How long will it be until Bill Self is thrust into the conversation as not only one of the best coaches in the country, but one of the best coaches of all-time?
That’s a question that deserves serious consideration now that Self has been given a new contract from Kansas that could be worth as much as $53.32 million over the next decade. The major payday comes late in the deal — he’s got a $6 million incentive to stay until March of 2022 — which means that it is a pretty safe bet that Self will end his coaching career as a Jayhawk.
Think about it: he’s already got a top five job, if not the best job, in all of college basketball. And he’s been wildly successful there. He’s been in Lawrence for nine seasons. The past eight, he’s won at least a share of the Big 12 regular season title in addition to five Big 12 tournament titles. He won the 2008 national title, finished as the national runner-up in 2012 and had made three trips to the Elite 8 with Kansas to go along with the Elite 8’s he took both Tulsa and Illinois to.
He churns out NBA talent as consistently as any coach in the country, having 14 players picked in the NBA Draft during his tenure with the Jayhawks. He’s not slowing down, either, as Self is bringing in yet another crop of talented freshmen this season — five-star recruit Perry Ellis and four-star prospects Anrio Adams and Andrew White as well as debuting last year’s star recruit Ben McLemore — and already has two top 50 prospects committed for 2013.
Self hasn’t exactly built the Kansas program from scratch, the way that Jim Calhoun did UConn or Lute Olson did Arizona. The Jayhawks have as much history as any program in the country. There’s a reason he has one of the best jobs imaginable.
But Self has taken one of the most storied programs in the country and made them into a dynasty, the kind of power that’s never before been seen in Lawrence. Kansas has never won eight straight regular season titles before. They’ve never won five conference tournaments in a six year span before. And there’s no indication that the momentum Self’s built up will be slowing down anytime soon. His Kansas team is a favorite to win the league again this year.
Perhaps the most important point to make is that Self is coming off perhaps the best coaching job of his career. Last season, Kansas was considered by most to be a top 15 or a top 20 team. They were led by Thomas Robinson, who was talented but coming off of a year where both his grandparents and his mother had passed away, and the enigmatic Tyshawn Taylor, who was about as consistent as Carrie Mathison’s mood to that point in his career. The rest of the roster was made up with career back-ups and ineligible freshmen.
And Self still took them to the outright Big 12 title and the national title game. He’s still getting better as a coach.
In an era where players leave early for the NBA Draft and transfer if playing time isn’t immediately available, Self has been able to turn the Jayhawks into a Big 12 dynasty, keeping four and five-star recruits happy even if they have to spend a year or two riding the pine.
Kansas inked him for another decade. If he stays anywhere near the pace he’s kept up — let’s say, for example, he wins eight more regular season titles, six more Big 12 tournament titles and another national title in three more Final Four trips — where does he stack up historically?
Is he the greatest coach in Kansas history?
Is he a top five coach of all-time?
Will Kansas be playing on Bill Self Court in Phog Allen Fieldhouse in 2030?
It’s not crazy to think the answer to all three of those questions will be ‘yes’.