Boone Pickens Should Make Bill Self $10 Million Offer
By Jim Weber
With Oklahoma State’s basketball season going down in flames amid seven straight losses after being ranked No. 8 in the country less than a month ago, it’s time for uber-booster T. Boone Pickens to make Kansas head coach Bill Self an “indecent proposal” in the form of a $10 million-per-year contract.
That’s right, $10 million per year. That’s over twice what Self is currently making at KU ($4.75 million/year) and almost three million more than the highest-paid college basketball coach (Coach K at $7.2 million/year). It would also make Self the highest paid coach in American sports (the New Orleans Saints’ Sean Payton currently holds that title at over $8 million per year).
I know it sounds crazy. But Oklahoma State has to do something drastic after seeing a historically great program that most recently excelled under Eddie Sutton in the 1990s and early 2000s not make it past the first weekend of the NCAA tournament since 2005. It can’t settle for the next hot mid-major coach like it did with Travis Ford or even an above-average coach at a major program. The Cowboys need to swing for the fences, and it would be doing so by trying again to bring Self home to his alma mater after OK State failed in 2008.
What’s left to ponder if you are Pickens? Self is one of the greatest college basketball coaches in the game today, if not the greatest. Oklahoma is home for Self and his wife and Okie State is their alma mater. $10 million is an obscene amount of money to pay a college basketball coach - unless you are Boone Pickens. He’s already donated approximately $500 million to the school. The billionaire was originally going to save his donations to Oklahoma State until after his death when a friend convinced Pickens to enjoy the benefits of his contributions.
And while Pickens’ contributions to the football program have led to the Cowboys becoming a consistent Top 10 team, Oklahoma State’s basketball team has floundered under Sean Sutton and now Ford despite money pouring into the hoops program as well.
Success in college football and college basketball, more so than any professional sport, is completely dependent on the head coaches who recruit and teach their players. And while college basketball isn’t as big a deal as college football, you can’t tell me Pickens doesn’t care about the sport. Most recently seen on Gallagher-Iba Arena’s “Kiss Cam” last Saturday, T. Boone started his college career at Texas A&M playing hoops for the Aggies.
Donating $10 million per year to Oklahoma State’s basketball program to pay Self’s contract would be a drop in the bucket for Pickens and, if it landed Self, almost guarantee that the super booster would get to see his alma mater compete for national championships before he passes away.
Granted, Self already turned down a reported $4 million per year deal in 2008 with a whopping $6 million signing bonus. He’s a god in Kansas who loves everything about living and coaching in Lawrence. A friend of mine that covered KU basketball for the Kansas City Star has told me that Self wouldn’t leave Kansas under any circumstance. Period.
But I’m not so sure about that. Everyone has a price and if Oklahoma State offered Self a $10 million per year contract to come home, he’d be forced to seriously consider it even if he felt like he was being treated like a million-dollar prostitute, a la Demi Moore in Indecent Proposal.
Because $10 million per year is an entirely different ballpark than Oklahoma State’s previous offer and what Self is making now. As Chris Rock would say, Self would go from being rich to being wealthy. Now just 51, he could accumulate the kind of wealth over the rest of his coaching career that wouldn’t just make sure his kids never have to work, but entire generations of his family.
Plus, there’s only so long a coach stays at one place before he wants a new challenge that rejuvenates him. Every coach loves the idea of a rebuilding project, and it has to pain Self to see his alma mater floundering the way it is now. Think he’d never change his mind after turning down Oklahoma State in 2008? Look no further than Self’s predecessor at Kansas, Roy Williams, for proof of the contrary. Williams rejected North Carolina when his alma mater came calling in 2000 only to return to Chapel Hill three years later after the Matt Doherty debacle.
Bill Self has made it clear he wants to stay at Kansas for the rest of his career and it’s possible no amount of money would make him leave KU. After all, Mr. “Ah Shucks” would hate being disloyal to Kansas and receiving the wrath of Jayhawk fans like Old Roy did, as Self would be booed mercilessly ever time he walked back into Phog Allen Fieldhouse. But Pickens should still try luring Self back to Stillwater. Because if he left Kansas, it would be for home, his alma mater, a new challenge and, oh yeah, a ridiculous amount of money.
So if Pickens channels his inner Robert Redford, just don’t be surprised if Self changes his mind and wakes up one morning bathing himself in cash.