His resignation as head basketball coach at Texas Tech last night made me pause and reflect on the man and his legacy. Was I too hard on him? Was I unfair to him? Did I misunderstand his methods and his motives?
Naw, the guy was a bully and a blowhard and a bastard—a thoroughly disgusting jerk. He got away with it because, it was said, he was a man of honor and honesty.
B.S. He got away with it because (early in his career) he won and won big. Indiana University officials sold their souls because winning basketball games brought their school attention and kept it from being the laughingstock of the Big Ten in every sport. Knight did it by pushing himself and everyone around him harder than anyone had ever pushed anyone in college basketball before.
That was good—for awhile. But pretty soon other coaches were putting in the same hours. Others were as dedicated. Others could draw up plays. Others were more forward-thinking and more flexible. And because other coaches didn’t throw temper tantrums (and balls, and chairs), and didn’t punch, choke, threaten, belittle and humiliate their players, because they didn't try to reduce them to tears, soon the biggest high school stars in the country were avoiding Bobby Knight and Indiana. End of dynasty.
Look at his last teams at Indiana, and his recent teams at Texas Tech: not a superstar in the bunch. Superstars went elsewhere. In the last 20 years it was the guys with B- games who chose Bobby Knight, hoping that his reputation was true, that he could bring out the best in them.
I’ll finish here by labeling Knight a lying hypocrite. He praised teamwork above all else: but he’s leaving his team with 10 games left in the season. He downplayed individual accomplishment: but now that he’s the winningest coach in collegiate basketball history (902 with Army, Indiana and Texas Tech) he can walk away from his responsibilities. He stressed loyalty: but he’s bailing out on a three-year contract extension he signed just five months ago. He told his players to play through pain: but his coaching buddy Pete Newell is quoted as saying, “He is worn out.”
Knight preached that you have to earn your success in life: but it was prearranged that his son, Pat, be the next Texas Tech head coach. Pat has worked for his father as an assistant for years. His only head coaching experience came with the "Wisconsin Blast" (the Wisconsin Blast???) of the International Basketball Association. I'm already looking for Blast memorabilia on e-Bay. A hoodie would be nice.
Bobby Knight leaves behind a team that is 12-8 and in sixth place in its conference.
The Knight sycophants and apologists and toadies are singing his praises today. I come to bury Bobby, not to praise him. Good riddance.
Let me close by resurrecting this “chart” from The Onion, from when Knight was fired by IU.