Opinion: Kansas doesn’t owe Wichita State anything

Every so often, especially recently since Wichita State has had some success, Wichita State likes to drag Kansas into a stupid debate.

Why won’t Kansas play Wichita State?

It may sound innocent but from the Shockers’ perspective, they’re really trying to call out Bill Self and the University of Kansas. But the answer from Jayhawk Nation is pretty simple: Bill Self doesn’t think it will benefit Kansas at all. Funny enough, this is the same reason why the University of Kansas shouldn’t play Mizzou in football or basketball.

Yes, the Jayhawks play a bunch of teams from and around the state of Kansas. Every year, Kansas typically plays their exhibitions against a combination of Washburn, Emporia State, Pitt State or Fort Hays State. In regular season play,  Kansas played St. Louis last season. Last year and this year, Kansas played Colorado. Kansas has also recently played UMKC, Tulsa and Oral Roberts.

So yes, the only Division-1 school Kansas hasn’t played from Boulder to St. Louis is Wichita State University.

Let me list some of the reasons why:

  • Bill Self says so – Earler this year, Andy Katz asked Bill Self why Kansas doesn’t play Wichita State. Many of the reasons I list below also include reiterations of what Self responded with. Here’s his answer:
    • “Kansas hasn’t played Wichita State for years, way before I was the coach at Kansas. … Iowa plays Northern Iowa because the state legislature says you have to. If someone were to come and say something that it’s law, then we would have to. But you schedule to benefit your own school, not to benefit others. You have to benefit your own school. I want to play games that benefit us, and, from a financial standpoint, it’s hard to play games away from Allen Fieldhouse since that’s our main source of budget every year.”
  • Bill Self basically said the same thing again on Tuesday night to the KC Star:
    • “This isn’t knocking Wichita State. But if it was best for our program, I would reach out to them about scheduling them. But it’s not. I’ve heard a lot of talk about them wanting to play us so bad; Gregg Marshall’s never contacted me about playing.”
    • “The one thing about being in coaching a long time and coaching at different schools and different levels is the fact that you understand that coaches schedule what’s in the best interest of their program,” Self said. “Nowhere does it say that they are obligated to schedule in the best interest of somebody else’s program that wants to play them.”
    • “Certainly, Wichita State’s done such a good job,” Self said. “They got to the Final Four, and they’re off to a great start now. But it’s about a program. It’s not about a team.”
  • Gregg Marshall – This is probably one of the biggest reasons Kansas hasn’t played the Shockers. After WSU won the NIT in 2011, Gregg Marshall referred to the Jayhawks as “Chickenhawks.” Ask any Kansas fan how they feel about Chickenhawks, and they’ll put Chickenhawks in the list of insults such as Gayhawks, Beakers and any other names as some of the childish crap that is spewed from KU-haters in and around the state of Kansas. Sheahon Zenger even took exception to the Chickenhawks comment back in 2011: “You need to think about what you say, Mr. Marshall. Don’t be flippant about your remarks about the flagship institution.” In addition, Marshall recently complained to Fox Sports that Kansas won’t schedule Wichita State. Do you think any other D-1 team constantly complains about Kansas not scheduling them besides Missouri? It’s just a desperate thing to do.
  • Marshall’s demands are too much – Also, Marshall wants a three-game series. That’s just not going to happen. Self schedules home and homes with a couple of different kinds of schools: 1) a team that has Jayhawk ties such as Colorado (lots of KU fans in Boulder and in western Kansas plus Tad Boyle is a KU-grad). 2) a basketball power house such as Ohio State and 3) in a recruiting battleground such as Arizona, Villanova, a team near Chicago or California. That’s it. Most teams that want to play Kansas are invited into Allen Fieldhouse and are given a check. That check usually helps the team feel better when they eventually lose.
  • The game does not benefit Kansas – What does Kansas gain from playing Wichita State? They won’t get additional exposure. All of their games sell out at Allen Fieldhouse anyway so it’s not like they’ll make additional money. Kansas can get any player they really want from Kansas so it doesn’t open any recruiting grounds. People in Kansas already know the University of Kansas is the basketball program in the state. If they beat Wichita State, it is just another game. If they lose, they’ll be laughed at.
  • It isn’t guaranteed Wichita State will sustain their basketball success – If you want to argue that playing Wichita State will help KU’s schedule, that’s fine. However, how does Bill Self know that the Shockers will be good for three straight years? What if Marshall leaves for a better job? What if Wichita State goes to the NIT or worse?
  • Wichita State isn’t a basketball powerhouse – Since 2003, Wichita State has made the NIT tournament five times, the CBI once and the NCAA tournament three times. Sure they won the NIT in 2011 and went to the Final Four in 2013, but Wichita State has double the amount of NIT and CBI appearances (6) as they have NCAA tournament appearances (3). I’m also being really generous since Wichita State didn’t even participate in any tournament of any kind from 1989 to 2002. Since 1983, they’ve only won their conference twice (2006 and 2012). So let’s not try to act like Wichita State is some kind of basketball power house. They’re not.

Simply put, Kansas has nothing to gain from playing Wichita State and everything to lose. Yes, the fans will love the game. But that’s really the only thing this series has going for it. I guarantee you that Bill Self will gladly play the Shockers at Allen Fieldhouse once. But Marshall is too “chicken” to do that.

Sorry Wichita State, Bill Self and the University of Kansas owes you nothing.

  • Windell Snow

    I am afraid that time has undermined your argument. Wichita State has been the best team in Kansas the last couple of years and will most likely continue to be so the next couple of years and possibly even longer if their respective recruiting models stay the same.

    I like Self. Like him a lot. There is not a lot to dislike. Generally he is honest and straight forward.

    However, the above argument is obsolete. It has been made so by television exposure, twitter, and Wichita State’s performance. If you are on ESPN, Fox, and make a splash at the dance, you gain little by playing in Dallas in an effort to attract a Dallas recruit in comparison to all the other factors.

    Except for the fact it would be a really fun weekend in KC at Sprint, I see little benefit to Wichita in playing KU. As it stands, KU gets to live with the “chickenhawk” label which will continue to get more and more national exposure. And while I believe Wichita is the better team, if they played KU could win. The status quo is the best of both worlds for Wichita.

    If you have run the gauntlet to get to the final four in modern times (Missouri has not in its history), then you have to respect the number of times it has been accomplished by KU. You also have to take note of the flame outs as well. KU has pefected how to win in the Big 12 and to play Duke and North Carolina. Not so how to play the Bradley’s, Northern Iowas and VCUs. Those are different styles with the latter placing much more emphasis on perimeter shooting, lots of screens, and constant but not obvious bumping, grabbing and shoving underneath. You cannot get used to it if you don’t play them. Something to think about.. .

    • Kim Vincent

      Great reply Wendell! What’s nice about the big dance is that ” We have nothing to gain by playing THE SHOCKERS” lame excuse can’t be used anymore.