Cass County Democrat Missourian

Grudgingly acknowledging a touch of class in collegiate sports

Kansas men’s basketball coach Bill Self admires a trophy he received during his induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame earlier this month.
Kansas men’s basketball coach Bill Self admires a trophy he received during his induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame earlier this month. File photo

Just to set the record straight, I need to make something perfectly clear. I am a Missouri boy, having lived in this great state for my entire life. I am a proud graduate of the University of Missouri and still get a lump in my throat when I hear the “cheer for Old Mizzou.”

I am still unhappy about my alma mater’s exit from the Big 12, primarily because I miss the rivalry between Missouri and that certain university in the state immediately to our west. I have always said that I have two favorite college teams in any sport — Missouri and whoever is playing Kansas.

Now that the disclaimer has been made, please allow me to draw attention to one man, and that would be Coach Bill Self, the head coach of the Kansas Jayhawks basketball team.

Once again, Coach Self has shown himself to be a man worthy of respect.

I have always had a great deal of admiration for his interviewing skills. Regardless of the situation, the coach would always directly and sincerely reply to whatever was asked of him by members of the press.

And if he wasn’t going to answer, he would say so, earnestly and directly. And he would generally do it with a smile.

It came as a shock to no one when Self was elected for induction in the Class of 2017 for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. During his 15-year career as KU’s men’s basketball coach, he has more than proved that he is a worthy candidate.

While I have always admired his ability to handle the press and have been begrudgingly forced to admit that his coaching skills have helped KU retain its dominance in the collegiate basketball world, I have actually become even more impressed with Self. My increased respect comes not necessarily for his being recognized, but the manner in which he accepted the recognition.

I feel that his true character and his humility was on display when he said, “I really believe our job as coaches is not have our players settle, not to ever let them be less than they can be on and off the court. I’m so proud to be part of this profession. I know the longer you coach the more you realize you don’t know. I enjoy the daily challenge of trying to put this puzzle together.

“The Lord blessed me and my family beyond measure. There is no way an average player from Oklahoma would be standing before you tonight if his hand print wasn’t all over my life. I will never take this honor for granted, and I will be more humbled now than ever occupying an office on Naismith Drive.”

What else can be said of a humble man who gives credit where credit is due? In this day of poppycock political correctness, amid the push to keep any expression of faith out of the public forum, it is refreshing to hear a man say what he really thinks.

Coach Self is wise enough to know that he is not a “self-made” man, as so many proud men claim to be. He acknowledged his mentors, Coach Eddie Sutton and Coach Larry Brown, and publicly stated that he had received the blessings of God.

Yes, Bill Self belongs in the Hall of Fame along with James Naismith, Phog Allen, Larry Brown and Roy Williams. He has indeed proven that time and again both on and off the court.

I would definitely sum the man up with one word — class. Although I plan to continue to cheer for whoever is playing against Kansas, Coach Self has won the respect and admiration of this Missouri farm boy.

David Coffelt is a Harrisonville area resident and his email address is dcoffelt@coffeltlandtitle.com.

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