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July 22, 2013

Weis sells playing time on bad team

MORE: Numbers game: Projecting the top 25 classes

DALLAS -- Charlie Weis doesn't much care about anyone's feelings.

During a 15-minute chunk of Monday afternoon, he called the team he coached last season a "pile of crap" and sarcastically wondered aloud where a player could find immediate playing time if he couldn't find it at Kansas.

This is the rebuilding strategy in Lawrence. It's all part of a recruiting pitch -- a recruiting pitch that seems to be working.

Despite what last year's 1-11 record suggests, the seasoned head coach is at Kansas to win football games. That's the lone goal. And, at least on paper, he seems to be building toward doing that.

Weis shouldn't be hailed as a conquering hero. Not yet. There's plenty of water to be dumped on his decision to bring in 21 junior college players in last year's class. It's not as though KU's current No. 56 recruiting ranking is Alabama-esque, either. Still, the list of schools Weis is beating for prospects is impressive. It's a fact that won't change even if his JUCO experiment explodes in his face like a can of soda fresh out of a paint shaker.

Whatever the case, Weis is selling players with options on a Kansas program that has spent the last few falls getting hammered like fence posts. As it turns out, he's doing it by convincing the world the talent on his roster is downright putrid.

"Everyone wants to play," Weis said of his recruiting pitch. "There's no one that wants to not play. So I say, 'Have you looked at that pile of crap out there? Have you taken a look at that? If you don't think you can play here, where do you think you can play?'"

It's not just a tagline designed to grab headlines and steal laughs. He may tone it down a touch in the living room, but he doesn't mince words. If he hurts the feelings of his current players, so be it.

"The problem with me is that I'm a very straightforward person, and these players either really like you or they can't stand you," Weis said. "It's one or the other."

Defensive back Cassius Sendish, who signed with the Jayhawks out of Arizona Western Community College, has heard the monologue in person. He didn't find it as funny as the media members in attendance on Monday. Instead, he jumped at the chance.

Sendish didn't commit to KU to play for a national title. He didn't move to Kansas for the facilities or the tradition. He came to play football -- and he came despite offers from Utah, BYU, Iowa State, Illinois and defending Big 12 champion Kansas State.

"Coach didn't say it as bluntly as he said it today, but he said there was plenty of available playing time," Sendish said. "He pretty much said, 'You can come here and contribute right away,' so people like me took that opportunity and ran with it."

They haven't stopped running yet. Weis has secured a commitment from 2014 four-star running back Traevohn Wrench, the No. 3 prospect in Kansas. He beat out K-State, Oklahoma State and Missouri for cornerback Andre Maloney, and he grabbed a commitment from linebacker Kyron Watson, who could have chosen Michigan, California, TCU or any number of schools.

Of course, the playing-time pitch isn't the entire selling point. The three Super Bowl rings Weis wears definitely don't hurt. He has other things in his arsenal, too. There's a counter for every negative thing another coach can say about his program. He has them prepared. They're as scripted as pro wrestling.

"I say, 'Look, I've got a great school here, great education, great academic support. I've got a great strength coach,'" Weis said. "'My trainer is topnotch. All the facilities are on par with everyone else. The only thing that needs to be done is that they need to do some work to the stadium, which is in the plans. Now, with all the background things I have in place, what are you looking for in college? If you're looking for all those things, I already have a good head start.'"

On Monday, Weis admitted that his run on junior college players wasn't a solid long-term plan. Instead, he called it a necessity. His main recruiting pitch falls into the same category.

Does he want to do it year after year? Absolutely not, but it sure seems to be working for now.

"Hopefully, before it's all said and done, before I end up leaving the place, that's not going to be the thing I'm saying, but it's what I'm saying right now," he said.



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