The Kansas Jayhawks won a pivotal road game against the Kansas State Wildcats and took sole possession of the Big 12, by upending the Wildcats, 59-55. It was the 16th consecutive win for the Jayhawks and the first time that Bill Self had defeated Bruce Weber since Weber took over the Kansas State program in late March of 2012.
Although this was the first time that Self and Weber have faced each other on the sidelines, their paths have crossed during their careers.
In 2003, Self took over at Kansas when Roy Williams bolted for the head coaching job with the North Carolina Tar Heels. Weber replaced Self as the Illinois Fighting Illini head coach and had instant success with Self’s players. In 2005, Weber led Illinois to a 37-2 record and a National Championship appearance. His team, which included the likes of Dee Brown, Deron Williams, and Luther Head fell to Williams’ Tar Heels in the championship game.
However, despite his early success at Illinois, Weber was constantly reminded of Self’s impact on the program and infamously held a burial ceremony in the Illini locker room, where he wore all black and symbolically put to rest the memory of Self and Self’s program at Illinois.
Meanwhile, Self continued to improve upon what Williams had built at Kansas and put his own mark on the historic program by winning a National Championship in 2008 and making it back to the national championship game last season. Self was applauded last season for getting his Jayhawks to the Final Four, which many experts thought was his finest coaching job to date.
Now that Self and Weber will meet twice a year as in-state conference rivals, the competition is sure to heat up. However, Kansas has won eight consecutive Big 12 titles and a National Championship during Self’s tenure. Weber on the other hand was let go at Illinois this past season and is now chasing Self and the Jayhawks in the Big 12.
The first head-to-head meeting going to Self on Tuesday night and Self continues to prove that there really is no rivalry as far as Kansas is concerned. Moreover, when they face off again in Lawrence, Ks. later in the season it will most likely be with the Jayhawks on top of the Big 12 once again.
Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter: @CoachDeSalvo