Weis takes head coaching job at Kansas
Published: Thursday, December 8, 2011 at 5:21 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, December 8, 2011 at 7:25 p.m.
In a stunning, unexpected twist, offensive coordinator Charlie Weis is leaving Florida to become the new head coach at Kansas. He will be introduced at a news conference in Lawrence, Kan., today.
The news comes just a little more than two weeks after Weis, who is having health issues with his knee and hip, stated that he planned to be at Florida for many years as long as he was wanted.
UF coach Will Muschamp said he was not caught off guard by the news. He said he and Weis talked about Weis possibly taking the Kansas job the past couple of days.
"He was contacted about the job and we talked about it and he told me it was an opportunity he wanted to take, and I support him 1,000 percent," Muschamp said at a Gator Bowl news conference in Jacksonville on Thursday. "I asked him, I said, ‘Is this something you're really interested in doing?' He said, ‘Yeah, I want to talk to them.'
"So, I said, ‘I support you 100 percent if that's what you want to do. I think that's great.' "
Muschamp hired Weis away from the Kansas City Chiefs in January. He is one of the most respected offensive coordinators in football. But his first offense at UF this past season was statistically one of the worst in the SEC, and the worst Gator offense since 1988.
Weis was the highest-paid assistant coach in UF history, signing a three-year, $2.6-million contract when he took the job.
Muschamp now must find a new offensive coordinator at the height of the recruiting season. He said there is no timetable to fill the position.
"You've got to make the right hire," he said. "We will hire somebody very similar (to Weis) schematically.
"We are going to remain a pro-style offense. Now, I'm going to hire the best offensive coordinator in the country."
Muschamp said Jacksonville University coach Kerwin Bell, the former standout UF quarterback, could be a candidate for the job, along with UF running backs coach Brian White, who will be the offensive coordinator through the bowl game.
"I know Kerwin," he said. "He's an outstanding football coach and certainly will be under consideration.
"(White) will be considered. I'm going to do what's best for the University of Florida at the end of the day. We need to improve offensively. We need to improve our football team."
Muschamp also might have to look for a new offensive line coach. Current line coach Frank Verducci was Weis' offensive line coach in 2009 when Weis was the head coach at Notre Dame, and the two are close.
When Mushcamp took the UF job a year ago, he said his most important hire would be his offensive coordinator. About a month later, he made a national splash when he hired Weis, who has four Super Bowl rings and helped New England's Tom Brady develop into one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.
Weis and his pro-style offense brought a lot of excitement to Gainesville, but the UF offense never transferred that to the field, where the Gators struggled throughout the season to sustain drives and score points.
The Gators finished the season ranked 108th nationally in total offense with an average of only 334.2 yards a game. UF averaged only 25.6 points a game and scored 12 points or less in four of its last six SEC games.
Not only was the offense limping along all season, so was Weis, who needed a cane on the sideline the last three games due to hip and knee pain. Muschamp said earlier this week that Weis would require hip surgery after the bowl game.
His health issues prompted reporters to ask Weis if he planned to coach beyond this season at Florida.
"I'm going to coach for a long time," Weis said the week before the FSU game. "My wife says I can't quit. That's not even. …. remember I have a kid (son Charlie) who is a freshman in college here (and working with the football team). Remember the reasons why I came here.
"So, I'll be here for a while, unless you're trying to get rid of me."
Weis' sudden and unexpected departure could be a blow to UF's recruiting class.
UF commitments Colin Thompson and Kent Taylor are elite tight end prospects who chose the Gators to have a chance to play in Weis' offense, which features the tight end position in the passing game.
Muschamp said his program, and the UF players, will be able to move on without Weis.
"(The players) are going to be fine. We're going to be fine," Muschamp said. "We're going to improve and we're going to get better from it. We're going to go out and hire an outstanding coach that's going to fit what I want done within our offense and within our system.
"I'm going to take my time and make sure we hire the right guy and get the right fit, because that's what it's all about."