Bill Self is a future Hall-of-Famer, and there’s no denying it. Self has built quite the reputation of success at Kansas. He has accomplished the illustrious landmark of 12 consecutive Big 12 regular-season titles (which is seemingly mentioned every week) while with the Jayhawks, and he has groomed a eye-popping 205-9 record in Allen Fieldhouse. Oh, and you can’t forget to mention that he has made the tournament in every one of his 13 seasons with the ‘Hawks. Obviously, we could rant all day about the statistics, but there is much more that defines him as a coach if we go beyond it. Conference titles are great and all, but a major name tag on a coach’s legacy is national championships. Self has only won one title, and if it happens again, he will go down as Kansas’ best.
Back in 2008, Kansas mustered out one of the greatest finales in college basketball history, taking the NCAA title after completing a monster comeback against Memphis. Four years later, Self had the opportunity to gain another crown. KU’s efforts fell short, but that team accomplished the unbelievable, exceeding all preseason expectations by making the national championship game. Kansas hasn’t visited the Final Four since, it hadn’t even made the Elite Eight since 2012 until last night. If Self were to hoist his second NCAA title this year, it would prove to all of the doubters and even the fans that Bill Self is the greatest coach at Kansas all-time. Abolish the #FireBillSelf tweets now, because there would be no denying it if it happens.
To be called the greatest coach in the history of Kansas basketball must be an achievement, right? I mean, it is one thing to be the best coach at some junior college, but the University of Kansas? You bet that he is the best. It was not an easy task to continue what Roy Williams did with the Jayhawks for a magnificent 15-year career. Even what Larry Brown did back in 1988 was remarkable. Both men were terrific coaches, but after all of the dust settled, Kansas made just three national title appearances in their combined 20 seasons. Self has already visited the national championship game twice. If Bill Self were to push his top-seeded Jayhawks through the rest of the 2016 field, he would have notched his third visit to the title game in just 13 seasons.
So,what does this title really mean for Self?
Bill Self will not have to worry about going down in the history books as a legend. You could say that winning this title would preserve his golden status, kind of like a metaphorical “icing on the cake” for his career. This one would definitely be more sentimental to Self, as he recollects on what it was like the last few times he was courtside at college basketball’s biggest stage. Ultimately, Self would be able to show how much progress and development that the team has shown throughout this academic year. They got past the doubters, the naysayers and the haters. When he came to Kansas, I don’t think anyone would have thought that he would accomplish so much in such a little span of time. The man from Okmulgee, Oklahoma could very well be seeing himself among the other greats like Coach K or Bobby Knight.
It might sound cliche, but Self is going to want to win the NCAA title for his players, and he will be quick to throw his own personal fame out of the window for the chance to experience it with his team. Every part of this season has been done as a team. The scoring, the bonding, the winning, and much more has been done as a group. He will mostly want it for the senior class: Perry Ellis, Jamari Traylor, Hunter Mickelson, and Evan Manning. He will even want it for the fans.