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Barry Hinson's story moves on to the next chapter

After serving under Bill Self at Kansas, Hinson, who could win a national title in the next few days, will return as a head basketball coach.
by Jenni Carlson Published: March 30, 2012

Barry Hinson hasn't coached a game or overseen a practice or recruited a player in four years.

But earlier this week, he scored a darn good mid-major head coaching gig.

And by early next week, his current employer could be a national champion.

Talk about a charmed life.

That seems to be the way things go for Hinson. The man from Marlow went from high school coach to college head coach in less than five years. Then after he got fired four years ago, he landed at one of college basketball's powerhouse programs, Kansas.

He has been Bill Self's right-hand man ever since.

Sure, as director of external affairs and then as director of operations, Hinson wasn't allowed under NCAA rules to coach or recruit. But if you watch the Jayhawks in the Final Four this weekend, you're sure to see Hinson on the bench. Front row. Next to the scorer's table. Always near Self.

There are definitely worse lots in life than riding shotgun with Billy the Kid.

“He rescued me when I needed to be rescued,” Hinson said Wednesday during his introduction as the new coach at Southern Illinois.

Self is no small part of Hinson's charmed life. The two met at Oklahoma State when Self was playing for the Cowboys and Hinson was a coaching hopeful. Hinson got his first job at Stillwater Junior High, then worked as an assistant at Stillwater High and Edmond Memorial, which just happens to be Self's alma mater, before becoming the head coach at Tulsa Bishop Kelley.

When Self landed the head coaching job at Oral Roberts in 1993, Hinson was one of his first hires.

Four years later, when Self moved up to be the head coach at Tulsa, Hinson replaced him as ORU's head coach.

Another opportunity at Southwest Missouri State — now known as Missouri State — followed, and for nearly a decade, Hinson had one of the best mid-major programs in the country. Eight of his nine teams had winning records. Three of them had RPIs that normally land a team a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

But none of his teams ever made the NCAA Tournament. Not as the Missouri Valley Conference champ. Not as an at-large selection.

In the spring of 2008, that cost Hinson his job.

For more than six months, he sat at home, waiting for the phone to ring and driving his wife nuts.

“When you actually take every grocery ad and put down a schedule of which grocery stores to hit on what day,” Hinson said, “that's the time when you need to get another job.”

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by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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