Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Bill Self: Last 5 seasons at Kansas have been more special because of my son

Kansas guard Tyler Self (20) smiles as he listens to his dad talk about him during the Senior Night speeches following the JayhawksÕ 73-63, comeback win over Oklahoma.

Kansas guard Tyler Self (20) smiles as he listens to his dad talk about him during the Senior Night speeches following the JayhawksÕ 73-63, comeback win over Oklahoma.


When the final horn sounded on Kansas’ 73-63, Senior Night victory over Oklahoma on Monday night, it signaled the Allen-Fieldhouse-end of a five-year run that has been like no other for the head basketball coach at KU.

During that time, Bill Self has enjoyed something that only a few other college coaches have had the opportunity to experience. And, sure, while most would think that Self’s unique endeavor had to do with his insane win total, the experience actually had very little to do with the outcome of any of the 176 games (and counting) that have taken place during the past five seasons and a lot to do with his son, fifth-year senior walk-on Tyler Self.

“It’s been fun,” Self said after Monday’s victory. “I’ve enjoyed coaching all my years here, without question. But I’ve really enjoyed the last five years more because I get a chance to be around him every day.”

That was the idea behind putting Tyler on the team in the first place. No one ever entertained thoughts that the Free State High grad would become a regular in KU’s rotation or make a name for himself as a basketball player. But none of that mattered to either the player or the coach. Instead, being on the team and traveling on the bus and being there in practice, after games, during the good times and bad, was all about a chance to learn the game and carve out some quality, if not completely unique, father-son bonding time.

Tyler said after Monday’s game — before joking as he walked away about how nice the media room was — that he and his father established early on that they would have a player-coach relationship on the court and a father-son relationship off of it.

For the most part, it went exactly that way. But Monday night, when Tyler made the first and only start of his Kansas career, the line blurred just a little bit.

“It was great,” Self said of seeing his son in the starting lineup. “You know, I wish we would’ve played better early so I could’ve kept him out there a little longer, but I actually thought he did pretty good.”

In all, Tyler played three minutes and was whistled for one foul. He did not attempt a shot — though the Allen Fieldhouse fan base desperately wanted him to do so — and he did not record a rebound, a steal, an assist or even a turnover.

In many ways, though, it was the perfect ending to a career that really was never about basketball.

During these past five years, Tyler earned the respect of his teammates by working hard, setting an example of how to prepare — in practice, in the film room and in the classroom — and sacrificing everything for an opportunity to be a part of the team.

He also earned the respect of his father, who proudly boasted during the Senior Night festivities that there were three words that came to mind whenever he saw Tyler, thought about him or heard his name mentioned — “That’s my son.”

“It’s been a great run,” Self reiterated. “(Senior) Landen (Lucas has) been here five (years), (fellow-senior) Frank (Mason III has) been here four, but Tyler’s been here 14 so he’s been able to see and touch all the guys coming through here and had a lot of good role models that came before him. To see him be a part of it is pretty special.... There’ll be a lot of things he’ll remember that I won’t, and probably a lot of things that I’ll remember that he didn’t think was a big deal.

“Every parent probably wishes they could spend more time with their kids growing up, while they’re chasing the carrot, and I certainly chased it. You know, you can’t get time back, but certainly it makes it that much more special when you can get quite a bit of time (together).... It’s not an even trade, but certainly I’ll take it.”


Steve Corder 2 years, 5 months ago

If not mistaken, Phog coached his son or sons.

Todd Conner 2 years, 5 months ago

You are correct Steve. Bob Allen I know played for Doc.

Steve Corder 2 years, 5 months ago

Looked it up, Mitt Allen played ('34-'36?) for his dad a few years before Bob.

Phog was fired by KU regents as athletic director in 1937 and was ready to leave KU for a job offer at twice his KU salary. He stayed only because his high school son, Bob, had dreamed of the day he could play for his father. Phog stayed at KU as Head of Physical Education & Varsity Basketball, a faculty position. The rest is history, as it is said.

Dale Rogers 2 years, 5 months ago

And that five years also gave Tyler Self to learn what it takes to be a great coach. And his bachelor's is in Sports Management. Future KU Head Coach in training? Tyler will be in his mid-thirties when Dad reaches 65. The young man has a head start. Let's see when he starts working on the staff and works his way up the coaching ladder. I'm hoping Tyler Self will be the reincarnation of Bill Self in terms of KU head coaches.

Harlan Hobbs 2 years, 5 months ago

If that is the path that Tyler wants to take, Dale, I'm all for it. Bill Self is a legend in a program full of legends. How fortunate we are to be along for the ride.

Bryce Landon 2 years, 5 months ago

That doesn't always work out. John Thompson III hasn't exactly made Georgetown the force to be reckoned with that his father did. Sean Sutton flamed out at Oklahoma State because he couldn't match the success Eddie had there. And Pat Knight never could get things going at either Texas Tech or Lamar after following his illustrious father Bob.

Jonathan Allison 2 years, 5 months ago

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon

Little boy blue and the man on the moon

When you comin' home, Dad

I don't know when, but we'll get together then

You know we'll have a good time then

Len Shaffer 2 years, 5 months ago

Love the quote, Jonathan.

I used to play piano and sing that song for my dad, and he loved it.

Harlan Hobbs 2 years, 5 months ago

You're correct, Bryce. Following a legend, even when he is your father is a tough task. In fact, I am having a hard time thinking of one who was as successful as his dad. That's the dilemma that KSU football is in right now when Bill Snyder finally chooses to retire.

RJ King 2 years, 5 months ago

Depends on how you define success. Scott Drew > Homer Drew???

Len Shaffer 2 years, 5 months ago

Good point, RJ. As far as I know, that's the best example. I can't think of any others.

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