Hearne: Cleveland, The One That Got Away from KU Coach Bill Self.

BdeqKGICIAAdelJWe told you so…

How many times, how many different ways, how many different reasons has KC Confidential laid out the past couple years to make the case that there really was a good chance KU basketball coach Bill Self would bolt to the NBA sometime in the not too distant future?

For starters, Self’s gone about as fer as he kin go in Lawrence.

Which as we’ve noted, is like living in a tiny fishbowl, especially for someone with the stature of Bill Self. Probably the worst case scenario of that went down a year and a half ago when tongues were wagging all over town about an alleged affair Self was having, with uh, somebody that lives really close to me. And no, not my wife.

That Self had been kicked out of his house and was holed up for weeks at a ritzy, big bucks condominium project in the burbs. My electrician friend here swears that construction buddies of his saw Self’s black SUV rolling out of the garage there every morning.

Plus college basketball isn’t what it used to be.

The days of Dean Smith and Jon Wooden appear over. Recruit a super talent like Danny Manning or Andrew Wiggins and keep them on the team for four years while your build a Final Four team? No way.

The new paradigm?

Build multi million dollar luxury apartments for recruits likely to stay just one year, rinse and repeat, ad nauseam. Or, recruit good but not great players who will stay all four years and place your bet on experience over raw talent and ability. Kinda like Wichita State.

But how much fun can either of those be, once you’ve tasted the forbidden fruit?

92d43717dbeabc4d944ee72723333841_crop_northCoaching college basketball today is almost like coaching in the NBA developmental league. 

And trust me, when you’re taking down $4 million a year, there aren’t very many fun places to spend that money in Lawrence…or Kansas City, for that matter.

Not when you’ve got the appetites and the ego of Bill Self.

Why not just coach in the bigs?

So it comes as little surprise that Self admitted to having talks with the Cleveland Cavaliers about the team’s head coaching vacancy. Why wouldn’t he? And why wouldn’t he downplay it now since he didn’t either take it or get it?

Of course he’s going to downplay the story now, he’d be a dummy not to.

lefsAnd trust me, you won’t find two news organizations more obliging than the Kansas City Star and Lawrence Journal World to politely report the story for KU and Self, that allows him the most wiggle room and comfortable spin.

I can tell you from my years at the Star, sports section places the highest value imaginable on its relationship with KU athletics. Ditto the Journal World, although its exhibited a lot more bite in past years than the Star.

Seriously though, if KU stopped or seriously dialed back its advertising in the Journal World, the newspaper would have to either go out of biz or convert to a weeklyprint  and online format like The Pitch.

Hence headlines like this one last May:

“Bill Self wants to watch NBA, not coach it”

ClevelandThen again, if you were Bill Self would Cleveland be your choice among NBA cities?

Careful how you answer that because Cleveland’s on a huge roll right.

They’ve got basketball’s best Lebron James, college football’s best Johnny Manziel and the town just landed the 2016 Republican Convention.

When’s the last time KC put the grabs on a Triple Whammy like that?

However when Self danced his dance with the Cavaliers, he had no idea about any of that or that his prize KU recruit Andrew Wiggins would be playing there for certain.

Makes you kinda wonder what Self’s really thinking right about now?

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23 Responses to Hearne: Cleveland, The One That Got Away from KU Coach Bill Self.

  1. Kyle Rohde says:

    I’ll give you that it’s bizarre he casually mentioned the Cavs stuff in that interview this week. However, it sounds like the Cavs were trolling for any action they could get from college coaches and that Self was a clear #3 option after Calipari and Izzo, so I doubt the talks went very far beyond a short conversation.

    If Self does leave, it’ll be for the OKC job, provided he has the assurance Durant is going to get resigned and not bolt in free agency in 2016. Or, the San Antonio job will be appealing whenever Popovich retires. And after 11 years and 10 straight B12 titles, it’d suck for him to leave but would be hard to begrudge the guy giving it a try. KU basketball is bigger than Bill Self and it’ll be fine if he leaves, though a couple rough years may be the immediate repercussion.

    • admin says:

      That’s a fair assessment, Kyle.

      But these things rarely come out by accident or this casually. If this had been something the Star or another news organization had been digging for – and not fed – it would have had a harder edge. Not the “casual” comment flavor you correctly identified.

      My guess is, KU and Self knew this was going to leak (or had) and decided the best defense was to feed it to one of their most trusted news sources for the most favorable spin.

      And hey, it worked.

      Here’s the money quote:

      “I talked to the Cavs’ people a lot throughout their evaluation process and the draft, but I’ll just leave it at that,” Self said. “That wasn’t anything I wanted to become public certainly, and they didn’t either.”

