LAWRENCE — Perhaps it’s overly harsh to say that Kansas coach Charlie Weis fired himself as the program’s offensive coordinator after the Jayhawks’ 3-9 finish this past season.
But that’s the way Weis phrased it Thursday when he spoke to reporters at a news conference to review his second season at KU.
“They fired me as offensive coordinator,” Weis said with a laugh. “How do you like that? I wasn’t very happy with the offensive coordinator, so I made a change there.”
Weis said these words with his usual mix of candor and sarcasm, but his decision to hire Rice offensive coordinator John Reagan to take over the KU offense figures to be one of the leading story lines of the Jayhawks’ offseason. And Weis is making one thing clear: After two years of ineffective offense at Kansas, he’s turning over the reins to Reagan — his schemes, his way.
“As we were making changes on offense, one of the things we needed to do was have somebody that could be the lead person on offense, and not be me,” Weis said. “And for those people who think I hired somebody to just be my manager, that’s not what I’m doing. I think that I’ll do a much better job being a head coach with a guy like John being the coordinator.”
At some point this fall, Weis realized KU needed some help. He zeroed in on Reagan, a coach with KU ties who had helped Rice defeat Kansas twice during the past two seasons.
“I might have been the only one in Lawrence looking for the pay-per-view of Rice games,” Weis said.
Reagan, a former offensive line coach under Mark Mangino, replaces departed offensive line coach Tim Grunhard, who left to spend more time with four high school-age children. In his last season at Rice, Reagan used a spread scheme that relied on a zone-read rushing attack. The Owls averaged 31.4 points while ranking 16th in the country with 240.2 rushing yards per game.
Weis says Reagan will utilize some of the terminology from Weis’ offense to make the transition smoother, but Weis was also clear about this: He won’t even be in the offensive meeting room this coming season.
“If I’m there, who are they going to listen to?” Weis said. “Are they going to listen to me or are they going to listen to him?”
Once Reagan digs in, his chief priority will be finding a quarterback. Unlike the past two seasons, when the Jayhawks had clear-cut No. 1 options in transfers Dayne Crist and Jake Heaps, KU will enter the offseason with a little intrigue on the quarterback depth chart. Freshman Montell Cozart, the most mobile quarterback on the roster, returns after replacing Heaps midway through last season. And Heaps will be back for his senior season after completing 49 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions last season. Heaps and Cozart were both handcuffed by 47 dropped passes, a number Weis cited Thursday.
Then there’s UCLA transfer T.J. Millweard, who will be a sophomore next season after sitting out this past season.
“He’ll be an interesting candidate,” Weis said. “Because not a lot of people know a lot about him, but this kid’s pretty good. I don’t think T.J. is going home just to be satisfied coming back here being third, fourth or fifth (on the depth chart).”
In the end, Weis says, the quarterback decision will fall to Reagan. But Weis says he expects it to be settled by the end of spring practice. And when asked if he had one candidate in mind at the moment, Weis didn’t hesitate.
“Yep, I do,” Weis said. “But it’ll stay right there and we’ll see how it plays out.”