Now the fun begins.
It has been more than six months since Coach Bob (no longer Bobby) Knight was booted out of Indiana University by an all too trigger-happy administration and community. Knight received a second chance last week when Texas Tech, one of the nation’s most corrupt athletic schools, took a chance and hired him in an effort to rejuvenate an ailing basketball program.
As a wise person once asked, What about Bob? What will happen to coach Knight? Will Texas Tech be a vacation from his problems, or will past demons haunt him forever? There are a number of ways that this little drama in Lubbock could play out. Kind of like a “choose your own adventure” novel.
Plot one: The tarnished Knight rides into town and saves the day, redeeming his career and clearing his name while bringing Texas Tech into the top echelon of the Big 12 conference. Along the way, he is finally seen as the true humanitarian that he is, and all of the small children of Lubbock rejoice for having a new role model. Texas Tech, meanwhile, will enjoy an increased graduation rate from the basketball program and respect for the Texas Tech program will grow by leaps and bounds. Lubbock is renamed Knightville and a statue of him is erected in town square. When he retires, the University gives him an honorary degree hailing him “Supreme Ruler of the Universe and Friend to All.”
Plot two: Knight walks into his first practice and realizes that he is, in fact, in purgatory having to spend the next five years of his life paying for his past transgressions. The team doesn’t respond to his fiery nature and as a result, he lasts 37 hours, his contract being canceled after he chokes the local cow-tipping and beer-chugging champion, who happens to be his point guard. On the way out of town he throws a chair through the Chancellor’s window and sets fire to a Stetson. Knight will later claim he saw someone in the house looking for a place to sit and was simply helping out.
Knight leaves Lubbock in shame, not having had a chance to clear his name or improve the Texas Tech basketball program. He takes a job as an assistant manager at Pepboys in Topeka and becomes regional salesman of the year. After a ten-year absence from college hoops, Knight is hired by ESPN Classic to host a show spotlighting Oregon sports heroes.
Plot three (and the most likely scenario): Knight arrives in Lubbock and gets off on the wrong foot by making fun of the city. The townsfolk write numerous letters to the University about their displeasure with the coach. Things die down after Knight takes Tech to a 7-4 pre-conference record. Attendance at games reaches an all-time high as Tech makes a good showing in conference play and finishes tied for sixth in the Big 12, enjoying their first winning season in years. Knight takes Tech to the second round of the conference tournament before losing to Missouri.
Tech misses the Big Dance but makes the little shindig. Knight and the Red Raiders (which sounds suspiciously like a 60s rock group) make it to the third round of the NIT before running into the Wake Forest buzz saw. They finish the season 22-15.
The next season Knight sets a Big 12 record with 48 technical fouls and the Red Raiders win the Big 12 conference tournament, shocking a powerful Kansas team. They enter the NCAA tournament as a five seed and make it to the sweet sixteen, losing a squeaker to a hot Indiana Hoosiers squad. At the post-game press conference, Knight verbally assaults Hoosier coach Mike Davis, gets put on probation by Texas Tech, and is fined $10,000 by the NCAA.
Knight winds up spending eight seasons at Texas Tech, having taken the Red Raiders to the NCAA tournament six times, three Sweet Sixteens and one Final Four. His career mark at Tech winds up at 139 wins and 89 loses. He retires as the all time men’s division two winningest coach.
Fade to black…These are just a few of the possible scenarios for what could happen to Bob Knight over the next few months and years. It is a forgone conclusion that the reality will be more crazy than any possible story that could be conceived by mere mortals. One thing is for sure: Knight already has a wonderful collection of red sweaters to wear this season.
Let’s just hope he knows how to embroider.