TULSA — During Saturday’s off-day press conference at the BOK Center, I asked Kansas coach Bill Self, who’s preparing to face Michigan State on Sunday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, for his reaction to Brad Underwood leaving Oklahoma State (Self’s alma mater) to take the job at Illinois (Self’s previous employer.
“I just heard the news 10 minutes ago. It shocks me,” Self said. “I think it would shock most people, because obviously, Brad was on a roll, I thought, in Stillwater, and a lot of great things had transpired in the short time he’d been there. Without knowing any details, I don’t know what else to say. I mean, congratulate him and that’s certainly not discouraging to Oklahoma State from still moving forward. Because certainly the program is in better shape than it was a year ago. So I’m sure that they’ll — I don’t want to use the word recover — I’m sure that they’ll respond very favorably to this. It is a shock. You know, you see a lot of coaching changes across America, but very rarely do you see one after just one year. But Brad is a really good guy and does a great job. But from the outside looking in, it looked to me like OSU and Brad fit very, very well.”
Self left the University of Tulsa in 2000 for Illinois, where he spent three seasons. The Illini were 78-24 under Self, including two Big Ten co-championships and three NCAA Tournament appearances.
I asked Self if Illinois was a sleeping giant.
“Well, Illinois is a great basketball job,” Self said. “I was there. There’s no other way to look at it. It’s one of the better jobs in the Big Ten if you look at recruiting base and institution location, exposure, budget. There’s a lot of things about it that are very, very attractive.”
Underwood was in Stillwater less than one year. The Cowboys on Friday completed their season with a 92-91 loss to Michigan in the NCAA Tournament regional in Indianapolis and finished the season with a 20-13 record.
Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder was unavailable for immediate comment Saturday.
The Franchise will have more on this story as it develops.