JACKSONVILLE — As Florida's regular season began to grind to a conclusion with its offense among the worst in the nation, speculation about offensive coordinator Charlie Weis' job security grew.
But Weis has pulled a shocker.
After one season in Gainesville, Weis, 55, resigned to accept the job of head coach at Kansas. He will replace fired Turner Gill, who went 5-19 over two seasons.
Weis, unavailable for comment Thursday, was set to be introduced today. Kansas declined to disclose terms of his contract.
Florida coach Will Muschamp said Weis informed him of his decision Thursday afternoon and the two had had several conversations "in recent days" in which Weis had told him he wanted to pursue the position.
Running backs coach Brian White will be Florida's offensive coordinator for the Jan. 2 Gator Bowl against Ohio State. Muschamp said he will take his time in finding a replacement but plans to retain a pro-style offense.
"We're going to hire an outstanding coach," he said. "Hey, we're at the University of Florida. We're going to be able to go hire an outstanding football coach that's going to fit what I want done within our offense and within our system. And I'm going to … make sure we hire the right guy."
Muschamp, when asked, said former Florida quarterback and current Jacksonville coach Kerwin Bell would be considered. Major Applewhite, co-offensive coordinator at Texas, Muschamp's previous school, also likely will be a candidate.
When hired by Florida, where his son is a graduate assistant, Weis signed a three-year deal with a first-year base salary of $765,000. He was due to receive a $100,000 increase Feb. 1.
Before that, he worked about 40 miles from Kansas' campus in Lawrence as the NFL Chiefs' offensive coordinator. Weis also was a touted offensive coordinator for the NFL's Patriots.
Weis went 35-27 over five seasons in his only other head coaching job, at Notre Dame, then arrived in Gainesville with great expectations. But Florida's offense was 102nd overall among 120 Division I-A teams and 72nd in scoring.
Muschamp defended Weis' decision to abruptly leave.
"At the end of the day, when you get offered a head coaching job, I think it's very difficult to turn down. And I told Charlie that," Muschamp said. "I'm happy for him."
Armwood High senior running back Matt Jones, a Florida commitment and four-star recruit, said he hadn't heard Weis leaving but said, "He can do what he wants. I'm still a Gator."
Times staff writer Laura Keeley contributed to this report, which also includes information from Times wires.