With the Steve Addazio nightmare finally over, the task of rebuilding the side of the ball that’s not called defense (can we really even call what we had in 2010 an “offense”?) now falls into the hands of one of Will Muschamp’s first hires, Charlie Weis.
I’ll get right to the point here, the hiring of Charlie Weis is a huge coup. A successful NFL offensive coordinator coming off a great season and taking a college job that’s not a head coaching position? I don’t think many people dreamed that would happen.
Sure, the Notre Dame fiasco is the freshest thing in most people’s minds when the name ‘Charlie Weis’ comes up, but some people just make great coordinators and not great coaches. Josh McDaniels is one of those guys, Mike Martz is one of those guys, Romeo Crennel is one of those guys, and yes, Charlie Weis is one of those guys.
When Florida lost (got rid of) Steve Addazio, we lost one thing. Recruiting. For as much as Addazio sucked at everything a person can possibly suck at, he was still a good recruiter. How he convinced those kids to come play in his wretched offense is beyond me, but somehow he did. Charlie Weis brings that same recruiting panache with him, without the part about sucking at everything else. For all the struggles he had at Notre Dame, his teams there were good at two things, scoring points and bringing in top recruits. Those two things will be his only jobs at Florida.
So let’s look back at the career of Charlie Weis.
He entered the NFL in 1990 and spent his first seven years as various types of assistant coaches (running backs coach, tight ends coach, wide receivers coach, etc). After spending 1996 as the wide receivers coach for the New England Patriots’ explosive offense, he was given his first gig as an offensive coordinator in 1997 with the New York Jets. That Jets offense actually took a step back in ’97 from where they were in ’96 (mediocre), but in ’98, in Weis’ second year, they finished 4th in the league in offense. You may remember 1998 as the last good season of Vinny Testeverde’s career, one year after he was cut by Baltimore.
In 1999, Testeverde got injured early on and the Jets offense took a big step backwards with Rick Mirer and Ray Lucas leading the charge. New England had seen enough though, and hired Weis to be their new offensive coordinator in 2000.
New England’s offensive stats are not as good in the early 2000’s as people remember. They put up a lot of points, but not a ton of yards. A big part of that was the strength of their defense, which led to the Pats nursing a lot of leads. Of course, the big thing everyone will remember from that era is the decision to go with Tom Brady as their starting quarterback, and many super bowl victories to follow.
By 2005, the Patriots were rolling along with Brady and Weis and a top 5 offense, when the Notre Dame job became available. Weis took over a team that had finished 82nd in the country in total offense in 2004, and led them to a 10th place finish in his first year in 2005. 2006 was similar, as many of you will recall the media believing ND to be a national championship contender during those years, but their defense was just too bad. In 2007, Brady Quinn had graduated and the nation’s top recruit Jimmy Clausen got the start for Notre Dame in what proved to be a horrible year, offensively as well as defensively. Notre Dame’s offense didn’t come back until 2009, Clausen’s junior year, when they again finished in the nation’s top 10.
Finally, Weis was fired from Notre Dame after the 2009 season where a top 10 offense paired with a horrible defense led to a 6-6 finish. He took over the Chiefs job in 2010. The Chiefs had finished 2009 with the league’s 25th ranked offense, made no major personnel changes in 2010, and ended up finishing 12th in Weis’ first year there, vastly improving as the season went on.
So what conclusions can we draw about Charlie Weis? For starters, he is not the type of guy who has finished with a top 5 offense at every stop along the way. In fact, his offenses, statistically, have rarely finished in that threshold. On the flipside, in every case, his teams have all shown a drastic offensive improvement within two years of his arrival, in more cases than is just pure coincidence. With Florida, and following up Steve Addazio, that will be no tall order as a band of merry monkeys could probably coach this offense to a significant improvement within the next two years.
What we have in Charlie Weis is a guy who has been successful at running pro style offenses, and is a good recruiter. What more could we have asked for with this hire? That’s a serious question, for the people that are disappointed with Weis, who would you have rather had? Sure, a guy like Steve Spurrier or Gus Mahlzan would have been great, but I’m looking for reasonable answers here as obviously Spurrier is not going to take an OC position and Mahlzan probably won’t move until he gets a head coaching gig. I know a lot of Gators wanted Kerwin Bell, and while I would have liked to see what he could do as well that was before I ever dreamed that a guy like Wess would take a college OC job. And were his son not soon to be enrolled at Florida, he likely wouldn’t have.
Will Muschamp will have our defense ready to go within two years, as he has everywhere he’s been. Charlie Weis should do the same for the offense. The coaching staff is really shaping up, and the major question left for Florida next year is whether John Brantley sucked because he played for Addazio, or whether he sucked and also played for Addazio. That’s something we’ll be exploring here soon.
As for Dan Quinn, the new defensive coordinator hire, all you really need to know there is that he has a history with Muschamp and will likely be there to run the day to day things with the defense. Let’s make no mistake about it here, Muschamp loves defense and he is our real defensive coordinator.