KANSAS CITY, Mo. — His team may be crap, but the numbers aren’t. According to the Web site Topsy.com, which tracks reputable Twitter trends for free, as of midday, the words “Charlie Weis” had received 746 original mentions Monday.
The words “Charlie Sheen” had 649.
The Irish playwright Brendan Behan wasn’t thinking of Kansas’ second-year football coach when he said this, but it applies: “There is no such thing as bad publicity, except your own obituary.”
The point is not whether Weis went off the rails when he stepped in front of the microphone in Dallas and referred to his 1-11 Jayhawks of 2012 as a “pile of crap.”
He did. And they were.
No, the point is that the man made you look.
Whether you laughed or groaned or put your head in your hands, America, for a brief instant, was actually thinking about Kansas football again. Who says Weis isn’t a genius?
Whatever you think of the guy as a football coach — the general consensus, based on the dumpster fire he left at Notre Dame, being “not much” — you have to admit: Weis plays the Fourth Estate the way Charlie Daniels plays the fiddle. When it was all said and done, Weis won 2013 Big 12 Football Media Days by about three lengths. This is significant, considering that it might very well be the last Big 12 football victory of any kind the Jayhawks pick up the rest of the year.
“Yeah, Coach is right,” Jayhawks running back James Sims, one of the less crappy parts of the roster, told reporters in Dallas. “We need to work harder.”
“That’s what we love as players; we love how candid he is,” quarterback Jake Heaps told the Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World. “We know exactly where we stand with him. We don’t have to worry about him sugarcoating it and him playing mind games with us. It’s all about honesty. And it pushes you to get better. At least you know where you stand.”
As a sound bite, yes, it was a dumb thing to say. Taken in context — Weis had praised the university and its facilities before launching into his epic sandbagging rant — it was still probably a dumb thing to say.
Dumb, but honest. The Jayhawks ranked among the bottom 20 schools in the Football Bowl Subdivision in passing offense (113th), scoring offense (115th), pass efficiency defense (116th), total defense (113th), scoring defense (109th), pass defense (114th), passing efficiency (120th) and sacks (116th). In hindsight, “crap” might be kind. Weis’ first team was to organized football what William Hung was to opera.
When you’re rebuilding, bad is expected. Bad is part of the deal. What you don’t want is to be bad and buried. The Jayhawks’ last three home games in 2012 drew an average of 37,607 patrons to Memorial Stadium, or roughly 75.1 percent of capacity (50,071). That was a 9.7 percent drop from the last three tilts on Mount Oread in 2011, which brought in an average of 41,642.
Winning, in the long run, figures to cure many of those ills. But winning — winning consistently — is still probably some ways off in Lawrence, despite a recruiting haul in February that featured a stunning influx of 18 junior college transfers out of a group of 26.
Charlie knows this. So Charlie tells it like it is, and we chuckle right along. But if the Jayhawks aren’t bowling — or sniffing .500, at the worst — by Year Four, the locals won’t be so easily amused.
But, hey, if you’re going to stink up the joint, at least be interesting in the process. More fun with Topsy: On July 12, as of 1:30 in the afternoon, the terms “Kansas, football” had received 29 notable mentions on Twitter. On July 22 at 1:30, it was 462. Enter “Kansas, football” into Google.com and 216,000 different news articles appear. Type in “Kansas, Charlie Weis,” and roughly 355,000 results pop up. Type in “Kansas, pile of crap,” and it’s 668,000 results.
OK, so maybe that last part wasn’t exactly what he had in mind.
But look: People are talking Kansas football. In July. Of course, the hard part for Weis is getting them to talk about it in November, too.
You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter @seankeeler or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.