Our Eastern Division coaching spotlight opens with Florida.
Coach: Charlie Weis
Position: Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks
Experience: He's entering his first season on the Florida staff. Weis, 55, was the offensive coordinator with the Kansas City Chiefs last season after spending five seasons as Notre Dame's head coach. He was fired at Notre Dame following the 2009 season after posting a 35-27 record. The Irish went to back-to-back BCS bowl games during Weis' first two seasons in South Bend, but were just 16-21 in his final three seasons -- the most losses by the Irish in a three-year span. From 1990-2004, Weis was an assistant in the NFL. He was the New England Patriots' offensive coordinator from 2000-2004 and won three Super Bowls with the Patriots. He was also the New York Jets' offensive coordinator in 1998-99. Weis has coached in five Super Bowls and owns four Super Bowl rings. Other than his stint as Notre Dame's head coach, Weis' only other previous college experience was at South Carolina from 1985-88 as a graduate assistant and assistant recruiting coordinator under the late Joe Morrison.
Of note: Weis cut his teeth in the NFL ranks under Bill Parcells and worked on Parcells' staff at three different stops -- the New York Giants, New England Patriots and New York Jets. ... Weis coached both Tom Brady and Drew Bledsoe during his second stint with the Patriots and was instrumental in the development of Brady, who came to the Patriots as a sixth-round draft choice in 2000. ... Weis signed a three-year, $2.62 million contract with the Gators, making him the highest-paid assistant coach in Florida history. He will earn $765,000 this first season and then $865,000 each of the next two seasons. He also received a $100,000 signing bonus. ... Weis was paid more than $6.6 million last year to begin his buyout from Notre Dame, and he'll continue to be paid smaller amounts through 2015, according to federal tax documents. ... In 2003, Weis and his wife, Maura, created the Hannah & Friends Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for children and adults with special needs. ... Weis graduated from Notre Dame in 1978, but didn't play college football.
His challenge: Weis, widely regarded as one of the top offensive minds in football, brings his pro-style offense to Gainesville and hopes to revive an offense that went belly-up a season ago. The Gators finished 10th in the SEC in total offense and were 11th in pass efficiency. In 13 games, they threw just 12 touchdown passes and had 12 interceptions. Weis has worked with his share of successful quarterbacks. The obvious one is Brady with the Patriots, but Brady Quinn and Jimmy Clausen also put up big numbers at Notre Dame under Weis. Getting senior quarterback John Brantley turned around after a nightmarish season a year ago is at the top of Weis' to-do list. Brantley, never a fit in Urban Meyer's spread offense, looked a lot more comfortable in Weis' pro-style system in the spring, and the Gators made some plays down the field. They made very few explosive plays in the passing game last season. Brantley's development will be a key this fall for the Gators, but equally important will be identifying receivers who can consistently make plays down the field. Even though Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps are hardly bruisers, Weis is confident Florida will be able to effectively run the ball with the two senior speedsters getting most of the work. It remains to be seen who will get the tough yards this season for the Gators in the running game.