Things are sure looking different in Lawrence these days. Back on November 26th, the Jayhawks were finishing their season with a tenth straight loss, this time to Missouri, 24-10. The discussion surrounding the program was whether or not Turner Gill deserved a third season to try and right the ship.
It's not even Christmas yet, and now Charlie Weis is the head coach and today the Jayhawks picked up two former five-star quarterbacks, Notre Dame's Dayne Crist and BYU's Jake Heaps, both of whom announced they were transferring to Kansas on Thursday.
Let's start with Crist who had been rumored to be coming to Lawrence ever since Weis was announced as the new head coach. He was recruited to South Bend by Weis and started 10 games during his time at Notre Dame and was 4-6 during those starts while completing 58% of his passes under Brian Kelly. It was Kelly who pulled the plug on Crist's starting job at halftime of the first game this season, prompting the transfer at season's end.
He is eligible to play immediately for the Jayhawks since he just graduated from Notre Dame and has a year of eligibility remaining.
This is the same situation that fell into Wisconsin's lap prior to this season when Russell Wilson came to Madison for just one year and led the Badgers to the Big Ten title and appearance in the Rose Bowl. Crist isn't near as accomplished as Wilson was, however, nor will have near the talent around him that Wilson enjoyed.
No one is expecting Crist to lead the Jayhawks to any kind of championships in one season (at least I hope not) but he should bring some stability to the team as it transitions to Weis' pro style offense. Crist - assuming Jordan Webb doesn't transfer and he's able to beat him out - already knows Weis' offense which will be a huge advantage as Weis transitions in his first season.
Kansas may have been 2-10 this past season, but there is some talent on offense for Crist and Weis to work with. They are loaded at running back with James Sims, Darrian Miller, and Tony Pierson. Sims was just a sophomore while Miller and Pierson were only freshmen.
They also return their top two receivers in D.J. Beshears and Kale Pick, although there's no doubt Weis will be looking to upgrade the talent at the position with this recruiting class. There are also some young freshmen wide outs that showed promise that should benefit from Weis' tutelage, as well.
What will Crist's addition mean in term of wins? It's hard to say because there are still huge holes to fill on defense making a dramatic jump in the win column a lot to ask in year one. But Crist's addition and knowledge of what Weis wants to do on offense certainly won't do anything to hurt the Jayhawks.
“When it came down to it, I’ve been talking to my family and praying about it a whole lot and doing everything I could possibly do to make the best possible decision,” Crist said. “The advice everyone has always given me is go with your gut. I think both Kansas and Wisconsin were great, great choices and have so many great things going for them.
“But at the end of the day, there’s not just one thing that sets you over the edge. It was more about just the right fit and the right feel and just trusting my heart.”
Nothing against Crist, who buy all accounts sound like a great kid, but the more intriguing news of the day to me was the reports that Jake Heaps will also be coming to Lawrence. He'll be the longer term solution as Weis tries to build the talent pool on the Jayhawks' roster.
He would have to sit out next season due to transfer rules which actually works out perfect since Crist will be on campus, as well. It'll also give him a season to learn Weis' systems and then he'll have two season of eligibility to put it to use
Heaps started 10 games for BYU his freshman season and then five more this year before losing his starting job. He completed 57% of his passes and threw 26 touchdowns and 17 interceptions during his two seasons of action.
Are either of these guys the answers for Kansas? All they are right now are big names that have had their share of struggles for one reason or another on the big stage. Maybe a fresh start at a new school will be what they need to reach the potential most believed they had coming out of high school.
For Kansas though, they both provide a glimmer of hope which is what the KU fan base had lost this past season. Kansas hired Weis to get people talking and bring some excitement back into the program and after only a couple weeks, they can put a check-mark next to that goal.