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Kansas State basketball coach Bruce Weber can't shake the ghost of Bill Self

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A man becomes familiar with the details of his own funeral and it spooks him to the bone. This sort of thing is only supposed to happen in that dimension that lies between the pit of Rod Serling’s fears and the summit of his knowledge.

And at Bruce Weber’s basketball practice.

In a move that at some level has haunted Bill Self since it happened — despite how he has played it off publicly — and could haunt Weber every time his Kansas State team plays against Kansas, Weber held a mock Self funeral at an Illinois practice.

Since his own funeral, Self has won eight consecutive Big 12 titles, plus a national title, has gone 3-1 in Final Four games and has signed a 10-year, $53 million contract, all of which helps to explain why he’s such a friendly ghost.

Tired of his players getting peppered with questions about Self, Weber showed up for practice wearing black and informed the players there would be a funeral for Self.

Weber’s nearly decade-old macabre act is grist for the Kansas-Kansas State rivalry, but only to an extent. Bob Huggins, as his is custom, got right to the point regarding the rivalry when he started his only season in Manhattan. It’s only a rivalry, he said, if both teams win their fair share of games.

Huggins, back in the conference with West Virginia, added rivalry spark with the national reputation he brought and the alley-fighter quality he and his teams bring to every game, but he went 0-3 against Kansas.

Huggins left K-State after a year, but left behind key recruits and his combative spirit in the form of his long-time assistant. Frank Martin coached 11 games against Kansas and his court-side antics — death glares, foot stomps and verbal bombs aimed at his players and referees — made his rivalry role memorable, but he only won twice.

Other than winning more often, about all Weber could do to approach the sizzle Huggins and Martin brought to the rivalry is wear all black every time he faces KU, but he’s not likely to cling to the weirdest incident of his career.

I asked Weber about the mock funeral and whether if he had to do over again he would not have done it. He stopped short of saying that.

“To me it was a compliment to Bill,” Weber said this morning in the Sprint Center at Big 12 Media Day. “The players loved him. The fans loved him. And he left. And I always joked, the fans were mad at me for coming and he’s the one who left. It didn’t make sense to me and I would always tell people, this is bass-akward.”

Why the funeral?

“I did it for the players,” Weber said. “The players kept saying, ‘Coach, we can’t move on. The media’s not letting us.’ Just like you’re not letting me move on. ‘They keep asking the same question.’ So I said, ‘I’m going to end it for you guys.’ That was my way of doing it.”

The after-shock continues.

“Now, did I ever anticipate it would get the publicity it did? No, I didn’t anticipate that,” Weber said. “For Bill’s sake, it was a compliment for what he had done there in a short period of time. Just like now, there are a lot of people who love Frank Martin. Now you’ve got to kind of win those guys over.

"Bill obviously did a great job at Illinois, at Tulsa, at Oral Roberts, and now at Kansas. He’s an exceptional coach. I’m just happy I’m at K-State and have a chance to compete against one of the top programs.”

In a five-year stretch that spanned his final two seasons at Southern Illinois and his first three at Illinois, Weber averaged more than 28 victories and won 10 NCAA Tournament games. He took his second Illinois team, loaded with Self’s recruits, to the national-title game, where it lost 75-70 to Roy Williams and North Carolina.

Timing is everything. Had Weber come to K-State in the midst of that run of big-time success, Manhattan might have erected a purple statue in his likeness. Instead, some faces turned purple with outrage, clinging to the belief that athletic director John Currie was responsible for Martin fleeing to South Carolina.

“What I’ve done is try to be out there,” Weber said. “You’ve got to be around and let them get to know you. I know there was some people grumbling a little bit when I took the job, but overall I just can’t believe the reception. They keep coming up to me and saying, ‘Thank you for coming to K-State.’ I tell them, ‘Thank you for having me.’ ”

Weber said that during his interview for the Kansas State job after getting fired by Illinois, one of the first questions athletic director John Currie asked him was, “Do you want to come here and deal with that?” meaning the KU rivalry.

“I think as a coach you want to compete against the best,” Weber said. “... I hope we can make it a rivalry. Obviously, it is a rivalry, but we hope we can compete and have a chance to really get them worried about us also. It should be fun.”

Comments

Eric Dawson 2 years, 2 months ago

Weber could have "shaken the ghost of Bill Self", but he chose to go to K-State.

