Let them have their one shining moment.
They earned it.
Rock Chalk Jayhawk, Kansas.
IIn the end, after the nostalgic hysteria about Coach K's farewell tour had been doused, after the Cinderella shoes worn by Saint Peters' had been put back in the closet, and after No. 8 seed North Carolina came into the championship game as Superdome on Monday night, Coach Bill Self's team was the last one standing in the New Orleans' following Kansas' pulsating 72-69 victory over the Tar Heels.
It was bluer blood over blue blood in one of the historic championship game in NCAA tournament history
Nine--now 10--national championships between them.
The No. 1 and No. 3 winningest programs in college basketball history direct linkage to such iconic college basketball figures such as Dr. James Naismith and Dean Smith.
And now there is Self, with a pair of national championships, which elevates him to an exclusive elite neighborhood.
But there are also some rumblings of a potential storm, which once looked ominous when it first appeared on the Kansas radar three years ago, but under current conditions, may not be more more than a spring time shower.
In case you missed it--and most everyone did or chose to ignore it-- Kansas is nearing the end of a 3-year investigation by the NCAA and FBI for what were once headline making, perhaps career changing, 5 NCAA Level One violations.
Serious stuff, right?
That was then--and in the world of NCAA investigations, the pace of progress is measured in years, not days or months--and this is now.
A new world of free agency, NIL marketing plans designed to give a players a stake at the billon dollar March Madness entertainment table and a growing reluctance by the NCAA to govern has taken over the mood of major college athletics..
Ironically, North Carolina went through a similar NCAA process dealing with far more serious issues involving academic fraud and walked away almost untouched because the entire student community was also offered the same opportunities--thus no NCAA violation
.Kansas officials while outwardly saying they were concerned by the NCAA lf violations in which Self and a Kansas assistant coach were involved, responded last spring by rewarded Self with a life time extension on his contract.
The current chatter is that when the NCAA does make its final ruling--expected within the next several weeks-it will be nothing more than some minor penalties--perhaps a limit on the number of zoom calls Self can make recruiting.
We are joking--we think--about the zoom calls, but no one is talking about anything that could be regarded a serious sanction.
Which leads to the other obvious question.
Is this a big deal?
What we saw through March Madness 2022 was entertainment of the highest quality with the players and coaches playing their roles superbly.
It was--as it almost always is--with this tournament, high drama, developing steadily over a three week period.
Aside from the product shown, does anyone really care how the sausage is made in the high stakes versions of college football and basketball?
Self has filled the seat held by former North Carolina coach Roy Williams very well. He has been in Lawrence for 19 years and has kept the Jayhawks as a Top 10 program.
He has done what was asked to do
He also knows what the expectations are of him" and how hard the task has been.
These (national championships) don't fall from trees,'' he said in the euphoria of Monday night's game. ""I mean, they are hard to get. And so the first one we got and it was great and . And we knocked on the door since, but we haven't been able to punch ticket so to speak.
So I think when they're the all-time winningest program, just by a slight margin, when the inventor of the game was your first coach and when the likes of Adolph Rupp comes from Kansas and Dean Smith comes from Kansas and when Wilt Chamberlain comes from Kansas, the expectations are such where being good is okay but it's not enough.
Nobody's ever put pressure on me that we've got to win another one, but I think I put pressure on myself, knowing that this place deserves more than we've won.''
Now Kansas has won another and there is some dirty laundry in the basket, how it will be taken care of remains an issue, but not an overwhelming one.