One last thought for the moment on Kansas football coach Charlie Weis, something I wish had occurred to me more directly when I wrote about him for Tuesday’s paper and called him refreshing.
I had occasion to interview him in his office in South Bend for 30 minutes just before his first season at Notre Dame in 2005. He was colorful and thoughtful but so sure he was the right man for his dream job at his alma mater that he also came off more cocky than confident.
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He also was a bit uptight and maybe even bullying: After I put my notebook away and chatted with him about a John Belushi doll on his desk, he was insistent I not mention that in my story after I foolishly pulled the notebook back out. It wasn’t like I was going to forget about it or should have needed permission to mention something that observable, but it didn’t seem worth alienating him over.
I’m not sure if he even has the doll on his desk at Kansas, and it seems like the statute of limitations should be up now. If not, sorry, Charlie.
But I digress. That wasn’t the same guy I saw Monday at Big 12 media days. I saw someone who still can be irascible and still speaks his mind, and not necessarily tactfully, but also someone who doesn’t know, can’t know, how this is going to turn out at KU and isn’t acting like he does.
I don’t think humbled is the right word, but I think his experiences in between, including being fired by Notre Dame and going 1-11 last season, have served to make him less brash and more approachable — at least going into the season.
One measure that may not mean much to anyone outside of the media but I think is telling: Weis was patient, even gentle, with young reporters, making sure each got their turn in a crowd and answering with substance.
Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of people in his position handle those dynamics with much less sensitivity, and I think it speaks well of who he has become.
This can all look different fast, of course, in the heat of the season. But it’s all part of the reason I find myself appreciating Weis and where he is now.