When Missouri left the Big 12 Conference for the SEC this year, it took with it a bitter rivalry with Kansas. Likewise, West Virginia’s departure from the Big East concluded its longstanding rivalry with Pitt. Maybe missing that sense of fierce competition at season’s end prompted Mountaineer head coach Dana Holgorsen to spark some new rivalry with Week 14 opponent Kansas.
West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen just said his team would be at a “schematic disadvantage” this week vs #KUfball & he wasn’t making a joke
— Matt Tait (@mctait) November 26, 2012
West Virginia and Kansas certainly don’t share a border, but those were fighting words worthy of each program’s past border skirmishes.
Holgorsen’s “schematic disadvantage” comment is a callback to current Kansas head coach Charlie Weis’ arrogant assertion he would provide Notre Dame a “decided schematic advantage.” Such an advantage resulted in the Fighting Irish going 16-21 in Weis’ final three seasons, missing the postseason twice and peaking with a Hawai’i Bowl win.
After brief offensive coordinator stints at Florida and with the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs, Weis was Kansas’s surprise hire to replace Turner Gill last December. Gill was fired after just two seasons and a 5-19 overall record. His worst season was a 2-10 finish in 2011; a loss to West Virginia on Saturday would close out the first Weis-coached KU team at 1-11.
In defense of Weis, KU has been more competitive this season than it was last. The Jayhawks have suffered four single digit losses, all to bowl bound opponents: Texas, Texas Tech, Northern Illinois and Oklahoma State. Still, Weis’ first season in Lawrence has not been without controversy. Punctuating struggles on the field was a public spat with the student newspaper after it predicted top 10 ranked Kansas State would beat the Jayhawks. K-State won, 56-16.
He since extended the commendable gesture of paying for blocks of tickets to the Jayhawks’ Senior Day game vs. Iowa State. Weis has also gotten the most out of running back James Sims, who enters this final game 44 yards shy of 1000 with eight touchdowns.
Against West Virginia, Kansas will need a decided schematic advantage on the defensive end. Despite recently slumping, the Mountaineers are still scoring 40 points per game behind the explosive trio of Geno Smith, Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin. Even with Sims’ production, KU has no hope of keeping pace with the Mountaineers in a shootout.
The Jayhawks’ close calls were typically low scoring; Texas Tech scored 41, albeit in two overtimes. NIU, Texas and Oklahoma State were all head well below their season averages.
Weis’ decided schematic advantage had better reflect on the defensive end, or the Jayhawks are headed for an 11th straight loss.