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Archive for Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Commentary: Self to OSU? Don’t make us laugh

Stillwater’s a fine place, but Kansas is one of the top five jobs in college basketball

February 20, 2008

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Bill Self's Kansas basketball machine comes to Stillwater on Saturday, and many an Oklahoma State fan hopes the next time Self appears at Gallagher-Iba Arena, he's coaching the home team.

Sean Sutton's future, despite two straight Cowboy victories, remains uncertain, and the idea still simmers that Boone Pickens' money could entice Self back to his alma mater.

Self calls it a "non-issue" and a "dead story" and won't dignify the issue with a comment. So I'll comment for him. No way is Self leaving Kansas for OSU.

It's Kansas. KU is a destination job. KU is a job you take to win NCAA championships and coach at the highest level.

Plenty of coaches have returned to their alma maters because of warm fuzzies and a desire to restore a tradition and, yes, money. But such odysseys almost always are taken by a coach on the back side of his career. Eddie Sutton to OSU. Bob Huggins to West Virginia. Jerry Tarkanian to Fresno State.

Coaches in their prime, coaches still hungry to scale the peak, coaches 45 years old and still seeking their first Final Four, do not move from Lawrence to Stillwater.

OSU is a fine basketball job. One of the top 20 or 25 in America. But Kansas is one of the top five. And the notion that Self might be getting antsy because of mounting Rock-Chalk pressure is just plain silly. Kansas hoops has high expectations. It also is the most stable job in American sport.

Self is the eighth coach in Kansas basketball history. Think about that. Eight coaches in the 110 years of KU basketball. UCLA has had eight just since John Wooden's retirement in 1975.

Kansas is a bastion of stability. Even Larry Brown, basketball's great vagabond, coached the Jayhawks five years, and this is a guy who coached two years at UCLA, one year with the Knickerbockers, two years with the Pistons, two years with the Nets and four years with the Spurs.

Kansas is a place that allows coaches to prosper. Self won't walk away from that, no matter what kind of money Pickens might offer. Some things, money can't buy, and an annual chance at the Final Four is one of those.

ESPN the Magazine reported that KU athletic director Lew Perkins said the Jayhawks "will not be T-Booned." That's not true, of course. Pickens wins all bidding wars.

But this is not about money. Self is paid handsomely to coach Kansas; he'll take all he can get, like most every other American, but not at the expense of torpedoing his championship chances. Not at this point in his career.

Yes, Self's family and in-laws still live in Oklahoma, but he's coaching in Kansas, not Alaska. And if Self really is all fired up to get back here sooner rather than later, there's a better chance he would sign on with the Oklahoma City Sonics, working for general manager Sam Presti, the protege of his old pal R.C. Buford.

Self in Stillwater? Maybe some day. In the far, distant future.

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