Bill Self has been many things to many people in his Hall of Fame coaching career but he may be on the cusp of his greatest feat ever.
We aren’t talking about a long win streak or another national title, no, this is bigger that that. As one of the few people anywhere that can’t be “cancelled,” Self is in a unique position to say what everyone is thinking and dare the media that cover him to take shots at him. Think Clint Eastwood here and “make my day.”
After KU’s game with Colorado was cancelled, we learned the Buffaloes had one player that was sick with a virus. One. So they tested all the other players and found some more positives even though all the players are vaccinated. It clearly isn’t keeping athletes from getting a watered down, mutated version of what was once Covid-19. They call in Omicron and it’s easily confused with the common cold as the symptoms, if you have any at all, are a mild fever and runny nose. You know, pretty much what every kid in every kindergarten class has this time of year.
But it was Bill Self that made the headline for me. When the typical COVID crazy press crew asked Self questions about the game being cancelled, it led to this gem.
Reporter: Did you test your players when you found out?
Self: No, we don’t have any players with symptoms.
As Self said this, he looked at the reporter with that squinted face and glare he gives to a freshman he’s pulling off the floor for taking a bad shot or turning it over. It was classic!
But he wasn’t done. Self chose to take the time to step up on the soap box where so many Americans are starting to perch these days and told the reporter, “this thing is going to spread like wildfire.” “We are all going to get it,” Self continued.
You could hear a pin drop in the stunned silence of the masked reporters as they couldn’t believe their hero coach would say something so disturbing and irresponsible. Self would continue to say that there may be some “pauses” in the season, but suggested it was silly rules causing all of this and had a curious look on his face as to why that would even happen.
The truth is this virus doesn’t hurt athletes, very few are ever sick for even a day and the flu and strep are bigger concerns to coaches right now for the health of their team than Omicron. But all the non-serious, not following science people in charge of Universities and sports league are too afraid to step up and act on behalf of their fan bases and do that right thing and state this variant is not deadly and is no threat at all to healthy athletes.
But Bill Self did. And so did Frank Martin at South Carolina and so has NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and so has Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley. If you ask me, these people are sports heroes doing something far greater than winning a game, they are advancing the conversation after two years of fear. We’ve had fear of Covid-19, fear of cancellation and fear to being socially outcast.
State and local politicians in Big 12 country have lost the will to impose their silly mandates that didn’t work in the first place and hearing Bill Self pile on can only reinforce their thought that the public has turned against them in a big way. College coaches stepping up to play games and support their players is a big, big deal. The rules are changing and the only rule should be the same rule college teams have had forever. If you have sick player with anything contagious, get him or her away from their teammates until it passes. If something contagious comes along that’s harmful to athletes, we can think about a different rule then. Bravo Bill Self.
*Kevin Kietzman is the host of the “Kevin Kietzman Has Issues” podcast. You can download it and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. He was the co-founder of Kansas City’s first all sports radio station and the highest-rated sports talk host in KC history.*