The coaching carousel seems to start earlier every year, and on Sunday it claimed another victim. Kansas fired Charlie Weis, who was in the third year of a five-year deal.
The Jayhawks lost to Texas 23-0 on Saturday, falling to 2-2 on the season and 6-22 in Weis’ tenure. More notably, they have gone 1-18 in league play. Kansas’ sole Big 12 win under Weis was a 31-19 victory over West Virginia on Nov. 16, 2013.
Athletic director Sheahon Zenger addressed the school's decision in a statement. "I appreciate what Coach Weis did with several facets of our football program," he said. "But we have not made the on-the-field progress we believe we should. I believe new leadership gives our coaches and players the best chance to make a fresh start."
For Weis, this likely spells the end of his once-promising head-coaching career. After rising to prominence an as offensive coordinator with the New York Jets and New England Patriots, he was named Notre Dame’s 28th head coach on Dec. 12, 2004. He went 19-6 in his first two years at the helm -- including playing in the Fiesta and Sugar bowls -- before posting a 3-9 record in ’07. He was fired in ’09 after a 6-6 campaign that pushed his career mark with the Fighting Irish to 35-27.
Weis then spent a year as offensive coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs and a year in the same position with the Florida Gators before being scooped up by the Jayhawks in December 2011. He vowed to bring the program back to respectability as part of a five-year plan, something that didn’t come to fruition. Things got so bad Weis called his team “a pile of crap” when explaining his sales pitch to recruits at Big 12 media days in ‘13.
“Everyone wants to play,” Weis said. “There's no one that wants to not play. I said, have you looked at that pile of crap out there? Have you taken a look at that? So if you don't think you can play here, where do you think you can play? It's a pretty simple approach. And that's not a sales pitch. That's practical. You've seen it, right? Unfortunately, so have I.”
This move may not fix much for Kansas, but it acknowledges that something needed to change. The Jayhawks are Big 12 bottom-feeders, a role they have historically occupied but a spot they escaped from just a few years ago. In 2007, Kansas went 12-1 and won the Orange Bowl under former coach Mark Mangino. They started 11-0 that season and climbed as high as No. 2 in the AP Poll.
As programs like Baylor have transformed from doormats to perennial contenders, Kansas has remained in the Big 12 basement. Sure, the school will always be known for its basketball. But a 1-18 conference record was never going to cut it.
"I normally do not favor changing coaches midseason," Zenger said. "But I believe we have talented coaches and players in this program, and I think this decision gives our players the best chance to begin making progress right away."
Kansas defensive coordinator Clint Bowen has been named interim head coach. The Jayhawks have a bye week before playing at West Virginia on Oct. 4.