Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger effectively put Charlie Weis on notice last month when he said Weis needs to create “momentum” and added, “Let’s be real clear: momentum is wins.”
That’s not something you say if you believe in someone and truly support them, is it?
And Zenger only reinforced that dynamic with his silence in the last few weeks as murmurs swirled of Weis’ imminent demise.
An athletic director shouldn’t state a false vote of confidence, but Zenger might have let it be known that Weis would get the benefit of his full third season before being evaluated.
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So we can surmise this:
Weis technically wasn’t fired until Sunday morning after his Jayhawks lost 23-0 to Texas the day before, leaving him 6-22 overall and 1-18 in Big 12 games.
But Zenger evidently had lost faith in Weis long ago.
To the point where Weis was given a third season in appearance only.
Weis was always a curious fit for a program that’s long had more questions than answers, and there’s no indication Weis really gained any traction in any direction: on the field, with fans, etc.
And no one knows better than Zenger what real progress was being made beneath the turbulent waters.
That’s why we attached this caveat to what we wrote from the Saturday game about no apparent improvement but potential issues with firing Weis mid-season.
“Unless Zenger sees something troubling behind the scenes or some obvious disconnect, it also makes no sense to shut down Weis now.”
So Zenger either saw something like that or just not anything that made him believe this was progressing on the field.
“I normally do not favor changing coaches mid-season,” Zenger said Sunday in a statement. “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. …
“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.”
Here’s the trouble with this “fresh start” now, though:
The players are left hurt and disillusioned, whether they really believed in Weis or not, and no one thinks enough about the consequences to them.
Any coaching change is hard on players, but a mid-season one disrupts everything in their lives.
Meanwhile, Kansas just looks all the more like a place where football isn’t handled with care … as basketball, naturally, is exalted.
Firing Turner Gill after two years and now Weis in basically the same time frame says a lot about the problematic decisions to hire them, yes.
But it also says something about KU not allowing much time to pick up the pieces of a broken program and trying to put it back together.
Two years is all you get, and that figures to be something potential candidates for the job would consider.
So decide for yourself if Weis didn’t get enough time or had too much.
But if Zenger was going to set the tone for terminating him going into the season and then get rid of him ASAP, then he obviously was leaning that way all along.
So in the end, he did everyone a disservice by allowing Weis to even retain his job after last season.