Charlie Weis’ decision making reeks of desperation. The head football coach for the Kansas Jayhawks made an awful personnel decision this last Saturday against the Oklahoma Sooners when he pulled the redshirt off freshman quarterback Montell Cozart.
The Jayhawks are 2-4 this season, and in the midst of a 24-game losing streak in Big 12 Conference play. That streak covers parts of 4 season, going back to 2010. It is the worst such streak in the school’s long football history.
There are not many wins left on the Jayhawks’ schedule this season. Really, only Iowa State game really looks winnable but even that contest will take place in Ames, Iowa, so it is not even a 50/50 proposition.
For Weis to pull the redshirt off Cozart half way through a season where Kansas will be lucky to win one more game, is flat out idiotic, in my opinion.
There are only 3 real reasons to pull a redshirt this deep into a season.
- Injuries: Sometimes, injuries can decimate a team at a specific position and a redshirt may need to be pulled to help the team fill a specific hole. Jake Heaps and Michael Cummings do not seem to be in bad health, so that isn’t the case here.
- Competing For Something Bigger: Whether it is for a championship, or for even a bowl bid, if a team is close to reaching one of theses goals, and a redshirt player will push them over the top, then it could be considered. If that is the case, though, you would wonder why that player wasn’t playing in the first place. Still, sometimes a sacrifice has to be made for the good of the team if it helps the team accomplish something positive. This is obviously not the case now for Kansas.
- The Redshirted Athlete Really Isn’t That Good Anyway: If a coach feels like a certain player can help immediately, and it won’t hurt the team long term because that player doesn’t look like he will be a great player down the road, then maybe he would be justified pulling a redshirt this late in a losing season. This is a judgement call and a coach can only hope he is right. Still, it is kind of a selfish thing to do. We don’t know yet, but let’s hope this isn’t the case here with Cozart.
To me, this decision is a desperate one. It tells me Charlie Weis has no intention of being here in 2017 when Montell Cozart should be a 5th year senior. It looks like a move by a coach who is trying to convince everyone that he is trying to find a solution, regardless of the cost to the future. He doesn’t care the season is already lost, and this move is meaningless.
Let’s talk about the timing of Cozart’s debut. Kansas had just played a very effective first quarter with Jake Heaps at the helm. The Jayhawks had marched down field twice against conference big boy, the Oklahoma Sooners. Up until a few seconds previous to Cozart entering the game, Kansas had a 13-0 nothing lead in the ball game.
The Sooners had just scored, and the Jayhawks were rather deep in their own territory. Up to that point, Kansas had enjoyed some of their most gratifying offensive success of the season. The Sooners were so caught off guard by how easily the Jayhawks were moving the ball that three of their coaches were arguing heatedly on the sidelines after the second touchdown by the home team.
Why, oh why, mess with that offensive momentum at that particular time?
The wheels promptly fell off. On the first play with Cozart in the game, he handed off to James Sims, who broke off a nice 15-yard gain. The play was called back due to holding. The next three plays were disasters for Kansas, racking up negative yardage. Cozart looked terribly uncomfortable with his back pressed up against the goal line.
The offense went backward and the Sooners blocked the ensuing punt. Trevor Pardula ended up kicking the ball a second time as he booted it out of the back of the end zone for a safety, preventing a Sooner touchdown.
The Kansas offense never recovered.
Later, Weis was quick to point out the holding call set up this tailspin. That’s all fine and dandy. No one knows if that same play would have been called if Heaps was in the game (probably not since it looked like a read option), so there is no way to know if the hold ever would have occurred.
Regardless, Cozart should not have been put into the 6th game of the season, that deep in enemy territory, after Kansas had moved the ball so well earlier with Heaps at quarterback, in a year when the Jayhawks may not win another game.
Montell Cozart, regardless if how good he might be, isn’t going to make this a bowl team over the next few weeks. He isn’t going to turn this team into an offensive juggernaut. Heck, we don’t even know if he can throw the ball because he was never even given the chance to try. It was an idiotic, selfish move by Weis to pull the redshirt.
Weis came into Kansas with somewhat of a reputation as a quarterback guru based on the fact he won championships in the NFL with Tom Brady, and that for one season, he turned Matt Cassel in to a Pro Bowl quarterback.
Well, he has done nothing but fail with quarterbacks so far at Kansas. Dayne Crist was a disaster last season. Jake Heaps hasn’t been much better this season (although it is hard to tell sometimes with Heaps because his line can’t pass block and his receivers can’t catch). Michael Cummings obviously isn’t the answer.
So, Weis is telling us Montell Cozart is the answer? Even if this were true, and Cozart is the next great quarterback in the Big 12 Conference, why debut him now, in a lost season, and waste a year of eligibility? Why, why, why?
I thought the hiring of Charlie Weis was a home run for Kansas at the time. His teams HAVE played more competitively than those of Turner Gill. We all know rebuilding a college football team in a conference like the Big 12 is really difficult.
I have always believed that college coaches, unless they are so obviously horrible at their jobs, like Turner Gill was, should be given 4-5 years to turn a program around.
Charlie Weis is challenging that personal belief for me right now. The problem is, Kansas can’t fire him. With the past disasters of dismissing the past 2 head coaches and the last athletic director, they can’t fire Weis. They have to see this play out.
They almost have to hope Weis resigns on his own accord to take a position elsewhere. The question is, who would take him? At this point in his career, no one. So, Kansas is stuck and they are hoping he can recruit enough players to get the program going the right direction. He HAS improved the level of talent at Kansas, and Jayhawk fans must hope he continues to do.
His decision making concerning Montell Cozart does not leave me feeling hopeful.