Getting to know T.J. Weist
For the second time in four seasons, veteran college assistant T.J. Weist has been granted a spontaneous audition for a collegiate head coaching gig.
Which is to say, he's taking over a program on an interim basis. Weist, the Bulls' first-year co-offensive coordinator and receivers coach, was tabbed by athletic director Mark Harlan to run the team through the Birmingham Bowl in the wake of Willie Taggart's departure for Oregon.
The 51-year-old Michigan native -- and University of Alabama alumnus -- may even be considered for the job permanently.
"I'm not gonna get into who the candidates (to replace Taggart) will be," Harlan said Wednesday. "I expect T.J. to do a fantastic job leading these young men into an opportunity to set the school records in wins against a great SEC opponent (South Carolina).
"He was very honored to be chosen to do that, and he's got great respect amongst the coaching staff and amongst the players, so I'm really looking forward to supporting him in all regards."
Most know Weist performed admirably -- maybe even over-achieving -- as Connecticut's interim coach in 2013, and he has played more than a bit part in helping USF's offense achieve unprecedented success this fall. But here are a few things you may not know:
* A married dad of three, Weist's two youngest kids -- twin girls -- arrived two springs ago after wife Karen's seventh attempt at in-vitro fertilization worked. The couple's son, James, who was 7 when he suddenly became an older brother, also was born via the in-vitro process. Check out this story on the Weist family from the Hartford Courant.
* Weist was a skinny receiver from Bay City, Mich., with no scholarship offers when he decided he wanted to play for Alabama. Raised by devout Notre Dame fans (his father attended the school), he enrolled at UA, walked on to the football team and ultimately earned a letter as a senior in 1987.
"I wanted to play for the best," said Weist, who would spend two years as a 'Bama graduate assistant.
* Weist's first game as UConn interim coach came against Taggart's first USF team. On a crisp, windy afternoon in East Hartford, Conn., Huskies TB Lyle McCombs gashed the Bulls for 164 yards on 20 carries, but the Bulls prevailed 13-10 on Marvin Kloss' 44-yard field goal with 4:03 to play.
"It was a hard game for us because we had not rushed the ball for 100 yards yet, against any defense," Weist recalled. "So we came in against South Florida and rushed the ball well, but we also threw the ball well, but we didn't well enough because in that game, we had about eight drops."
* The T.J. stands for Terry James (took some digging to get that one).