No tears for Johnny.

wazzie 2 years, 2 months ago

Thanks Keegan for asking him that question. If you think Bill doesn't care about that and won't use it, even for his personal use, you are crazy. That was dumb and Weber will fail after Martin's recruits leave just like he did at Illinois.

irvan moore 2 years, 2 months ago

i am not now and have never been a bruce weber fan

clevelandjayhawker 2 years, 2 months ago

It would be nice if these Keegan articles had the notes with half of his sentances. Feels like every opening paragraph for his articles I have to do a google/wiki search. Today was who the f is Rod Serling, turns out it was a Twlight Zone reference

actorman 2 years, 2 months ago

If you don't know who Rod Serling is, you can't blame Keegan for that. It's pretty basic knowledge.

clevelandjayhawker 2 years, 2 months ago

maybe if your over 45, or if you are an actor....man

milwaukeeJAYHAWK 2 years, 2 months ago

I'm only 30 and I know who Serling is. Twilight Zone was one of the biggest shows ever, no matter how old you are. Kinda like how we all know who Marilyn Monroe was....before many of our times, but is referenced all the time....

Kevin Studer 2 years, 2 months ago

Yeah, Rod Sterling is not an obscure reference.

nuleafjhawk 2 years, 2 months ago

BILL SELF DIED ???????

Oh well, his ghost will still beat K-State.

And probably win the Big 12 championship every year.

Jayhawk444 2 years, 2 months ago

two of the best quotes I saw after the Weber-to-KState hire:

(1) "...and Bruce Weber thought he had trouble getting out from under Bill Sefl's shadow at Illinois"

(2) "When you succeed at Illinois, you go to Kansas. When you fail at Illinois, you go to KState"

Liberace. good one! Never heard that one before. I think I'll keep it handy!

farnamjayhawk 2 years, 2 months ago

Your second bullet point made me laugh out loud...... Much more than an LOL laugh. Absolutely awesome!

JJHAWK 2 years, 2 months ago

ALERT - ALERT

KU banner opportunity for clever student(s)

The ghost of Self haunting place

You are at Allen Field House - Have a good haunting

Welcome to Allen Field House - Home of Self haunting

May the Phog of Self haunting be with you!

Warning - Self Haunting Phog

Wouldn't it be neat to get another banner for the ages. Only at Allen. Be a great poke at KSU in the process. Be clever someone, get r done!

milehighhawk 2 years, 2 months ago

If the game(s) against KSU get out of hand, I don't see Self letting his foot off the gas.

martyks 2 years, 2 months ago

Maybe we should all wear black when we play K-State? Make it a black out game? ESPN style? Now if I could do this cut and paste up right... I'd splash Coach Self up on the Abbey Road cover without his shoes, and I'd put Weber in the role of the Mortician... Ringo Starr... I'm over 45 so these guys might be lost on you, cleveland. The preacher (John Lennon) would have to be Keegan. Who's going to be Harrison, the grave digger? Huggins or Martin?

jaybate 2 years, 2 months ago

Bruce Weber--Interim KSU Head Coach.

tauck 2 years, 2 months ago

I will agree with the all black attire at the 1st home game with K-State. It has been written, it has been stated and it needs to become a "reality". Classic idea....Hey students, make it happen!!!

Bruce Rist 2 years, 2 months ago

Why did Frank Martin go to South Carolina??

milehighhawk 2 years, 2 months ago

Hated the AD. My guess is suspending the kid during the NCAA tourney last uear was the final straw.

texashawk10 2 years, 2 months ago

I would love to see KU bust out some all black uniforms when they head over to the Hawktagon later this year with Bill Self wearing all black as well and hold a mock funeral for Bruce Weber in the Hawktagon in front of KSU faithful. Speaking of KU being better than KState, KU volleyball beat a higher ranked KSU volleyball team 3-1 tonight in the first ever meeting when both programs are ranked.

Joel Thomas 2 years, 2 months ago

It will be interesting when KU players visit WVU, and their fans will be throwing literal dimes and other crap.

JayhawkRock78 2 years, 2 months ago

Are you serious? WVU really throw things at athletes?

wats211 2 years, 1 month ago

I like you keeg....but your articles on football and b-ball over the past month leave me scracthing my head....are you OK?.....Weis inherited gill talent...leave him alone....Weber.....hasn't even coached a game yet....martin left him some players....Weber is a good coach...ask Self..he will tell you that...so watch K-state play well this year...and we want them to...we want all Kansas schools to be relevant.....but I love you man...just don't stir up stupid stuff...you are suppose to be a professional...act like it

hailtoku 2 years, 1 month ago

The mock funeral was like a decade ago. Let's all move on.

HawkitToEm 2 years, 1 month ago

"I asked Weber about the mock funeral and whether if he had to do over again he would not have done it. He stopped short of saying that."

hahahahahahhaa, best sentence ever. doesn't ku have an amazing journalism school? ku is the birthplace of basketball, and we have a top notch basketball program. if we have a top notch journalism school, shouldn't we expect top notch journalism in the rest of the town?

how many posts have to talk about how keeg's poor writing skills before he gets fired?

turner gill did a better job coaching than keeg does writing. i for one will never click on another keegan article. and you shouldn't either. fewer hits for his articles is the only way the ljworld will take a hint.

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