In previous years, the annual KU Kickoff pep rally has followed a familiar format: various University of Kansas dignitaries address the crowd and whip it into an increasing state of frenzy culminating with a fiery speech from the football coach, who lobbies hard for big fan turnout at the games.
This year, the Alumni Association flipped that format on its head.
Coming off a 1-11 debut season, second-year head football coach Charlie Weis was the first speaker — not the last — at Friday’s event, and he delivered a characteristically candid assessment of the state of the program.
“I was disappointed,” he said of the team’s performance last year. Weis told the crowd that KU Athletic Director Sheahon Zenger had suggested the order for the night’s appearances based on the success, or lack thereof, of the programs. Women’s basketball coach Bonnie Herickson and women’s track coach Stanley Redwine both spoke after Weis.
Weis noted that Henrickson’s squad made it to the Sweet 16. “We certainly didn’t do that,” Weis said.
KU’s women’s track team won the 2013 national championship. “All [Redwine] did was win national coach of the year,” Weis said.
“I don’t want to go first next year,” Weis told the crowd, emploring them to show support for the program to make the team’s home game environment exciting.
Men’s basketball coach Bill Self, who had not been expected to speak as of Friday morning, ended the evening’s speeches before making what we can only assume was a totally spontaneous trip to Corinth’s Salty Iguana — the Mexican restaurant franchise to which he lends his voice on radio commercials.