“He's never forgotten where he came from,” Mike de la Garza said of Self. “He's the same guy that we have always known. Success has not changed him.
“He's definitely a unique individual.”
After all, it would've been easy for Self to become disassociated from Oklahoma.
Even though he spent much of his college coaching career in Oklahoma — Oklahoma State assistant, 1986-93; Oral Roberts, 1993-97; and Tulsa, 1997-2000 — he's been gone for more than a decade. Plus, his greatest career success has come north of the Oklahoma border.
At Kansas, Self has one of the top jobs in the country at one of the best programs in college basketball. He has a winning percentage that is better than any other coach in Jayhawk history, including Roy Williams, Larry Brown and the inventor of the game of basketball, James Naismith. He won one national title and played for another. He lands top-notch recruits. He produces NBA-caliber players.
“He's really at the zenith of college basketball,” de la Garza said.
Hard to argue that.
But Self remains strongly connected to his home state. While the evidence is growing that he may never coach again in Oklahoma — he has signed a long-term contract that would keep him at Kansas until at least 2022 — he is still proud to be an Oklahoman. That's why this Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame induction means something significant to Self.
Even though it's unlikely to be his last hall of fame, it's sure to always be a favorite.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.