The phone rang and I picked it up. By the time I put it back in the cradle—I’m old-fashioned, I still keep an old dial-up on hand, in case of storms—I was in a state of “wow!” How could something like this just drop into my lap out of pure friendship? The caller was an old pal, not nearly as old as I, but the relationship has survived longer than a lot of marriages.
I’ll have to employ an old saying here: You could have knocked me over with a feather: Bob Knight is interested in coaching again—and this is where it really got interesting—and he’d like to offer his services to the University of Georgia. The job is open. Damon Evans, the AD, had just fired Dennis Felton, who had been a five-year disappointment, even though his team from nowhere won the Southeastern Conference tournament last winter.
BOB KNIGHT AT GEORGIA! How about that, sports fans?
Knight has only been out of coaching about a year. He had been unceremoniously dismissed at Indiana, then settled in at Texas Tech, which is not one of basketball’s celebrated destinations. After winning 902 games, the college record for men—better than John Wooden, Adolph Rupp or Dean Smith, for instance–he turned the job over to his son, Patrick, and landed—where else?—on ESPN. Just not his kettle of fish, as I saw it, then and now.
It hadn’t been easy, trying to wean himself away from the court. So he had told my friend he was ready again, and he’d like to coach at Georgia, in the SEC. With the talent pool to recruit from in Georgia, he had an upper hand, and he could help the Bulldogs arise from their basketball shame. THEN, he could go away contented. He’s only 66, in the prime of a coaching life.
So I wrote the story, it was played on the front sports page, and the e-mails that resulted ran l5 minutes long—that is, I put my finger on the viewing key and for 15 minutes those blogs fled by in a mood from sneer to joy to exhiliration, but mainly every kind of joy that you can imagine. In the end, the final summation was: If you can get Bob Knight, BRING HIM ON!
That’s where it stands at the moment. The Georgia players were interviewed and they were overjoyed at the prospect. Dr. Michael Adams, the president, diplomatically offered no response. Damon Evans is a young man, 36, to be exact, and there are some who suspect that the AD would prefer a younger coach. But he has yet to make a comment, an∂ that’s the situation at the moment. If Evans follows the will of the Bulldog people, he will find it difficult not to give Bob Knight a long, hard look. Stand by.