coach for defense and defensive backs coach. How quickly did he become re-acclimated to the college game after a quarter-century in the NFL?
He's still adjusting, to be perfectly honest with you. I've done it a lot more recently than him, obviously, both at Florida and at Notre Dame. X's and O's are X's and O's, that really doesn't change. But the speed of the game that the offenses play in the Big 12, that's one thing that you adjust on the fly because in the NFL very few teams play at the pace (of the Big 12). Not just no huddle, but as quickly as they snap the ball. That's something that is probably the biggest things from going to the NFL from all those years to coming to college.
8) With the experience you two have in the NFL, how much is the league brought up in your program on a day-to-day basis?
We don't talk about it in the program other than when you're involved with recruiting players. Every player really wants three things. They want to get a good education, they want an opportunity to play and, God willing, they would like an opportunity to play on Sunday. Every player you recruit wants those three things. Now, some of them don't want them in that order, if you know what I'm saying, but they all want those three things. Between the head coach and the assistant head coach, you take the two guys and add up their years of 39 years in the NFL and seven rings, that's a pretty enticing fact.
9) What do you like to do when you get away from football?
When I'm not working, I'm usually doing something with your family or for your family. Most of our time away from football is spent doing work with people for special needs. I have a daughter with special needs and we have a charity for people with special needs called Hannah and Friends and I spend as much time as I can doing things with my wife for people with special needs when I'm not working.
10) Speaking of your family, how much are you enjoying having your son as part of the program?
You know that American Express commercial, "Priceless"? Usually when your kid goes to college they go away and you hardly ever see them. My kid walks in the office 10 times a day. Just to be able to do that one fist bump to start off the day when you see him, it really makes you feel good about being able to spend quality time even though he tries to avoid me like the plague most of the time.