Next Season is Basically Going to Be "Friday Night Lights"

*Kansas* forever?

On Thursday night spoke with the media, and I am jacked about it. Take a look:

Since this week’s news hit, I’ve had time to reflect. The oncoming battle with the NCAA feels like it’s going to take an eternity, and some pundits like Jay Bilas think it has the potential to go Federal. All of the sudden, how/when/if KU gets punished is going to be a weighty topic interpreted through a variety of cultural lenses. Whatever the endgame is, it’s going to be revealing, and it’s probably not going to play out until after the season, *if* that early.

While I wouldn’t at all call this a silver lining, this KU season has taken on an incredibly heightened sense of urgency. Bill Self is pissed, and for better or worse, sometimes these high-pressure situations bring out something in Self. It’s going to be non-stop drama on all fronts of the Kansas basketball ecosystem: recruiting, team culture, competitive quality, and inter-staff dynamics (especially with some big new additions to the staff and a new-ish AD). Tensions… yeah, those are gonna be HIGH. On a “sports” level, I’m here for it.

Does this situation remind you of any pop culture properties? Smash the play on the following YT for the rest of this newsletter post.

Even though it wasn’t spoken out loud, Bill Self has already delivered a banger in the NCAA’s direction. Take the quote like the one above, or this one—”I don't see this being a distraction at all from a players' standpoint and I see it as being a gift to me from a personal standpoint that it’ll motivate me in a pretty competitive way,” he told the LJ World. A gift! Self is going to use this, and maybe we’re looking at one of the most breakneck basketball seasons in Kansas history. Even though danger hovers around the program, I’m hype.

It’s too early to cast judgments—specifically, which player is which character from FNL, or which season’s storyline next year’s team will most closely follow—but that analysis can happen (and I plan on it happening) in time. Most KU seasons, the main narrative tension involves winning the conference, or whether they have a friendly path to the Final Four. Not this season.

Bill Self is going to be running a top 5 basketball team, an election campaign, and a courtroom drama all at once. Self’s always found players down the Rivals150, and this year’s recruiting challenge is his greatest yet, since no major recruit is coming anywhere near Kansas until this is resolved. Recruiting all of the sudden has a very “Mighty Ducks” vibe.

In sports, it’s easy to categorize entire periods of time as “good” or “bad.” It’s easier to remember. But those value judgments don’t happen in real time, and none of these tags are mutually exclusive. It’s going to be a pretty high-strung season, but it could also be fun, on some level. Public perception is what it is, but major media outlets already feel fatigued by this story, which has gone on since the Adidas fraud case. Is that an advantage or a disadvantage? Time will tell, friends.

In the meantime, let’s make some memories.