Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Knight Wants to Hunt More In Neighbor's Yard

Bob Knight resigned unexpectedly on Monday, turning over the head coaching job at Texas Tech to his son Pat Knight. Sources cited that Knight stepped down because after 42 years of coaching, he "was tired". Texas Tech is in the midst of a difficult season, where an NIT bid might be their only chance.

While Knight will never be remembered for his coaching exploits at Texas Tech, he did a lot to bring stability and respectability to an inconsistent Red Raider program. It gave Knight a chance to start over after Indiana in a place that would be out of the glaring media spotlight he encountered in Indiana.

He came to Texas Tech during a period that saw the coaches in the Big XII improve dramatically. While he found out early on that it is difficult to get top basketball prospects to want to go to Lubbock, Texas, he managed to turn teams that were low on talent into Big XII contenders year in and year out. His teams were ones that you looked at on paper and figured they should be easy wins, and it never really turned out that way.

He will forever be known as one of the top coaches in the history of the college game and certainly the most poloarizing figure to ever grace the hardwood. Bob Knight did it his way and was successful at it. He will be missed in the Big XII, and Texas Tech certainly will not be the same without him.

What lies ahead for Texas Tech is unknown. Pat Knight will take over, and Red Raider fans hope that he is able to do a better job than Sean Sutton, who replaced his father Eddie at Oklahoma State. Texas Tech has a difficult time recruiting, and that was with Bob Knight at the healm. Pat Knight will have a very big challenge in front of him as the program is already short on talent. He is an unproven coach that is getting his first taste of head coaching in a major conference.

This is a period of transition for the Big XII as Oklahoma State has fallen off, Oklahoma is just starting to get back, Kansas State will have major question marks after the season, Texas Tech will surely experience some problems, and many other teams are rebuilding. Kelvin Sampson, Bob Huggins, Billy Gillespie, Eddie Sutton, and Bob Knight have all moved on in the last two years and the conference is still in the rebuilding process. Kansas and Texas remain strong, while Texas A&M should be able to maintain their level under Mark Turgeon. Baylor looks to be a newcomer under Scott Drew and Oklahoma looks to almost be back under Jeff Capel. But after that, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Nebraska, Colorado, Missouri, Iowa State, and Kansas State (after Beasley and Walker go pro) are far from NCAA Tournament programs.

Bob Knight signals the changing of a guard in the Big XII as it now becomes a conference that must rebuild its ranks with top young coaches. That is the direction that Colorado, Iowa State, and Missouri have taken. I believe Oklahoma State and Texas Tech will follow suit in the next few years, because I don't think Sutton and Knight part duex can be successful. Nepotism is rarely a winning strategy.

Bob Knight will be missed, and he leaves Texas Tech with his legacy untarnished. He is one of the great all-time coaches, and possibly the greatest personality. Here's to hoping he doesn't join Eddie Sutton at a bottom dweller in the West Coast Conference.

No comments: