Those who hired Bill Self as the fifth successor to Phog Allen didn't need a great deal in the way of either imagination or guts to pull the trigger. Self already had coached two schools into the Elite Eight, headed three Div. I programs and won 207 games.
In contrast, hiring Roy Williams took guts and an ability to forecast on the part of Bob Frederick, the man who pulled the trigger.
Frederick was part of the recent postgame ceremony in which Williams was honored for winning his 500th game. He presented "Ole Roy," as Williams has been known to call himself, with a Kansas jersey No. 418, symbolic of his victory total in 15 seasons in Lawrence.
Upon his return from dadgum North Carolina, Frederick was asked one more time to look back on his decision to hire the man who took Kansas to four Final Four appearances and two title games.
When Larry Brown bolted for the San Antonio Spurs after winning the national title at Kansas, Frederick's first call was to Dean Smith, who didn't tell him anything former KU coach Dick Harp hadn't already told him: Williams, Dean's No. 2 assistant, would make a great head coach.
A few months earlier at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Springfield, Mass., Frederick had been seated next to Harp, who by then was working as an administrative assistant to Smith.
"All night long, Dick kept talking to me about Roy Williams," Frederick said. "At that time, Larry had said no to UCLA, so I figured we were good for at least another year. I wasn't thinking about the pros. I knew quite a bit about Roy from coach Smith and coach Harp. They talked about his work ethic, his ability to coach because he had been coaching a JV team there, his ability to discern talent and his general knowledge of the X's and O's."
Frederick said Smith wanted to talk only about Williams but knew that Smith would be honest about other candidates too because "he also cared about Kansas basketball in general."
Does he still?
"Absolutely," Frederick said of Smith.
But didn't he steal Williams back from KU?
"I understand how people feel that way, but I think he has a legitimate love for both institutions," said Frederick, who originally had asked Smith if he would be interested in coming back to Kansas and also talked to Gary Williams, then at Ohio State, but learned his goal was eventually to get back to Maryland, his alma mater.
At the end of his one-day visit to KU, Ole Roy had successfully recruited everyone on the search committee, and the decision was made that night to hire him.
More athletic directors should show the guts Frederick showed with that hire. The University of Minnesota, for example, will be in the market for a new coach at season's end. Bobby Knight's name is rumored. If that doesn't happen, why not Jerod Haase, who alternates with C.B. McGrath as the No. 3 assistant to Williams at North Carolina?
"He'd be a good choice," Frederick said. "Both Jerod and C.B. would be good choices."
Minnesota could do much worse than tapping a young branch from the Roy tree. Frederick certainly couldn't have done any better than he did in June of 1988.