Grandstanding is transparent. You are who you are. It is what it is. No chest puffery in the world can mask the ugly truth and some times the truth hurts. Sorry for the inundation of clichés.
Have you seen the chain emails or blogs where celebrities are shown without makeup? Hideous. The next time the celeb struts the catwalk or poses on the red carpet their flaws are hidden. But you know. You've seen the truth.
Now, you may not want to believe the truth. If fact, you expunge the acne-ridden face with baggy eyes from your memory.
Guess what. I remember. In fact, ten years from now when college sports are ruined, I'll remember exactly where it started down the path of evil. A $6 million signing bonus in Stillwater U.S.A.
Collegiate athletics are big business. We get it. The question that begs to be answered: can college athletics survive the influx of wealthy alumni?
What's stopping Bill Gates from deciding that the University of Washington or Harvard should become the next college football powerhouse?
Would U of W or Harvard decline his generous contribution? Not likely. His funding would result in state-of-the-art facilities. His bankroll might even wake Vince Lombardi from the dead.
Major League baseball decided long ago to screw the small market teams. When Alex Rodriguez is making more money than an entire roster, you have issues.
It is possible a similar scenario is playing out in college. Graduate a billionaire or die by the briefcase.
Here is a fictitious reenactment of OSU athletic director Mike Holder contacting Kansas head coach Bill Self. Remember, Self did what everyone outside of Oklahoma thought he would do. He stayed at Kansas. It was everyone inside the state that thought he was a shoe-in to replace Sean Sutton. And action!
"Hey Bill, Mike Holder here. We have lots of money waiting for you in Stillwater."
"Mike, I'm glad you called but I'm coaching in the national championship game a few hours from now. I think I need to focus on this game and my team," said Self.
"Bill, did you hear me? Money and lots of it," Holder repeats grinning ear to ear with his feet kicked up on a rich mahogany desk.
"Yes Mike, I did hear you. I'd love to talk with you about the state of basketball at my alma mater but I'm a little busy right now preparing for the Memphis Tigers," politely restated Self.
"Bill--you're breaking up--can you hold for a second," says Holder as he halfheartedly covers the phone's receiver and says loud enough for Bill's ears, "Yes Mr. Pickens, I'm sure he knows you are running the show. No. I can't ask him to meet us in Stillwater this afternoon. Some kind of basketball game."
"Fellas, I promise we can talk later this week. Just so you know, I love Kansas and plan to stay here. Wish me luck today," as Self closed his flip phone.
"We got him?" Pickens asks?
"Well, we're offering him a lot of money and I think that's all that matters," concludes Holder.
America and Oklahoma watched the story play out together. The rest of the country liked the dollar figures but wondered why a coach would leave KU for OSU. The local media and fans worked themselves into a frenzy of 'look at the money--he can't possibly turn that cash down' rather than 'let's be honest.'
Had Self bolted Lawrence for Stillwater everyone would have been happy. Except Bill Self. The media was ready to crown Self as the Bob Stoops of basketball. Fans demand the best. No harm in striving for excellence. Fans would have been the proverbial pigs in poop.
Everyone forgets one important tidbit about Bill Self. He isn't a poor vagabond living off of ramen noodles. Just because we would jump from job to job for a 20 percent pay increase doesn't mean Self lives by the same standards. And I for one am glad he didn't assist in ruining college basketball.
Kansas captured eight regular season basketball championships since 1997. Oklahoma State won the title in 2004. Scoreboard.
I'm not sure exactly how Webster defines irony but I imagine it goes something like this.
Oklahoma State failed in its attempted heist of Self. Now it turns the attention to finding a coach who will run a clean, respectable program. Isn't this the same team that leaked dollar figures while Kansas was still playing ball?
I imagine this is what Self faced when he advised Holder of his final decision during their face-to-face.
"So Bill, when do you want to hold the press conference announcing you as the new basketball coach of the Cowboys?" asked Holder before Self finds a chair.
"Mike, thanks for having me. Let's talk about a different direction for OSU. I am extremely happy with my situation in Lawrence. I plan to stay at KU for many years to come," says the under spoken Self.
"Thursday at noon sound good? ESPN, Fox Sports and Sports Illustrated are in town. I told them all about your signing bonus," says Holder. "It's huge, did I mention that?"
"I really appreciate everything OSU has done for me and my family but I respectfully decline the job. I have a list of coaching candidates I think would do a wonderful job. Would you like to look at it?" says a now uncomfortable Self.
"Here is the contract. Sign it on the dotted line. Or on the top or side or back. Whatever," explains Holder.
"Mike, thanks for your time. I really have to get back to KU. We have some of the nation's top recruits coming in next week." Self walks to the door.
"Bill, don't do this to me. All my eggs are in your basket. I have no backup plan," exclaims Holder.
(Door shuts. Self is gone and Holder frantically tosses papers around his desk.)
"I wonder if Scott Sutton will return my call."
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