Weis’s firing at Notre Dame was much more straightforward. After going 19-6 his first two seasons, he was 16-21 the next three years. Even though it cost Notre Dame millions to push Weis out the door, out he went at the end of a 6-6 season in 2009.
Three years later, both are back and both are struggling to rebuild downtrodden programs.
Weis is at Kansas, which had a nice run several years ago under Mark Mangino but went 5-19 during the two-year regime of Turner Gill. The Jayhawks are now 1-6 after being crushed, 52-7, by Oklahoma on Saturday and their only win was in the season opener against Football Championship Series member South Dakota State.
Leach is at Washington State, which was 9-40 the last four years under his predecessor, Paul Wulff. The Cougars are 2-5 and do have one win against a Football Bowl Series opponent — UNLV, which is 1-7.
“We’re just trying to make a first down every now and then,” Leach said jokingly last week.
Leach is a lot more apt to joke about something than Weis. He may get himself into trouble by saying outrageous things, but he’s a lot different than Weis in that he’ll stand behind what he said and there’s rarely any real malice. Weis takes himself very seriously — to put it mildly — and seems to think that bullying the media plays a key role in building a successful football program.
When he first arrived at Notre Dame he spent most of his first news conference lecturing the media on what would and would not be allowed under his watch. Anyone who did anything he did not approve of would quickly lose all access to the program. Any coach who is winning can pretty much say and do anything he wants to do. But when Weis started losing — including two losses in three years to Navy, a team Notre Dame had beaten 43 years in a row — he had absolutely no good will to fall back on.
Apparently that experience didn’t change him very much. A couple of weeks ago, a reporter from the Kansas student newspaper was called into a meeting with two members of the Kansas athletic staff and told that if he asked questions in Weis’s news conference that day they could not guarantee how Weis would respond but it might not be friendly. Apparently Weis was upset about a disparaging cartoon that appeared in the student paper about his team.
Oh gosh, we can’t have that, especially when the genius coach has produced one victory.
The pick-on-the-kid reporter story came out at about the same time that Weis was quoted by a number of local media members as saying he didn’t plan to allow his 20 seniors to practice with the team on Sundays anymore. While the rest of the team practiced, the seniors were told to lift weights and run on their own.