It didn’t take long for the knives to come out. Less than 24 hours after Kansas announced it had hired Charlie Weis, the ex-Gator offensive coordinator is being skewered for his one year of less than stellar work in Gainesville.
Mike Bianchi of The Orlando Sentinel writes:
“Charlie Weis leaving the Florida Gators is the best news UF fans have had since Charlie Weis came to the Florida Gators. Merry Christmas, Gators.”
Meanwhile, Pat Dooley of The Gainesville Sun was more harsh. Check out this excerpt from his latest column:
But Weis using Florida as a springboard will be greeted today with a collective, ‘Whatever.’
There are a lot of you out there wondering if this is good news or bad news. Florida used Weis and his connection to the NFL as a lure to land recruits. That’s gone. On the other hand, Gators fans don’t have to watch the dumpster fire that was Florida’s offense this year.”
The assumption seems to be that Weis was to blame for trying to run a pro-style offense without pro-style personnel. Fair enough, if that was his call and not Will Muschamp’s. Also, it appears that Bianchi and Dooley and numerous UF fans on messageboards are certain of the fact that Weis’ offense would be no better in the future. Apparently what we saw in Year One was a solid enough sample to conclude that Weis would always fail in Gainesville.
But there’s a problem with judging someone on one year’s worth of work and I can use a current rumor to help reveal it. During the 2010 football season, one of the questions we at MrSEC.com were emailed most often came from irate Tennessee fans. The basic gist was as follows: “Where did Derek Dooley find this clown, Justin Wilcox!” Toss in an obscenity here and there and you’ll get the general feel.
Fast forward to this week — with Wilcox now a rumored candidate for the head coaching job at Arizona State — and the fan response from the Volunteer State has changed. Now there’s worry that the man who put together a Top 30 defense with little experience and little depth might leave Knoxville.
Funny how things change.
Todd Grantham of Georgia is another example. The Bulldogs made strides defensively in 2010, but not enough to prevent a losing season and thousands of calls for the entire coaching staff to be scrapped. Fast forward a year and Dawg fans seem to be as concerned about getting Grantham an extension as they are Mark Richt.
In many cases, it’s the second year that provides the bounce for new offensive and defensive systems. The first year is about learning the terminology and developing a sense of what to do next instinctively, without having to think too much. In the second year of a system, players tend to do more playing and less thinking. And that’s a good thing.
So this idea that Florida will be better off on offense in 2012 simply because Weis is gone? Well, that might just be wishful thinking.
The Sunshine State media is already strongly pushing ex-Gator and current Jacksonville head coach Kerwin Bell for the offensive coordinator position. Former Muschamp co-workers Al Borges and Major Applewhite are also getting some mentions.
Whoever is hired, he’ll still have to implement his system and his terminology. Players — many of them young — will be asked to learn new concepts all over again. From Auburn’s Tony Franklin to Tennessee’s Dave Clawson to Ole Miss’ David Lee to Florida’s Weis, first years can be awfully rough on coordinators. Second years tend to be better.
Because he skedaddled so quickly — in spite of a lot of talk suggesting he had no interest in doing so — we’ll never know how Weis’ second season might have turned out. And for that reason, anyone celebrating his departure at this point might be jumping the proverbial gun. Who says next season will be better just because a new coordinator is coming in?
Florida fans and columnists shouldn’t have to be reminded of that. It was less than a year ago that they believed anyone would be a big improvement over Steve Addazio.