      Saying he’ll leave it at that, prevents him from getting possibly caught in a fib later. And saying he didn’t want it to become public tells us that he wouldn’t have just “casually” mentioned it. He did so for a reason.

  2. the dude says:

    Another Pitino flameout if he decides to test the NBA waters.
    Like Saban he is a better recruiter than a coach.

  3. rkcal says:

    Quick! Throw more money at him! Open those checkbooks, deep pockets! Luxury dorms, contract extension, what does Bill need to keep him happy on the farm?

  4. Rainbow Man says:

    Some men sit in the first few rows of church with their loyal wife who has to genuflect and scoot out right after Communion to set up the bake sale and gossip about the tattoos on the younger parishioners.

    Maybe Bill Self isn’t one of those despicable guys like above. Either way, I don’t care about his personal life.

    I would say that Self won’t finish his coaching career at KU faster than you can say Mac Brown. He is not going to get old and crusty at KU. He is young enough to make a move and real winners get motivated by stuff like this. My prediction… He tries the NBA and if it doesn’t happen …hello Stillwater. Even if it does happen in the NBA, hello Stillwater.

    Bill Self is one of the best basketball coaches in the U.S. and as long as he is under 60-63, he is going to be extremely sought.

    • admin says:

      That’s an interesting prediction, Rainbow Man

      And it makes a lot of sense. There’s only so much one can do here in Lawrence. I’m coming up on my second anniversary and while it beats the heck out of the three months I spent in Topeka, it’s a bit too sleepy and lacking in the energy and vibe of Kansas City.

      Hey, I’m in KC several times a week still but if I were Bill Self’s age, was taking down $4 million or so a year and had his penchant for partying, have the world’s best rug, botox treatments and the like, I’d be looking for an actual city to weigh anchor in.

      Small town charm, sleepy citizenry and highly limited choices in about anything and everything from retail, dining, nightlife – you name it – can and does get old.

      • rkcal says:

        Isn’t Lawrence basically a suburb of KC? I work with many people who live in Lawrence and work and play in KC. I get the sleepy and limited choices, but that includes the KC metro as well.

        • admin says:

          You’re right, rkcal…

          But only up to a point. Driving to KC may only take 40 minutes to an hour, but try going out on the town for dinner and a bit of partying and it’s a long drive back.

          Don’t forget, one for the reasons Westport and Power & Light don’t do the kind of business they once did is because people in the suburbs – only 20 to 25 minutes away – don’t like to drive that far, especially if they’ve been drinking.

          I know people here in Lawrence that drive to work five days a week in Kansas City and it gets old. Fast.

          I’ve always considered Lawrence like a suburb of Kansas City and clearly that has helped the town grow immensely.

          But the kind of partying Self wants to do isn’t driving to Church of the Resurrection or shopping trips to the Plaza or Oak Park Mall.

          Those choice appear farther and farther away the longer you live here and the more you make the commute.

  5. Bob says:

    “Seriously though, if KU stopped or seriously dialed back its advertising in the Journal World, the newspaper would have to either go out of biz or convert to a weeklyprint and online format like The Pitch.”

    I’m still amazed that you are still amazed that Lawrence is a college town.

    • admin says:

      Hold the amazement, Bob…

      I certainly am not. Just making an observation based on two years of reading and observing the diminishing state of the once proud Lawrence Journal World.

      People complain about the Star, and certainly it’s a shadow of what it once was and is increasingly beholden to advertisers. But at least from time to time, it will still “afflict the comfortable ” as well as “comforting the afflicted.”

      And no single advertiser stands between the Star and extinction. In the Journal World’s case, losing KU would decimate it.

      Worse yet, the newspaper has no voice, offers up no opinion by columnists casting a critical eye on the University or its athletics department. That’s not only lame, it’s pathetic.

      Yeah, t’s a college town, but it’s also a city of closing in on 100,000 people with a wide variety of businesses and other interests that would benefit hugely from having a watchdog. And that’s too bad.

      • Bob says:

        Ok. You seem to get it. KU isn’t going anywhere, so I wouldn’t expect your opinion to change of the LJW.

        I went to school there and like to visit, but in no way would I want to live there again.

        I do have a bone to pick with this…

        “Worse yet, the newspaper has no voice, offers up no opinion by columnists casting a critical eye on the University or its athletics department. That’s not only lame, it’s pathetic.”

        Dolph Simon is very critical of KU to the point where it is assumed he hates KU.

  6. CG says:

    Hearne is right we covered this last year about Bill. No other local media wanted to say he would soon leave KU. He will. It’s just life in big money sports today. Hearne broke down the other reasons, small town life at KU has to be getting to Self, He’s gone as far as he can with KU basketball, he’d love one more national title, but he is already a hall of fame college coach…At 50 its time for Bill to move on…I wish him well he did a great job here. The best.

