Charlie Weis is just a few weeks from opening his first fall camp as the head coach of the University of Kansas football team. This camp will mark the beginning of his first full season as head coach and the first opportunity for Kansas fans to evaluate what exactly a Charlie Weis program might look like. All the offseason changes to the program will finally be on display for fans to evaluate on the field with their own eyes, but if early offseason talk is any indication the changes should be a positive.
Following the departure of Turner Gill we've learned quite a bit about the Kansas program during Gill's tenure. Kansas experienced unaddressed issues off the field and in the classroom. The Jayhawk training program clearly left something to be desired as the Jayhawks were consistently overmatched and underprepared on gameday. Add in a disorganized program that was visible in both Gill led spring sessions and you have some very obvious problems that ultimately led to the difficult financial decision by Sheahon Zenger to part ways with Gill.
Now we've had nearly 9 months of Charlie Weis offseason. The former Notre Dame head coach has provided an instant upgrade at the most important decision on the field, he's addressed various needs through unconventional recruiting and he's made a statement in terms of what is and isn't acceptable off the field and in the classroom. While wins and losses will be the ultimate measuring stick, it certainly hints at a positive trend.
First and foremost Weis set out to upgrade the talent in recruiting. Given his contract and the initial commitment by Kansas to Gill, he chose to recruit and build his program with freshman. Gill did not entertain many junior college prospects and transfers weren't really something he showed an interest in either. Gill wanted to build with freshman and build with time. Weis on the other hand has committed to winning and winning now by finding players that can contribute and compete immediately. 5th year transfers, junior college transfers and high school seniors all have a place in the Charlie Weis program.
The second immediate change brought about with the Weis hiring was an environment of accountability and discipline. Kansas had a program void of any real consequences. This resulted in lower grades, other disciplinary issues and an environment that wasn't pushing athletes to be their best. Weis changed that instantly. Kansas football posted the highest ever recorded GPA for the program this spring, several players were removed and some left on their own accord. The result is what everyone hopes will be a change in culture.
Last but certainly not least, Weis stepped up the intensity in the strength and conditioning program. This was the elephant in the room under Gill. Kansas football wasn't preparing at the level it needed to in order to compete in the Big 12 and it wasn't even close. Gill's strength program allowed for individuals to hold themselves accountable and the results were not good. Now Weis has a program that has shown noticeable change in the players physical build this spring and following a summer in intense Kansas heat, those workouts should continue to pay even bigger dividends.
The bottom line with Charlie Weis is that he is going to have to undo two years of a poorly managed program under Gill. Weis is going to have to continue to hold people accountable, provide competition, structure and push players to their limit. It's what made Mark Mangino successful at Kansas and the lack of those things is what ultimately caused the miserable failure under Gill.