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Bobby Knight’s Passing and Legacy

Robert Montgomery (Bobby) Knight, the successful and controversial basketball coach for Indiana University and Texas Tech, died Wednesday. Knight’s family announced his passing on social media.


“The General,” as he was affectionately called, is one of the winningest coaches in NCAA basketball with 902 wins in 42 seasons at Army, Indiana, and Texas Tech. For all his basketball intelligence, zeal and success, he will forever be associated with an angry, combative side.


Knight and his Ohio roots


Born in Massillon, Ohio, he was raised by his school-teacher mom and railroad worker father. His mom, Hazel, knew her son too well. According to his book, “Knight: My Story,” two of his high school friends asked Hazel how excited she was about her son being on TV as Indiana battled Kentucky. Her response? “I just hope he behaves!” (p. 42-43)


Knight attended Ohio State where he was a forward on the 1960 National Championship team. After graduation, Knight’s coaching career took him to Cuyahoga Falls HS (assistant) and then to Army, where he coached from 1963 to 1971.


Hello, Indiana!

But his luck turned when he was at the NCAA tournament in 1971. Again from his book, the IU job opened two weeks prior to the tournament’s start.


In his succinct, honest way, here’s what Knight told the hiring committee after they asked how he’d like the interview format to go:


“If you’ll give me fifteen minutes, I’ll outline what I’ll bring to Indiana to your basketball job, and how I’ll do it. If you like that, I’ll stay [and talk] as long as you want to talk about it. If you don’t like it, move right on to your next candidate and it will only cost you fifteen minutes.” (Pg 111)


Indiana’s version of the hiring was interesting. Also from coach’s book, they were getting ready to open Assembly Hall and wanted a strong group of individuals running the team. Knight was #1 on every committee member’s sheet for who to hire. 


When hired, Knight and committee chairman Bill Orwig went to meet IU’s president, Dr John Ryan. Dr Ryan was a Michigan grad and standout athlete. Coach said in his book:


“If a Michigan guy has the guts to hire an Ohio State guy to coach at Indiana, he’s going to be a great guy to work for!” (Pg 112)


So what can we make of his career at IU? Three National Championships, with perhaps the greatest being his 1976 undefeated team. Throw into the mix Five Final Fours and eleven Big Ten regular season championships.


But one cannot mention Coach Knight without his controversies. And there were many from Neil Reed’s story of being choked by Knight (which started the path leading to his firing from the school) to berating school secretaries (Indianapolis Star, Feb. 4, 2008), assaulting a police officer while with the US National Team during the Pan American Games and various others.


And of course, the chair incident!



Texas Tech

After being fired from IU, Knight landed the job as head coach for Texas Tech. He coached the Red Raiders from 2001 through 2008, taking them to a Sweet Sixteen berth, their first since 1996.


His Tech career brought his overall coaching record to 902 wins, 371 losses for a 70.9% winning percentage!


Knight was inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.


US Men’s National Team

Besides the gold medal he helped the US win at the ‘79 Pan American games, he also grabbed a gold for the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. His squad, led by UNC guard Michael Jordan and Georgetown center Patrick Ewing, not only won gold, but defeated a team of NBA All-stars in every scrimmage game they played!


Son’s last day


But the side the media loved to present was often at odds with what Bob actually did. Ever see him at senior night during the last home basketball game? He would talk about each player and always got emotional. When his son, Patrick, played his last game in 1995, Knight famously added that day: “Patrick Knight is my all-time favorite Indiana player.”

Photo courtesy of Sports Illustrated and

Knight never wanted his softer side to be known to the public. I’ll leave it with Dana Hunsinger Benbow, a reporter for the Indianpolis Star who said it best.


Through the years, Knight did countless, selfless, giving things behind the scenes, but he never wanted publicity. He gave millions of dollars of his own money to help causes of diversity and education. He visited dying fans and helped struggling college students and professors find their way.

He changed the way high school basketball coaches ran defense and drew up plays. He gave teachers inspiration with his focus on academics. He became an idol to diehard fans. He became a revered symbol to men and women of what passion, hard work and grit could produce.

Marla Ridenour, a long-time sports reporter, shared her time with Coach Knight in a story on X about his junior varisty Cuyahoga Falls team.


Bobby Knight left behind a legacy unmatched by possibly any other college basketball coach! Known for great quotes in every press conference, who can forget these two? Never a fan of the 3 point basket or the NBA, Knight once said:

“If the NBA was on channel 5 and a bunch of frogs making love were on channel 4, I’d watch the frogs, even if they were coming in fuzzy.” 

But for those who loved the man, this quote summed up his feelings about those who hated him.

“When my time on Earth is gone, and my activities here are passed, I want [them] to bury me upside down, and my critics can kiss my ass.” — Knight at IU’s Senior Day in 1994.

Coach Knight was 83 and just recently celebrated a birthday.


I am a math teacher in SW Ohio. Born and raised in NE Ohio, I am married with four sons who keep the flame burning for all things Cleveland. I cover soccer, betting, football and anything that focuses on the human side of sports.

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