Not even four minutes into game time during last night’s College Gameday matchup between Kansas and Oklahoma State, the Jayhawks were officially outright Big 12 Champions. Kansas State knocked off Iowa State and earlier in the day, Texas lost. That meant that even if the Jayhawks lost their remaining three games, the Jayhawks would still be Big 12 champs (and no sharing this year).
But the Jayhawks did lose, despite having a 10-point lead midway through the second half. Bill Self wasn’t exactly proud of his team’s effort down the stretch so he decided against having the team celebrate winning the Big 12 outright.
In regards to the Big 12 championship t-shirt and hats, Self said, “I told them, ‘Put them under the damn bus,’ because to me, we missed our opportunity to celebrate.”
If you go to the front page of the Kansas City Star’s website today, you’ll see this headline front and center: “Bill Self acts like a jerk after his Jayhawks win Big 12 title.”
In the opinion piece, Yael T. Abouhalkah (a KU grad but he hates college sports) says that Bill Self is being a big bully by not letting his team celebrate winning the Big 12 regular season championship. Apparently Self was supposed to be ecstatic his team lost and march his team out on the court, raise the Big 12 trophy over his head and proceed to cut down the nets while the Oklahoma State fans rioted in the middle of the court.
I’m pretty sure if that happened, Abouhalkah’s column this morning would be “Bill Self is a pompous jerk for celebrating in front of Oklahoma State fans.”
The rest of the country would be laughing at the Jayhawks, too.
Last year, Indiana’s Tom Crean got roasted by the national media and fans on Twitter when Indiana went and cut down their nets after clinching the Big Ten title after losing to Ohio State on Senior Night. Yes, it’s a little bit different when your win would have given them the outright title but they had to settle for a tie. But still, it was highly criticized by the fans and the media.
Yes, Bill Self said on Saturday that they would celebrate it when they won it outright: “The players didn’t stay out (on the court) to celebrate, and I told our guys we will celebrate whenever we win it.”
What Abouhalkah failed to realize was Self’s emphasis on “whenever we win it.” Not letting someone else win it for them.
Bill Self and the Jayhawks return to Lawrence this week to take on the Texas Tech Red Raiders on Senior Night. It’ll be a celebration of Tarik Black and Niko Robert’s careers, it’ll be a final goodbye to Andrew Wiggins and possibly Joel Embiid. The KU video department will have an amazing “10 straight” video and it’ll be a celebration. The Jayhawks will raise the Big 12 trophy at center court and the players will finally get their t-shirts and hats (trust me, Abouhalkah, they have plenty of them already) and the fans will go nuts.
It’ll be a hell of a lot better celebration than what would have happened in Stillwater last night, even if Kansas had won.
Bill Self makes $5 million a year for a reason. Because he knows what he’s doing. He knows how to win and he knows how to motivate his players. Trust me, Abouhalkah and the KC Star, Self’s “jerk” behavior last night was strategic. It’ll come back to benefit KU in the end.