  7. PB says:

    Who gives a sh!t about The Star, you guys make it a daily habit of saying they don’t matter anymore except apparently when it comes to being this blog’s favorite whipping boy and/or pimping one of your “own” stories. They really are pretty irrelevant anymore, but KC Confidential still treats them as the powerful entity they once were thus ironically, giving them the relevance that they don’t deserve. Funny stuff.

    Once again, you all claim to be cutting edge and the only ones willing to talk about a topic that literally gets talked about EVERYDAY on KU-centric blogs/boards like KU Sports.com or Phog.net, both of which have a helluva lot more traffic than this place. Thanks for bringing it strong about the possibility of Coach Self someday leaving, I really hadn’t heard that one before.

    • admin says:

      I’ve never said the Star doesn’t matter anymore…

      You’re confusing me with that Tony dude, I think.

      The Star still is the one media in Kansas City that truly does matter. Are they above criticism, are they doing as good a job as they might?

      In a word, no.

      There’s a difference between an established media such as the Star, Pitch, KCC or even Tony’s at this point and random fan sites and chat rooms that cater to a very narrow and usually quite small audience.

      Take Bill Self’s marital problems. The chat room and fan site commentary on that at the time was easily dismissible because there was no credibility. Many folks attributed it – including the former editor of the Journal World – to merely some mischievous MU fans.

      I combed the town, interviewed dozens of local – many at length – and was able to source it well beyond anything any Mizzou Antlers had to do with anything.

      There’s a difference to reporting and offering up opinions with your name on them – having an established track record and cultivating informed sources – and basically people with cute names dropping carpet bombs with nothing more behind them than the keyboards they’re typed on.

      My guess is, deep down, you probably get that.

      • Viva Che' Polar Bear says:

        “That Tony guy” ? Are you referring to TKC, the taco that boasts of being the “Only Free Speech Blog” in KC ? That Tony guy ?

        That’s the same “Tony guy” that deleted the Polar Bear’s comment about Alonzo Washington, Grifter deluxe, just last night for using the the “n” word. “N” as in Negro, not the other “N” word. I do believe that the word Negro is defined as : The word “Negro” is used in the English-speaking world to refer to a person of black ancestry or appearance. Negro denotes “black” in Spanish and Portuguese,…

        The word Negro, when used in discussing crime in Kansas City is quite appropriate. But I digress. The “Tony guy” comment got me.

  8. Goose13 says:

    Let’s look at it from a different angle. How often is he home during the off-Season. Traveling a lot. Easy to “enjoy” the finer things in life. No one is around. Then come back to Lawrence and newspaper is not going to give him a hard time. He is the king of Lawrence. What happens outside of Lawrence, stays outside of Lawrence. Just a different view.

    • admin says:

      That’s a good take, Goose…

      However, as Paul Wilson knows he’s under a microscope by anybody and everybody in this small town when he’s here. I think Paul was with him when he had to put up with a bunch of random small talk when they had lunch.

      Multiply that by a zillion and think what it would be like everywhere you go practically. Anybody and everybody who sees you. Trust me, very few celebs have an appetite for that kind of 24/7 scrutiny.

      Not sure how glamorous many of those recruiting visits are either. Holed up in the bad part of town, schmoozing some poor kids parents. Eating at McDonald’s – because the kids don’t want to go to some fancy-schmancy gourmet joint.

      I guess he could hit on some truck stop waitress in Columbia, S.C. and nobody would know the better. But this dude is super well-heeled and knows the difference between slumming around on recruiting trips and living the good life in a multi million dollar home or apartment in a tres glam city.

      And I’m not so sure when and if he makes the leap, he’ll remain married.

  9. Orphan of the Road says:

    Perhaps Self’s recruiting trips and such scratch that sportin’ life itch?

    I don’t know if I’d consider a move from Lawrence to Cleveland and upgrade regardless of salary.

    • admin says:

      Cleveland is on a roll, Orphan.

      Do some research, they’ve invested in a ton of development in recent years.

      And they’ve got Johnny Football, Lebron and Andrew Wiggins.

      Sounds a lot more exciting than KC sports wise

  10. PucKChaser says:

    He will be at KU as long as a certain redshirt sophomore basketball player named Self is there. End of story and speculation.

  11. PB says:

    As with any media coverage of a celebrity and this goes as far back as the existence of celebrities, the likeable, more accessible types get much more of a pass from the media and because of his accomplishments (which are really the only sustained local sports success story) and personality, Coach Self falls into that category.

  12. Snappietom says:

    They cried when Roy left, what will they do when Burrito Bill leaves next year to the NBA.?

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