A national college basketball figure reflects on his long and controversial coaching career and responds to critics.
The name “Bobby Knight” has long been synonymous with an aggressive, disciplined style. Many know Knight through clips showing his infamous temper, a trait that led to his firing in 2000 as head coach at Indiana, a job he’d held for a remarkable 29 seasons. But Knight has also been one of college sports’ most successful coaches, and, by his account, an inspiring friend and counsel to players, reporters, younger coaches, and even political acquaintances like Presidents Ford and Bush I. Here we read of Knight’s Norman Rockwellesque boyhood in Ohio; success as a high-school athlete; career as a basketball player at Ohio State; first coaching job at Army at age 24; and ascent to the head coaching position at Indiana six years later. Knight describes his love of fishing, practical jokes, and companionship, not to mention the philosophy that’s made him one of the winningest coaches in NCAA history. Fans will enjoy his recalling of key plays and personalities from games played decades ago, but most piquant is his response to the IU firing. Much of the uproar focused on footage that appeared to show Knight choking a player, though his temper was well known and there’d been dozens of other “infractions”—chair-hurling, the cursing out of refs and secretaries, a tasteless “misquote” in an interview with Connie Chung, the punching of a policeman—that over the years had come to embarrass the school even as Knight remained popular with students and fans. Only mildly repentant, he now insists that his dedication to winning and his tough style were his undoing, and he seems intent on carrying on the Knight tradition at his new coaching assignment, Texas Tech.
Not the definitive, balanced book about Knight that is bound to emerge someday, but one that will intrigue knowledgeable college hoop fans.