Coaches Lie; I Hope Bill Self Doesn't

Paul SalmanSenior Analyst IApril 10, 2008

When Bobby Knight was asked on air what is Bill Self to say when he is asked about the possible lucrative offer from his Alma mater Oklahoma State, Knight, without hesitation said, LIE!

With the recent issues concerning Self and his possible move to Oklahoma State, I began to think about this new idea of coaches signing extensions, and then leaving when something better is offered.

My first response is always, "Well where is the loyalty to the program?" or "What’s the point of his contract if he can just jump ship?"

This is the natural reaction of most avid sports fans who commit themselves to a team when they are young, and ride that out no matter how bad that team may get over the course of the fan’s life. This sounds insane on the surface. Sports are supposed to be fun, yet fans always subject themselves to the misery of following a team that doesn't win for years at a time.

Fans will then cite their own actions and attack coaches for jumping ship. However, it is very different when you begin to really think about how things work when you are on the other side of the game. Once money is involved, things change very fast.

Let’s take a look at Bill Self situation. This is a guy who has worked hard to move up in the college basketball world. In 2003, he reached the top tier of college schools when he became the head coach of Kansas; after another big name in Roy Williams packed his bags and moved to North Carolina.

Since becoming head coach of Kansas, Self has experienced some hard times, as far as university expectations are concerned. He won two Coach of the Year awards, and four Big 12 championships in his short time at Kansas. None of this was enough because he could not lead his Jayhawks to the final four, and experienced two first round exits in four years.

Now we get to 2008, where he finally gets over the hump, gets to the final four, then the championship game, and then wins. Now Kansas fans pray that he gets a nice bump from the administration in order to keep him.

Let’s say that last second shot against Davidson went in and Kansas was ousted again in the Elite Eight. Kansas fans, and the media, would be saying this guy just can't get it done. He would still be the best coach to never make the final four.

Kansas’ administration would begin to open the book of contacts in the college coaching world to see if it could find someone who can get the Jayhawks over the hump. If they could, they would fire Self, hypothetically speaking of course.

However, the opposite happened and Self's stock could not be greater. He is about to get what will be a $10 million dollar offer from Oklahoma State (after signing bonus) which is his alma mater, where his wife was once a cheerleader. Many, including myself, knock him for exploring the possibility, and will really knock him if he does jump.

Why go to Oklahoma State when you are at Kansas, college basketball royalty, and just won the national championship?

First of all, winning at Kansas is the exact reason why he would leave because now his stock cannot get any higher. He obviously can win, and can now help his alma mater, which is not a terrible basketball school by any means (two final fours since 1995) get over their hump.

So if we take a closer look at what I offered up about Davidson hitting that final shot and winning, raising more questions about Self's ability to coach the big games, followed by the Kansas administration exploring other options, the sports community would not be to upset with the idea of replacing Bill Self.

Most would say he is at Kansas, inherited great players that Roy Williams recruited, and could not get past the elite eight in what would be five attempts. Most would understand Kansas trying to get better. They are of course, college basketball royalty.

At the same time, the way things played out, there is a lot more disagreement when the coach does win and considers leaving. People view that as disloyal. We don't like coaches taking advantage of their high stock and "selling out."

My opinion is that we relate to the coach more. He is an individual that we see on a daily basis. We do not associate as well with what the administration actually is. Just some group of big wigs that makes decisions.

We think the coach is the biggest fan, and we like to think we are right there with him. We wouldn't leave at the best time to be a fan of a particular team. This is what we are fans for, getting to the top of the sport.

However a coach is not a fan. A coach is his own "administration."

A coach has his family, his advisers and his ego. A coach is doing his job. We want to move up at our job and make more money, well so does he. A coach is not necessarily a fan like we want to think.

When Bill Self makes his decision, let’s not knock him for what he does. Jayhawks’ fans will obviously be the loudest if he leaves. They would also have been the loudest to push him out the door if their team was knocked out early in the tournament.

Both scenarios would be while he is under contract with the university, but that never stops anyone anyway.

As a fan, sports are like a religion, and we apply faith to our team. We are loyal to our team. We want to believe that one day it will happen to our team.

Once it becomes a job, it’s just like any other job where everyone has one goal, move up and make more money.

So to Self, I say this, make the decision that suits you and your family best.

I just hope you are a breath of fresh air to a sports world corrupted by money and are not lying when you say you want to stay.