As recently as a few years ago, big Jayhawk news would break, and I’d know where to turn: to the LJ World’s veteran columnist, Tom Keegan. While I remember a time when it was popular to mock the plainness of Keegan’s columns—or to make light of the fact that he was reluctant to scratch out a single word more than the assignment’s stated word count—I eventually learned the rhythm of his acrobatic logic. I see now that my hesitation to embrace his worldview was the folly of youth, something I gratefully grew out of. Keegan would communicate a sentiment that basically scanned as “Win good for Jayhawks,” and indeed the win was good. Sometimes, there’s nothing more to it than that.
Now, Keegan is at a paper called The Boston Herald, so I’ve been cut off from my diet of galaxy-brain-before-galaxy-brain-was-a-thing takes, owing to the Herald’s very confusing paywall as well as my lack of interest in anything related to Boston sports now that a Morris twin isn’t even involved. A bit of news broke earlier this week—that KU would be reigniting the KU-Mizzou hoops rivalry, despite the fact that Bill Self vehemently objected to the arrangement in the recent past. So… why now?
In the spirit of Keegs, I’m going to take a few angles at the Border War news, warping right into conspiracy theory territory. These are not mutually exclusive ideas. So strap on whatever lens that you relate to most and just let it ride.
Self is Definitely Leaving
Right away, a lot of fans interpreted that KU-Mizzou news meant that Self is planning to be gone by the time the series begins during the 20/21 season. It’s a paranoid thought, but I can see it. There’s a lot riding on this season and this year’s performance is going to be taken in account when deciding Self’s ultimate fate. Much hangs in the balance. The pressure is going to be insane, and seeking relief from that pressure would be a natural outcome.
But would Self actually leave sooner than later?
Self wants to coach in the NBA at some point, and everyone knows it. Every single coach with even a whiff of Popovich/Spurs on them is getting extended, paid, lauded as geniuses: Kenny Atkinson, Mike Budenholzer, even our good ol’ buddy Quin Snyder. Self is in good position to capitalize on the trend, especially with guys like older candidates like John Beilein making the leap to the pros and Popovich looking like he’s winding down.
I prefer my rumors lukewarm, and of a single origin—the Lawrence, KS real estate community. While rumors about the status of Bill Self’s house have been shot down by trusted sources, there’s going to be a lot of listings-watching throughout the season (which may prelude an offseason of flight registry watching).
Keep refreshing Zillow, because he’s definitely going.
Self is Definitely Staying
Self is staying. Leaving right now would be a disaster with the ongoing FBI case. These quotes go hard, and Self has been going hard all offseason. He’s staying, whether that’s ideal for him or not, that’s all there is to it.
Why would he say all this stuff, especially when KU really needs some solace after the Doggfather saga? Self is staying. Boom. Next!
Self is Definitely Leaving but He’s Going to Stay for a Little While
In this newsletter, it is my aspiration to supply insight, information and perspective while avoiding hedging my takes. This concept seems like a bigtime hedge, but let me elaborate.
Self sees it this way: he has to ride out the court case, and not leave KU high and dry. They’ve supported him too much, and found ways to deliver him everything he wanted even as Athletics budgets tanked and football became a cash sinkhole. I don’t like to get into the concept of “owing” someone when there’s contracts and huge money involved, because this isn’t how any of that works generally speaking, but Self knows where his bread is buttered. He’ll stick with it for as long as he has to, and then move on when the timing is more forgiving.
Bill’s offensive sets seem to gel with a lot of currently popular offensive concepts in the NBA. I’ll stop.
Money, I Guess?
I don’t know much about the structure of the deal, or who benefits the most financially (outside of people potentially caring about a Mizzou regular season basketball game for the first time in years, heyyyooooo) but lucrative offers have been on the table for years (allegedly, I should say that for legal purposes). Maybe at this point, where the NCAA and the athletics departments it governs are all just looking to cash out before shit really hits the fan w/r/t amateurism, you just have to take the money when you’ve got all the leverage, effectively a blank check. It’s a boring answer but maybe it’s the most realistic one.
The Only Thing Certain in Life is Death and Taxes
Don’t be losin’ your head, now! Step back, think about life holistically. Breathe. Kansas is going 40-0.