Book Reviews

“Bill Self: At Home in the Phog”

Book review at Knup Sports

Tom looks at another sports book. This one is on the Hall of Fame College Basketball Coach Bill Self. Self takes us through his career at Kansas.

Bill Self says he is flawed. He also states he is disorganized. Coach Self likes to listen to other people’s thoughts. All the way from asking Larry Brown if he could be a grad assistant to becoming the coach at Kansas and playing games at the legendary Phog Fieldhouse has played into his success as a college basketball coach.

Every step of the way for Coach Self has proved a few bumps but for the most part he brought success and life into the program. Starting at Oral Roberts University was easy for him as it was near his family and a start as a head coach at 30 years old. After winning there, he took a job 8 miles away with the Tulsa squad and that caused a few problems.

The Roberts family didn’t want him to jump ship and they also felt Tulsa was poaching on their territory. It was the media is Tulsa, Oklahoma that got Bill Self the job with their constant love affair for the job at ORU. More success followed and he got a call from Illinois to be their coach.

This was different. He wanted the job that was in a major conference but for the first time in his life he has to leave his family and friends in Oklahoma and march east to Champaign, Illinois. Bill Self thought the family needed some space and he needed a big time program to lead.

Things went smoothly at Illinois and Coach Self was a winner to the likes that hadn’t been seen in Champaign. He loved his players, his job and the success that went with it. But the inevitable came along. An offer to return to Kansas as the head coach. A place that he started as a grad assistant for Larry Brown. A place that is closer to his parents and family. He couldn’t resist and that caused hard feelings in Illinois.

The book discusses the thought and feeling of his wife along every step of their journey. The joys and difficulties that existed for the family. The get togethers with the assistants and their families. Just plain good times and ugly times throughout their journey.

Coach Self discusses his views on assistant coaches and how he likes them to speak their mind. To give an opinion for his thought process. How they become like family and go through the highs and lows as the head coach except they make much less money.

Now he is the coach at Kansas and felt pressure after two seasons for not winning more as his team lost to Bucknell in the second season and Bradley the following year. He was worried about his job. His longtime friends were always there and many, many times help him deal with it through humorous situations.

But it happened. It all clicked and he became a National Champion coach. He continues to win every year and (this is not in the book) he has more consecutive conference championships than any other coach in collegiate history.

This book is a great read that deals with several game-to-game situations and how they were handled. It is a great read about a humble coach.

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