Bill Self, who was in Allen Fieldhouse preparing for his first recruiting trip of the spring AAU season Thursday, wasn't stunned to learn of Bob Huggins' decision to leave rival Kansas State after just one season.
"I'm not shocked. Whenever an alma mater is involved things like this can happen," Self, Kansas University's fourth year coach, said when asked for his reaction to Huggins accepting the head coaching position at his alma mater, West Virginia.
"He had the opportunity to go home. Circumstances were unique. Obviously going home was a factor."
KSU athletic director Tim Weiser and president Jon Wefald at a Thursday afternoon news conference said they understood Huggins' desire to return home, but flat out said it was not right for the popular coach to leave so soon after his arrival in Manhattan.
"They talk about the timing. When is the timing ever right?" Self said of coaching changes. "The timing wasn't right for me to leave Illinois. People will always say the timing is not right. If Bob could pick the timing he would not have picked this.
"I feel bad for K-State and happy for Bob if this is what he wants," Self added. "I will not judge anybody over this."
Self said it was impossible to assess any blame.
"It's difficult for anybody to pick sides in a situation like this," Self said. "Rarely does anybody know all the facts. As a coach you usually don't pick the timing."
Self's Jayhawks went 3-0 versus Huggins' first KSU team this past season.
"I'd say personally I'm disappointed," Self said. "I look forward to competing against Bob."
Self was quick to answer when asked if Huggins' decision was bad news for the Big 12.
"No," he said. "Bob was a great addition to the Big 12, but K-State will make a great hire. Their presence (in basketball) hasn't been based on one person. I'm sure they will make a great hire."
KU athletic director Lew Perkins felt for Weiser and Wefald.
Weiser worked for Perkins four years at Wichita State.
"I have a great deal of respect for Dr. Wefald, Tim and Robert Krause (vice president for institutional advancement)," Perkins said of those individuals who held a joint news conference Thursday to discuss Huggins' move.
"They negotiated in good faith with their basketball coach. I think they did everything they possibly could. It's unfortunate these kind of things happen. I don't feel sorry for those guys because they are very strong people, very good people, and they'll land on their feet," Perkins added, "but I do feel bad for the whole basketball program at the university. I know they made a major commitment to coach Huggins and his staff. It's just unfortunate they (the coaches) were not able to live up to their end of it. Tim will do all the right things, and K-State will come out in a position I think where they will be very successful."
Perkins said he took no delight in seeing KSU basketball in a state of unrest.
"Oh gosh no," Perkins said. "I think this is not good for basketball. It's not good for the state of Kansas. It's not good for K-State. It's not good for the Big 12. But it happens. It's like the kid who has a free throw to win the game, misses the free throw but scored 30 points. Do you blame the kid for losing the game? It's over. It's done. You put it all behind you.
"I will talk to Tim. If there's anything I can do to help him and help that university, I would certainly do that. We are all in this together. As we always said, if K-State, Missouri and Nebraska are strong, that will help us be strong."
Perkins said he'd give this advice if asked his opinion: "I admire those guys in how they handled the press conference. After that I'd go home, wake up tomorrow morning and say, 'OK, what do I have to do to make sure K-State comes out on top of this whole thing?' That's what they have to expend their energy on. I really believe those guys will do it."
¢ Keating's son lands job: UCLA assistant Kerry Keating, the 35-year-old son of KU senior associate AD Larry Keating, is the new head coach at Santa Clara.
"It's a great opportunity for him," Larry Keating said Thursday. "He is really excited. It turned out to be even better than he thought. He's ready."
Of Santa Clara, Larry Keating said: "It's a great program, the best athletic program in that (West Coast) Conference. They have to do some things to catch Gonzaga but have upgraded the program considerably in recent years."
Keating said his son could have remained at UCLA and possibly been hired at a big-name program a year or two down the line or taken this mid-major route.
"I always thought it was important to, in your first job, not have it be overwhelming," Keating said. "The other way worked out well for Roy (Williams) at KU, but that doesn't always happen. It's not just about the coaching, but being able to handle it all. Bill (Self) would tell you the best thing he did was work at Oral Roberts. You are more prepared for the pressure."