Last week, a video from Kansas' 6 a.m. practice made the rounds and drew a few snarky punchlines. New Kansas coach Charlie Weis was trying to teach his team how to celebrate, and their first effort drew a memorable rant from Weis about winning seeming like a foreign concept to the Jayhawks.
"My whole mentality is the fact that you have to come into a program that’s won two last year and didn’t win any in the conference, and try to get these guys heading in the right direction where that’s just not acceptable on either end," he said during this week's Big 12 coaches teleconference.
Weis is trying to be nice, but the truth is obvious: Turner Gill left him a mess at Kansas after winning just five games in two seasons. Last season's 2-10 campaign included six losses by at least 30 points.
"It’s always important to be respectful to people who were there before you, because you didn’t know all the circumstances that took place while you weren’t here," Weis said.
That said, he still knows his team has a lot of work ahead of it if it's going to be built back into a competitive program.
"There’s a lot of work that has to be done by everybody in the entire organization, including the coaches, but I think it’s important for these guys to know that this is not a finger-pointing situation," Weis said. "It’s ‘What are we going to do to fix it?’ You have to take the appropriate measures to try and move it in that direction."
Weis can hammer in a new mentality to his team all he wants, but this spring, he was confronted with the obvious physical shortcomings of his team, too.
"There are a couple positions here that were a lot deeper and richer than I would have known before I got here," Weis said. "Unfortunately, the holes that you knew of are big ones. You have to try to close those holes as much as you possibly can."
Weis plugged a big one almost immediately, offering a huge upgrade at quarterback by convincing Dayne Crist to spend his fifth year of college football at Kansas after completing his degree and transferring from Notre Dame. Receiver Justin McCay also signed on to come back home, after two seasons at Oklahoma.
The defensive line, though, has provided cause for concern through his first spring practices, which will conclude with the spring game on Saturday.
"There’s a reason why you’re ranked 120th in the country on defense," Weis said. "You’re going through spring, and you really don’t know how many guys practicing in the spring will even be in the two-deep when you play in the fall. That’s not a good thing."
The bright side for Weis is he'll be bringing in five more players on the defensive line this summer, and they will be competing for spots in fall camp.
"You’re playing with an offensive line that has three seniors and two juniors as you line up, and it creates a mismatch as you’re going through the spring," he said.
Weis was impressed with the receivers, and an experienced secondary he says caught a bad rap while it struggled in 2011.
"Although [the secondary] was exposed some last year, a lot of that exposure was due to the fact they need to get some bigger muchachos up front," he said.