Texas Tech coach Bobby Knight earned his 880th win on New Year’s Day, making him the winningest coach in NCAA men’s basketball history. There can be no question that Knight is one of the sport’s greats from the standpoint of winning games and graduating his players.
But that doesn’t mean he isn’t still a complete jerk.
The Gent graduated from Indiana University in 1998, two years before university president and now head of the NCAA, Myles Brand, gave Knight the ax for violating a “zero tolerance” policy regarding Knight’s unacceptable public behavior. In the years since, any time I’ve traveled the country and mentioned my alma mater, I have almost universally been greeted with comments to the effect of “IU? Oh, Bobby Knight! Don’t throw any chairs!” That is the legacy of Bobby Knight — one of the premier research universities in the country is associated more with the tantrums of a bully than with academic excellence.
The three most popular people in Indiana are Jesus, Larry Bird and Bobby Knight, and not necessarily in that order. The difference between Knight and the others is humility and class. Winning matters, Coach, but so does how you win. That’s a lesson you never grasped nearly as well as a player’s neck.