Kansas men’s basketball coach Bill Self, who had been on vacation with his wife Cindy since the end of the summer school session July 29, attended his first KU football practice of the 2022 preseason Wednesday morning at the practice fields outside Memorial Stadium.
The Jayhawk football team has been working out daily the past week and a half in preparation for the opener against Tennessee Tech set for 7 pm, Sept. 2 at Memorial Stadium.
“I’m impressed. It’s the first time I’ve been over here (this season),” Self said in an interview with KU football and basketball radio play by play announcer Brian Hanni which was posted on the official Kansas men’s basketball Twitter account.
Self, set to enter his 20th season as KU’s hoops coach, was able to visit with second-year football coach Lance Leipold a bit at practice — one in which the players scrimmaged in pads.
“The organization, the positivity, the energy, all those things are big positives,” Self stated of football under Leipold, whose first KU team went 2-10.
“The way we started last year … we saw improvement throughout the year (when KU beat Texas then lost to TCU and West Virginia by a combined nine points to close the season). Even when we were beaten up late in the year we were still playing our best ball. Of course we got the huge win in Austin,” Self added of a 57-56 win over the Longhorns on Nov. 13. “That’s a sign the guys are buying in and getting better.”
Self noted that “there’s excitement about the new guys (19 were added through the portal to go with the incoming freshman class). There’s excitement whether it be with Neal (Devin, running back) or Logan (Kenny, defensive back) or whoever of the returning guys.
“We’ve got some guys out there that can not only play, but start at many other Big 12 institutions. We are gaining on it. We are not going to be outworked. We are not going to be outcoached,” Self stated.
KU, of course, is anxious to put a winning team on the field. The program’s last season over .500 was in 2008 when KU went 8-5.
“Of course I’m selfish for our men’s basketball program to do well,” Self said. “We should never have to sacrifice any (program) for another to do well but we haven’t seen the potential of this place until football gets going like it can.
“Of course it can’t get going unless people buy in. Lance has got all the players to buy in, administration, staff everybody else to buy in. Until the fans also buy in it’s going to be a much more difficult process. It’s chicken or the egg. Do you wait until you win to come (to games) or do you come to help em win? I think the latter is definitely the way this program needs it in order to build it quicker,” Self noted.
Hanni reminded Self of the last spring football game in which KU basketball player Chris Teahan, a former quarterback at Rockhurst High School, put on the pads and completed a 65-yard TD pass to Lawrence Arnold.
Asked if any current basketball player could play football, Self said: “Well, if it was lacrosse, KJ (Adams, soph forward) could do it. Football… my guys look tough and act tough. When it gets down to it, I don’t know how many of them want to go across the middle. I think there’d be a lot of alligator arms,” he said, laughing.
“If I was going to pick any guys on our team to be a prospect he would have to be the one,” Self added of Adams, 6-7, 225 from Austin, Texas. “The best prospect we (ever) had was Frank (Mason, point guard) because Frank could have gone to Virginia Tech or wherever and been a DB (defensive back). If you’ve got natural God-given talent you’ll figure it out some way shape or form. Hopefully our guys are athletic enough at least they’d be wanted, but I guarantee you none of them are gonna play,” Self added.
Self had a busy day supporting KU’s fall sports Wednesday. He also spoke with the KU soccer team prior to its first exhibition of the season. The Jayhawks are set to meet Arkansas at 7 pm, Wednesday, at Rock Chalk Park.
KU’s basketball players will return to campus for the start of school on Aug. 22.