John Stevens is a featured writer for RTC. His column appears on Tuesdays throughout the season.
So of course now there’s speculation that Bob Knight is headed to yet another school where all he’ll have to do is change the logo on his red sweaters and he’s good to go. I obviously don’t know if he’ll end up taking the position, but despite Knight’s feeble attempt to downplay the issue, I think we can say for sure that he’s considering it.
Note how the initial reports stated that “a friend” of Knight’s stated that he was interested in the job. Ok, fine. But the General’s response to this? He didn’t say anything about whether or not he’s talked to friends about the job, he never said anything about how his friends would NEVER talk to local media about Knight’s speculation over a job, he never said anything about how he flatly didn’t want that job. In fact, he’s made it a point to reiterate his previous statement of “I never said I wouldn’t coach again, I’d be interested if the right situation came along,” though he adds that he hasn’t had any contact with anyone “at Georgia” about that particular vacancy. “I haven’t talked to anyone from Georgia about it” is not an answer to the question. “Are you thinking about taking a job that an alleged friend of yours said you were interested in?” Woodward and Bernstein would call that a non-denying denial. Seems like Knight’s had contact with SOMEONE or else he’d be angrier and more direct in his lack of interest. And he’d most certainly have this “friend” publicly flogged.
Another interesting wrinkle is the timing of this Pat Summitt situation, with her 1000th win coming up sometime soon. Summitt didn’t get it on Monday, but as you likely know, they had Knight, as the all-time-winningest NCAA men’s coach, calling that game with Brent Musberger for ESPN. I wonder how easy that is for Knight to be around. I’m not saying he begrudges Coach Summitt anything, but the worship for the Tennessee coach has increased so much lately ahead of that pending 1000th win. You don’t think a competitive guy like Knight wouldn’t mind a little of that reverence and adoration, himself? To go down as the ONLY NCAA men’s coach to get into the quadruple-figures, and therefore don the implied “best-coach-ever” mantle that comes with a number like that? I think Knight would consider that to be an absolute acquittal and justification for everything he’s ever done, and that might be to tasty a legacy to pass up.
On Monday’s “Tirico and Van Pelt” program on ESPN Radio, the first question Mike Tirico asked Coach Knight was about the possibility of Knight taking the Georgia job. You know Coach Knight’s response (as above). But later on in that interview, in my opinion, came a more telling moment. Mr. Tirico asked Knight about how he communicates with his son Pat after incidents like the one Pat just had down at Texas Tech, and specifically inquired whether the conversation more resembles that of a father-son interaction or if it is more like two coaches talking shop (a great question). In his response, Knight hesitated for a moment, and then stated, “I just can’t stay away from it, Mike…” and explained that he basically let Pat consult him with basketball-related questions from time to time. I don’t blame Pat Knight for this, of course — I mean, who wouldn’t occasionally call up their winningest-NCAA-men’s-coach-ever-dad for some coaching advice if they had the chance? — but does Bob Knight’s response to the Tirico question sound like a man who is ready to leave the coaching profession behind? When your name comes up as a possible candidate for a coaching job and you’re saying things in interviews like “I can’t stay away from it,” no matter how you try to downplay your interest, I’m going to call you on it.
For what it’s worth, I totally agree with rtmsf’s earlier piece about Knight not being a good fit for Georgia (that second photo makes me think I’m personally a GREAT fit for UGA, but I digress). He’d be a basketball coach going to a football school and I can’t see Bob Knight going anywhere where he doesn’t have the biggest office and, as Mel Brooks would say, the biggest schwartz, as it were. And, as Mark Schlabach reported in a phone interview on ESPN.com on Monday night, the current president of the University of Georgia is Michael F. Adams. And who is Dr. Adams good friends with? Dr. Myles Brand, the current president of the NCAA…and the man who fired Knight from Indiana in 2000. Methinks the current UGA administration and Mr. Knight might not see eye-to-eye on a few matters.
But Knight has never been one to back down from a challenge. It might not be the best idea for Knight to go to UGA. It’s also not a great idea to throw chairs across floors, physically threaten your AD, or hurl plants in your office, but that didn’t stop him. Listen, I have no problem with Coach Knight taking the reins at some program. I can’t blame a man who think he still has it in him to achieve excellence — and indeed, further cement his “all-time” status by breaking that 1000-win barrier. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be known as the all-time greatest at what you do. I’d miss his wit on the GameDay set, but who knows, maybe he’ll take this job and be reborn and make everyone forget about Dennis Felton and Jim Harrick. I don’t think it’s the best fit, but he could certainly prove me and rtmsf wrong. In my view, though, despite his attempts to downplay the issue and make it seem like he’s not interested, I think we have a lot of evidence to the fact that he’s either considering the job…or he likes the attention, and at least wants us to think he’s considering it.