We're going to talk more about last night's game eventually, but first I think it's necessary to take a brief look at how folks are reacting to the big news that was creepily broken by Rece Davis last night.
First things first, I don't like Bob Knight. I can't foresee any situation in which I will be forced to work or be in the same room with him, so I'm not scared to say it. I grew up not liking Bob Knight because the other people in my family didn't like Bob Knight, and I decided I still didn't like him after I reached the point where I was able to form my own opinions.
I do still love the "game face" bit though.
I always saw Knight the same way I see Hannibal Lector from The Silence of the Lambs: you don't care for who he is or what he's done (choking kids/wearing dead people's faces), but if you're at the same party or bar, you really want him to like you. Knight seems like the type of guy you could drink and laugh and have a great time with all night, and still come away not liking him.
So I suppose it should come as little surprise that I side with most of what was written in Pat Forde's incontestably ballsy column.
So now Knight takes his record 902 wins and quits. Bobby Petrino was charbroiled for leaving the Atlanta Falcons with three games left and the team at 3-10, but The General surrenders with at least 11 games to go and we're supposed to give him a pass?
I don't think so. Not if there are no health issues attached for him or anyone in his immediate family, and by all indications from those surrounding Knight, there are none. Remember, this is a guy who signed a three-year contract extension in September.
Knight told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal that the timing was largely to benefit his son and successor, Pat.
That's nice for Pat Knight, who has a chance to be a very successful head coach. But what about the four seniors on the Tech roster: leading scorer Martin Zeno, No. 3 assist man Charlie Burgess and reserves Esmir Rizvic and Tyler Hoffmeister? How do they feel about having the last weeks of their college careers turned over to on-the-job training for the coach's son?
You'll hear a lot in the coming days about Bob Knight doing this "on his terms." Of course he did. When has Bob Knight ever done anything that was not on his terms? He is a walking one-way street.
And you have already heard a lot of the leaving "on his terms" talk (Digger), and it's just so remarkably preposterous. Of course he quit on his own terms, everyone who leaves a job after no serious wrong-doing (although I'm far from convinced that nothing but blossoming apathy sparked this) is leaving on his own terms. What part of Bobby Petrino's "cowardly" flee didn't occur on "his own terms?" If these are Knight's "terms," then they're disgraceful. Walking out on four seniors and a team that still has a shot to make the NCAA Tournament with just over a month to go is reprehensible whether you've won 902 or 22 games.
Of course Knight certainly wasn't without his redeeming qualities, something pointed out by John Feinstein, author of A Season on the Brink which chronicled Indiana's 1985-86 basketball season.
"Coach, I'm sorry to interrupt," the boy began. "But I wonder if I could ask you a big favor."
I began reaching for a pen, assuming the youngster wanted an autograph. I was wrong. His name was Garland Loper, and he was 12 years old. He explained to Knight that his father and brother would like to meet him.
"Of course," Knight said. "Where are they?"
Garland pointed across the restaurant.
"You see, Coach, they're both deaf and mute," he explained. "They talk through me. They'd like to say hello to you if it's okay." Knight instantly waved over the two older Lopers. They signed to Garland, who spoke to Knight, telling him how much they loved Indiana basketball and how proud they were of him and his players. Knight was clearly touched by all three. He took down their home address and phone number and sent the entire family Indiana memorabilia and souveniers. He also invited them to a game.
Prior to the game, Knight took the Lopers into the locker room. He introduced them to his players, and then Garland again acted as the family spokesman so he, his dad and his brother could speak to the players. When he was finished, the room was absolutely silent.
"Boys," Knight said as he always did when his team had visitors. One by one, the players lined up to shake hands with the Lopers and introduced themselves.
When the Lopers had left, there was a long silence, and then Knight said, "Boys, I don't ever want to hear again how tough your lives are."
That was his pregame talk.
To this day, everyone on that team with whom I keep in touch remembers that scene.
See, you kind of want to be friends with him now.
And lastly, Texas Tech blog Double T Nation discusses the currently overlooked issue of where the Red Raiders go from here.
So, after all of that, do I believe Knight? On some level I do. Bottom line is that I think Knight really cares about the program and he wanted to give his son a chance. A real chance to coach a program that, so long as these freshmen come through, will eventually have a chance to compete for a Big 12 Title. I know, it's awfully lofty aspirations, but none of the three are good enough to leave early for the NBA, but all are talented. These are four year players who, if they stick around, could do something special if given time.
Perhaps we talk about the legacy that Bob Knight left or if Pat is equipped to do the job after a day or two, once the dust settles. I think we need to give this time to sink in.
Sweet dreams Bobby. Enjoy all the awful puns on your last name for years to come.