Gators and Weis a 'dream' match
Published: Monday, January 3, 2011 at 8:42 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 3, 2011 at 8:42 p.m.
After Florida's new coach, Will Muschamp, outlined what he was looking for in an offensive coordinator at his introductory news conference last month, media types (and fans) from across the state went straight to Google to search.
Let's see. Muschamp said he wanted someone who is an experienced play-caller with a background in the NFL and college.
Numerous candidates quickly emerged.
One name that did not pop up (or did but was simply ignored) was Charlie Weis.
He seemed unattainable.
This is a man who was the head coach at Notre Dame for five seasons, who was in his ninth season as an NFL offensive coordinator this year, who coached on four Super Bowl-winning teams, who helped develop Tom Brady into an elite NFL quarterback and a future Hall of Famer, who was mentored by two of the greatest coaches in NFL history (Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick).
But Muschamp is friends with Weis, and he had another strong connection — Weis' son, Charlie Jr.
Charlie Jr. aspires to be a football coach, and he was looking for a college where he could become a student assistant after he graduates from high school this year. Muschamp recently came up with a spot for him in Gainesville.
During conversations with the Weis family, Muschamp started pursuing Weis to become his offensive coordinator. He got his guy. On Monday, Muschamp announced that Weis, the offensive coordinator with the Kansas City Chiefs, had been hired to run the Gators' offense.
Weis told the Kansas City Star that his son's future in Gainesville played a role in his decision to accept Muschamp's offer.
"This was a really tough decision for the Weis family," Weis said. "This opportunity is one of those unique situations where I can go to a great institution where my son goes to matriculate and be able to spend the next bunch of years watching my son grow.
"He wants to coach. It took us very long to try to find a place where he could be involved with the football program in a student-assistant capacity. When I finally did talk to Will, we chatted about that and then we talked about me. I had to really reflect on that, spend time with my wife and Charlie. We talked about a whole bunch of things and at the end of the day, I don't think anybody could understand how wonderful an opportunity it would be to be able to work at a place and see your kid on a daily basis.
“It's a tough business. To go to a program like Florida and be able to be around my kid at the same time ... is almost a dream.''
It's a dream hire for Florida.
Weis, 54, is considered to have one of the best offensive minds in football. He has a long and proven track record as an offensive coordinator in the NFL and a reputation for developing quarterbacks. At New England, he took a sixth-round draft pick (Brady) and helped him become a perennial Pro Bowler. At Notre Dame, he developed Brady Quinn and Jimmy Clausen into NFL quarterbacks.
About a year ago, Brady had this to say about Weis in The Boston Herald: "Charlie and I always stay in touch. He's always been a great friend of mine. We have a great relationship. He's a great guy and a great coach. Any team would be lucky to have him."
Muschamp seems to feel that way.
“Charlie was a perfect fit for what I was looking for in an offensive coordinator,” Muschamp said. “He has both college and pro experience and has been a play-caller in the NFL. He has four Super Bowl rings, and his accomplishments and his ability to develop quarterbacks speak for themselves."
Weis began his NFL coaching career in 1990 as an offensive assistant for the New York Giants under Parcells. A year later, he became the Giants running backs coach. In 1993, Parcells hired Weis to be his tight ends coach at New England, where the two coached together until Parcells became the head coach of the New York Jets in 1997. Parcells took Weis with him to New York and made him the Jets' offensive coordinator, a role he held for three seasons.
In 2000, Weis returned to New England to work for Belichick. He was the Patriots' offensive coordinator through the 2004 season.
Weis was on one Super Bowl-winning team with the Giants and three with the Patriots. At New England, he played a key role in the development of Brady, and his offenses were among the most productive in the NFL.
In 2005, he became the head coach at Notre Dame. The Irish tried to hire then-Utah coach Urban Meyer first, but Jeremy Foley beat them to the punch, hiring Meyer before he had serious talks with Notre Dame officials. Notre Dame eventually hired Weis, luring the NFL's top offensive coordinator to South Bend.
Weis made such a favorable early impression at Notre Dame that he was awarded a new 10-year contract midway through his first season that was supposed to keep him in South Bend through the 2015 season.
Weis led the Irish to back-to-back BCS bowl games in his first two seasons while compiling a 19-5 record. But the Irish fell off to 3-9 in 2007 and then had back-to-back 6-6 seasons that cost Weis his job.
Weis was not out of work long. He was hired by the Chiefs as offensive coordinator, where he had helped lead Kansas City into the playoffs this season (he will stay with the Chiefs through the playoffs).
In Kansas City, Weis helped revive the career of struggling quarterback Matt Cassel, who had an impressive rebound season in 2010.
"The first thing I wanted to do was help fix the quarterback," Weis said.
Weis' next quarterback "fix" could be at Florida, where the slumping John Brantley seems to have lost his confidence coming out of a disappointing 2010 season. Brantley, the former Ocala Trinity Catholic star, seemed an uncomfortable fit in Meyer's spread-option offense. His skill set would appear to be a more natural fit for the kind of pro-style offense Weis is known for.
Brantley is expected to decide in the next few days whether to return to UF for his senior season, or pursue an opportunity elsewhere.
"We haven't had a chance to sit down with John and talk about it yet," Brantley's father, John Brantley III, said Monday. "We'll do that soon, and then we'll decide what's best for John."
He said he didn't know what impact Weis' hiring would have on his son's decision.
"I haven't even had a chance to look into that," Brantley III said. "It does sound like a great hire for the University of Florida."
Weis, a native of Trenton, N.J., began his coaching career at Boonton High School in New Jersey in 1979. From there, he went to Morristown High School. In 1985, he became an assistant coach at South Carolina, where he spent four seasons before returning to New Jersey. In 1990, he joined the Giants.
Florida's new offensive coordinator will bring an extensive medical history with him to Gainesville as well. To deal with weight issues, Weis underwent gastric bypass surgery in 2002. But there were complications following the surgery, and Weis spent two weeks in a coma and almost died. He recovered and later tried to sue the doctors for malpractice but lost. This past September, Weis underwent emergency surgery in Kansas City to remove an infected gall bladder.
Early in the 2008 season at Notre Dame, Weis was hit on the sideline by one of his players in the Michigan game and had to undergo reconstructive knee surgery.
Over the years, Weis has been known to be dour and abrupt at times with the news media, but he also has a reputation for being a player's coach.
At Florida, Weis will install a pro-style offense that will feature a sophisticated passing attack along with an emphasis on the running game.
Some around the country might be wondering if this is a short-term hire for the Gators. But with Weis' son also coming to UF, the highly regarded offensive coordinator could be settling in with the Gators for the long term.
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or email@example.com.
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