The Weis legacy

Charlie Weis Jr. (center), 27, is one of the youngest coordinators in college football, with his coaching career starting when he was just 18 years old. Weis Jr. is carrying on the family legacy with USF football. USF ATHLETICS PHOTO

From watching his dad help coach the Patriots to a Super Bowl win to being an offensive assistant for Florida at age 18, Charlie Weis Jr. has pretty much seen it all.

But despite being born and bred in and around football, Weis received harsh advice from his father, Charlie Weis Sr., when he told him he wanted to follow in his dad’s footsteps.

“He really said that you’re an idiot if you decide to do it,” 27-year-old Weis Jr. said.

Weis Sr., an NFL and college football vet, was the head coach at Notre Dame from 2005 to 2009 and with the Kansas Jayhawks from 2012 to 2014. He also served as offensive coordinator for the New York Jets, New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs.

During Weis Sr.’s tenure as Florida’s offensive coordinator, Weis Jr. was hired as an offensive quality control coach at age 18.

Weis Jr. followed his father when he became head coach of the Jayhawks in 2012. After graduating from Kansas, Weis Jr. joined the Alabama coaching staff as an analyst in 2015.

 He then accepted a position as a tight ends coach in 2017 for Florida Atlantic. Shortly after, he was hired by the Atlanta Falcons as an offensive assistant. He was then named in 2018 the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Florida Atlantic where he stayed until moving to USF this summer.

Having so much experience at such a young age was a major factor in coach Jeff Scott’s decision to hire Weis Jr.

“That was part of the decision process with him, obviously being a younger coach,” Scott told Forbes. “The places he has been in a very short window in his career definitely added to his profile and experience.”

As young Charlie shadowed his father throughout his career, experiencing football games at such a young age was an experience like no other. 

Weis Jr.’s most vivid memory was Super Bowl XXXVI.

“We won our first Super Bowl with the New England Patriots in 2001 against the Rams,” he said. “I think I was like, maybe 8 or 9 years old. [I remember Weis Sr.] holding me up as they’re holding the Super Bowl trophy. I mean, seeing something like that as a young kid you’re like, ‘man!’”

Although coaching was always in the back of his mind, he didn’t make the decision to pursue it fully until he began college. Recognizing lasting relationships with players initially sparked his interest.

“Growing up with my dad and him being a coach it was always a certain thing that I thought I wanted to do, but I didn’t really decide to do it until my freshman year of college,” Weis Jr. said. “I went to the University of Florida and got to work there as a student assistant under my dad.

“Getting to do that, having the relationships with the players, getting to work with some of the freshmen there at the time, and then watching them have success on the field is what did it for me.”

Even though Weis Sr. wasn’t originally thrilled about the idea of his son following in his footsteps and becoming a coach, Weis Jr. said he still supported and encouraged him to continue working hard.

“What he told me is that there’s highs and lows,” Weis Jr. said. “We experienced Super Bowl victories and we experienced getting fired with him at two different places. No matter what, through the highs and lows, the most important thing is the relationships and the bonds that you create with the players over time.” 

The relationships between coaches and players are the ones Weis Jr. treasures most of all. After seeing the ones his father developed, he was inspired to do the same.

“When you get to work with players and take them as a freshman, you might have a kid who’s immature and doesn’t know exactly how to act,” he said. “For myself in that position and watching them grow, learn from their mistakes and just become better people and seeing them graduate, all those things are special to me.” 

After nine years in the business, he openly believes that coaching is more than just football. He is unveiling and leading players to find themselves and reach their full potential. 

“Taking a player that may have come from a tough situation, watching him go into a school, work his tail off and then see him graduate…That’s what’s rewarding to me. Watching a story like that happen is so much more than any football play I could call.”