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Charlie Weis has two goals: Lose weight, regain rep

Kansas coach Charlie Weis talks with referee before an NCAA college football spring game Lawrence Kan. Saturday April 12 2014.

Kansas coach Charlie Weis talks with a referee before an NCAA college football spring game in Lawrence, Kan., Saturday, April 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner) ORG XMIT: KSOW101

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Updated: July 22, 2014 10:59PM



DALLAS — Charlie Weis is saving his own life again. A 58-year-old man whose weight-related physical trials are well-known, Weis’ latest battle against his diet-and-exercise demons has been raging for nearly six months.

The controversial former Notre Dame coach, now preparing for his third season at the helm of the Kansas Jayhawks, admitted to wife Maura in February that he was “scared to death” by how he was feeling. Then and there, he pledged to her that he would lose 100 pounds.

“I was breaking some scales in February,” he said from his podium at Big 12 media days. “They were shattering. Now they’re just shaking — they’re not shattering.”

It was a great line nearly wasted on an audience of reporters who could be counted on one hand. As media clogged the personal spaces of the conference’s vastly more successful coaches, asking them about team goals as big as reaching the first College Football Playoff, Weis spoke quietly of his health, his job status and his reputation.

Frankly, none of them is all that great.

But Weis, who spends 45 minutes on a recumbent bicycle five or six days a week, looks much better than he did during the 2013 season — and almost shockingly better than he did three winters ago in his office at KU, shortly after he’d taken the job. Then, he opened up about two knee replacements, a hip replacement and years of physical torment that had contributed to his surliness and, indeed, his gloominess.

Now?

“I’m great,” he said. “This is the best I’ve felt in a long time. I’m serious. I have more energy than I’ve had in a long time. And I have no pain.”

The career stuff isn’t as pleasant. Weis lasted five seasons at Notre Dame before he was fired, four days after Thanksgiving in 2009, on the heels of the worst three-year stretch in Irish history. Since then, he has knocked around as offensive coordinator with the Kansas City Chiefs and the Florida Gators and been knocked around as the head guy at KU.

After two seasons in Lawrence, Weis’ record is 4-20. Another go-round like the first two, and Weis will have the worst three-year stretch in Jayhawks history, too. In that scenario, it’s likely he’d find himself looking for his next gig.

Not that it matters what a bunch of stinkin’ reporters think, but it isn’t very hard to guess where the Jayhawks ranked in the Big 12 media preseason poll. In a 10-team league, they were a distant 10th.

A lot of Notre Dame fans will chuckle at that. You know who you are.

Even Weis has a sense of humor about the direction his career has gone since his early days on the job at his alma mater in South Bend, when his confidence was far more outsized than his physique.

“You’re never happy when you’re a coach,” he said.

“I don’t know of a coach I’ve ever met who’s happy. Even when you win, you’re not happy.”

Weis has three years left on his contract. He admits he’d love to be at Kansas for a couple of seasons after that. It isn’t the moon he wants, just what he sees as an honest shot to turn a program — and a career — around.

“I’d like to enjoy some of the success,” he said. “What do you think, I want to do all the grunt work and just hand it off?”

And what about those 100 pounds? According to Weis, he already has “a good part knocked out.”

He won’t get more specific with the numbers, nor will he share how many wins he believes can be squeezed from the Jayhawks in 2014. But on both counts, at least, he’s still in the fight. It’s a hell of a lot better than the alternative.

Email: sgreenberg@suntimes.com

Twitter: @SLGreenberg



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