Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self's new book, "At Home in the Phog," chronicles Self's journey to Lawrence and the Jayhawks' road to - and immediate aftermath of - the 2008 national championship.
In this, the first of three excerpts from the book, Self describes how he landed a job with then-KU coach Larry Brown.
The book is available at the Journal-World (609 New Hampshire), online at ljworldstore.com, and at area stores like the KU Bookstore, Dillons, Borders and at ascendmediabooks.com.
On the third night of camp, inside the Lawrence High School gym, Self's coaching future suddenly was cast.
"I hurt my knee playing against some Kansas players," Self said. "The doctor who was there at that time told me he thought I tore my cartilage and I would probably require surgery. I stuck around until the end of camp. Every time coach Brown saw me, he would check to see how I was and would ask, 'How you doing?' The more he asked, the worse I limped."
When camp was over and everybody was going their separate ways, Self walked up to Brown.
Self: "Coach, this is a terrific place. I loved working here for you."
Brown: "Bill, I loved having you here. Sorry about your knee. If there's ever anything I can do for you, just let me know."
Self: "Coach, there is one thing."
Brown: "What's that?"
Self: "You can hire me as a graduate assistant next year."
Without any hesitation, Brown replied, "You're hired."
Self was stunned. He was stunned he had the gall to ask someone with Larry Brown's stature for a job, and even more stunned when Brown offered.
"I have no idea why I asked for a job," Self said. "At that time, I didn't even know for sure if I wanted to be a coach. I was working on my degree in business from OSU so I wouldn't have to coach. My dad had been a high school coach and had told me many times there were easier ways to make a living. I was hoping to go make some money in business and do some different things. But opportunity knocked right then. In a span of less than a minute, I went from being a business major to knowing I'm going to be a graduate assistant for Larry Brown at Kansas. Unbelievable."
On the drive from Stillwater to Lawrence, Self and (Barry) Hinson had primarily spoken about co-eds. On the trip from Lawrence back to Stillwater, the subject had changed.
Self told Hinson what happened with Brown.
"Our conversations were never deep, but our conversation on the way back that day certainly was," Hinson said. "It was covert. I couldn't say anything to anybody about Bill getting that job. I think he didn't want to jinx anything, plus he didn't want to throw it in anybody's face. Bill was pretty impressive with how he handled himself at camp.
"So in a span of one week, he got a job with Larry Brown and I went back to work at Stillwater Junior High for a salary of $12,300, plus an extra $900 if I coached football, basketball, and drove the bus."