There are many good stories in the conference, but one of those stands out this week and that is the resignation of Bobby Knight from Texas Tech. One of the most polarizing figures in the history of sports, Knight said he was tired and that it seemed like the right time to hand over the job to son, Pat Knight. Many question the coach on leaving so soon after he got 900 wins, but I do think his main concern was making sure that his son had the job before anything changed in the Texas Tech administration.
As for Knight’s legacy, the opinions on this subject are vastly different. I see him as a walking contradiction in some ways, but the majority of my analysis on his career would be positive. On ESPN alone, there is disagreement as Pat Forde calls Knight a hypocrite while the coaches of the game call him a legend. Whatever your opinion may be, the judgment on “the General” seems to depend on your view of how kids should be coached and/or influenced into becoming adults. Knight did it in a very militaristic fashion. That style worked for tons of people a generation or two ago, but those numbers have changed in the last 20 years. In the TV/YouTube world we live in now, footage of Coach Knight yelling at a player or berating a media member put an image in many a fan’s head that defined him as a bully and a bad man. We don’t tend to see the stories covering how most all of the kids who played for him swear by the man or how he was such a positive influence on the game of basketball.
At the end of the day, Knight’s main responsibility was to his university and the kids that he coached, and I think he did a great job for many years in that regard. Treating people well who are not directly affiliated with you-the media, NCAA Tournament workers, etc.-was a problem for Knight, but it is not the only aspect on which you should judge some one. I hated the way he acted at times, but you have to look at the whole picture. Bob Knight truly emphasized the “student-athlete” during his entire tenure in coaching. There were never any recruiting violations, academic concessions, or questions about the behavior of his kids. That fact may not resonate across the board in America like it used to, but I do believe those qualities mean a lot in an age where some coaches resemble used-car salesmen more than they do teachers.
- Patrick Snow