Kansas University’s eighth-year basketball coach and first-year football coach exited Memorial Stadium together Monday night after speaking to several thousand KU freshmen and transfers on hand for Traditions Night.
As they headed to a southwest exit, Bill Self and Turner Gill marveled at the size and clarity of KU’s new videoboard and discussed the relative good health of Gill’s inaugural Jayhawk team and enthusiasm for the 2010 campaign, which opens with a 6 p.m. home game Sept. 4 against North Dakota State.
“Bill and I ... obviously we are buddies, we are colleagues, and we know we represent the greatest university in the United States of America, the University of Kansas,” Gill said, revving up an already-enthusiastic crowd.
Gill asked the new KU students for their support.
“We want to hear your excitement. We want to hear your energy. We want to hear your enthusiasm at the beginning of the game and the middle of the game and also at the end of the game,” Gill said to loud applause — most of these future fans unaware that students left in droves at halftime of games during the 2009 season.
In a video, senior defensive end Jake Laptad asked the fans to take part in a “new tradition” on kickoffs.
The student fans have yelled a vulgar cheer from the movie “The Waterboy” in the past.
“On kickoffs in Memorial Stadium this fall, let’s show the world why KU has the best fans and traditions of any college campus in the nation,” Laptad said on the big screen. “Let’s greet every kickoff this fall with the most recognizable college chant in the world. We are asking all fans in Memorial Stadium to join us during kickoffs in chanting, ‘Rock Chalk Jayhawk, KU.’”
Go to class: Self challenged the first-year students.
“Unfortunately some of you that are here tonight may not be here at this time next year,” he said, aware many freshmen flunk out, “but I will tell you this. There is a direct correlation between going to class and making good grades. Get your butts to class, all right? You’ll make better grades. Look out for each other. You should buddy up. You should be smart. Take care of each other. All right?”
Good team: One student yelled, “Bill you’re the man!’’ as Self headed to his car. Self has the chance to be a mighty popular coach again this season.
“I think we have a chance to be really good, but it’s too early. We’ve not had a chance to start working out yet,” said Self, who will begin individual drills with players Monday. Players — who worked in the weight room while in town in July for summer school — will resume lifting weights with the start of classes Thursday.
“I’m excited for football season, and I’m just excited to feel the energy back in town. I think this will be a fun year for us, selfishly. I think we’ve got a lot to look forward to from a basketball standpoint.”
Selby talk: Self said there’s no update on the eligibility of freshman point guard Josh Selby. The NCAA is looking into a relationship between the Baltimore native and his mentor, Robert Frazier, who is Carmelo Anthony’s business manager.
“Josh is here, and I don’t think we’ll get an answer on that situation totally, maybe for a while,” Self said. “I don’t feel bad about it at all. We’re just hopeful that can be resolved very soon. I know he’s here and we’re hopeful we can get that past us. We plan on him being in class Thursday.”
It could be awhile before Selby is cleared to play in games. Last year, the NCAA didn’t render a decision on Kentucky freshman John Wall’s eligibility until Oct. 30. Wall ultimately was suspended two games and had to pay back $788 worth of travel expenses incurred on unofficial campus visits his junior year of high school, following an investigation into his relationship with his former AAU coach, Brian Clifton.
Jordan camp: Self is looking forward to an upcoming stint as a coach at Michael Jordan’s Fantasy Camp, which runs Wednesday through Saturday in Las Vegas.
“I’ll actually coach the adults, just like you would if they are on your (college) team,” Self said, noting Hall of Famer Jordan is in attendance for the camp.
No more beard: Self was clean-shaven for Monday’s appearance at Traditions Night. He’d grown a beard the last week or so as he did last year at this time.
“I grew it over vacation. It was probably better,” he kidded referring to this year’s beard compared to last year’s.
Recruiting: KU is no longer in the running for Jabari Brown, a 6-5 senior guard from Oakland (Calif.) High, Rivals.com reports. Washington is considered Brown’s leader.
Two of Brown’s Oakland Soldiers teammates — Josiah Turner, a 6-3 senior guard from Sacramento (Calif.) High and Nick Johnson, a 6-2 senior guard from Findlay Prep High in Henderson, Nev. — will be making campus visits to KU this semester. ... Travis Jorgenson, a 5-10 sophomore point guard from Rock Bridge High in Columbia, Mo., will make an unofficial recruiting visit to KU for the Oct. 15 Late Night in the Phog, Rivals.com reports.