Top 50 coaches: No. 6 Bill Self

June, 27, 2014
Jun 27
4:09
PM ET
Editor's note: During the next five weeks, we will reveal the top 50 coaches in college basketball as decided by our ESPN Forecast panel. Today we unveil No. 6: Kansas' Bill Self. On Monday, we release No. 5.

Have you ever actually read the "Rules of Basket Ball"? Everyone is basically aware of basketball's origin story, the same way everyone can quote at least the first few lines of the Declaration of Independence. But the 13 tenets James Naismith outlined at the YMCA International Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1891 are fascinating to actually read.

Naismith's distaste for physicality sticks out. It was an explicit part of his mission: His superior at the Springfield YMCA wanted Naismith to create an indoor "athletic distraction" to keep rowdy students in shape, and he wanted to "make it fair for all players, and not too rough." You can hear that voice -- the voice of a gym teacher who needed his students to blow off steam without killing each other -- in the way the rules are written.

It's often easy to forget that the man who birthed this game unto the world was basically a physical education teacher. It's also easy, given the good doctor's legacy, to forget a more mundane tie: The inventor of the sport was also the first men's basketball coach at Kansas University.

The second coach at Kansas wasn't too bad, either: Forrest Clare "Phog" Allen, whose name adorns Kansas' renowned fieldhouse, was to college basketball what Abraham was to the Old Testament. He played under Naismith. He led the Jayhawks from 1919 to 1956. He coached Adolph Rupp and Dean Smith (and lesser-known Hall of Famers Ralph Miller and Dutch Lonborg). He recruited Wilt Chamberlain. He created the National Association of Basketball Coaches, which eventually created the NCAA tournament.

I write all this because it is an important preface to what follows: By the time his career is over, we might consider Bill Self the best coach in University of Kansas basketball history.

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