In Charlie Weis, fans of the Kansas football program see hope.
And the second-year coach embraces the role with one stipulation: He doesn’t want the faith the be blind.
So when close to 150 Jayhawk-clad supporters filled the Wichita Marriott banquet hall for Thursday’s luncheon in conjunction with the 2013 Kansas Football Preview Party, Weis made his mission clear.
While it is exciting to see how many fans are energized about the future, the team must do its part by delivering results.
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“We’re still coming off a 1-11 season,” Weis told reporters before the event. “You can try to spin it however you want. There were a half-dozen games you had a chance to win, you didn’t. So until you give the fan base evidence you can win more games, they’re just going to be hoping, not counting on it.”
Weis was joined by KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger at the podium while attendees listened over lunch. Current position battles, the incoming recruiting class that features nearly 20 junior college transfers and the future of the program were the staples of the conversation.
“When you go through reclamation projects, usually the biggest change is between Year 1 and Year 2,” Weis said, “because the first thing you have to do is gut the program when you go in. You might have to take a few steps back before you take a step forward.”
Fans believe the prospect of that step forward outweighs the two steps back suffered in last season’s one-win campaign.
Weis excited the crowd with reports that quarterback Jake Heaps will immediately upgrade the passing game and junior-college transfers Chris Martin, on the defensive line, and Cassius Sendish, in the secondary, will be instant impact players.
“Coach Weis does a great job of getting people pumped up for football season,” said Chris Jeter, one of the many in business attire with a Jayhawk sticker on his shirt. “I think the program is going in the right direction. I think he’s definitely the right guy for the job. He has the football knowledge and he has the staff to make it happen.”
After traveling around to cities like Denver, Dallas and St. Louis, Zenger said it was important not only to return to the Sunflower State, but to Wichita specifically.
“I don’t think people realize just how important Wichita is to us in the Jayhawk Nation,” Zenger said. “Every time we come down here, it’s such a great place to be and we find such tremendous support.”
In a room buzzing with anticipation, Weis remained KU’s biggest critic.
It’s nice to celebrate in May, but it’s even better to celebrate in November.
“I think we fixed a lot of the problems,” Weis said. “But at the end of the day, it’s about winning football games and that’s what we need to do.”