Friday, October 30, 2009

Coach Knight Tells Indiana to Take a Hike

It wouldn't be like Coach Bobby Knight to show up and have the people who fired him and turned their back on him try to induct him into a phony hall of fame:
Athletic director Fred Glass said Thursday that Knight contacted him directly to decline the invitation. Glass said Knight was concerned that the interest in him would be a distraction from the other six inductees.

On the bright side, at least Knight is being semi-polite about the whole thing ("semi" = the whole not showing up blatantly because he holds a monster grudge against the school part; "polite" = declining via a personal phone call). He could come out and publicly thrash the school instead, you know?

But that wouldn't really fit Knight's character since he became a "new public figure" in his role as an analyst for ESPN. In fact, it was surprising enough to see him not make a scene about the whole lawsuit thing.

Still, for a guy that won three titles (Branch McCracken won two, for those that don't know or want to try and argue the importance of someone else in Hoosier history) and defined Indiana basketball for multiple decades, it's a little depressing to see that he and his former employer can't somehow reconcile. Maybe he can kick it with Bobby Bowden instead -- at least they'll have something to talk about.

The only thing that factors in Knight's thinking is how he was treated in those final days at Indiana. I am giving my nearly useless opinion here, but I would say that Knight probably felt like there was no way he was going to quit and be run out of the school unless someone took the step of firing him; and the only way that was going to happen was if someone used a phony incident to trigger his firing. And what a phony incident it was.

If anyone can still recall the incident, a student was rude to Coach Knight. As an educator and an adult, Knight refused to allow the student to speak to him in a rude manner and he refused to live his life in a protective bubble. He was fired because the university had no other option in light of bad leadership at the top (the late Myles Brand) and no courage to stand up to the rabid sports media of that era (pretty tame as compared to now).

The idea of Coach Knight being at Indiana, associated with Indiana, or a part of the future of Indiana is over. The legacy remains, and it is between him and the kids he coached, not the school and the cowardice of the people who ran the place while he was there. He moved on, has not looked back, and the school should have moved on. It's nice that they want him in their hall of fame. He is bigger than the school, bigger than the honor they're trying to bestow upon him, and only one party in the dispute has held on to their honor and dignity, and that's Coach Knight.

You tell me what kind of world this is where Rick Pitino can keep his job, where John Calipari can be feted and loved at Kentucky, where Bob Huggins can be head coach at West Virginia and where Coach Bobby Knight can be treated like a crazy old man. Who would you rather have teaching your kids?

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