Former Indiana coach Bob Knight is obviously known as, well, that: The legendary former Hoosiers coach with three national titles, a 1984 gold medal, 902 NCAA Division I basketball wins and, at the height of his powers -- before his eventual controversial dismissal from Indiana in 2000 -- a rigorous, discipline-based cult of personality the state of Indiana wholeheartedly embraced.
Which is exactly why the last 12 years have been so thoroughly awkward. Knight moved on -- first to Texas Tech, then to the ESPN airwaves -- without ever seeming to care one iota for the basketball program he built or the university that housed it for the previous 30 years of his life. At first, a clean split was understandable. Lately, though, despite the repeated efforts of Indiana coach Tom Crean and athletic director Fred Glass -- including and up to an IU athletics Hall of Fame ceremony honoring the coach himself -- the former coach has refused to budge.
In the meantime, Indiana fans eager to see Knight back in Assembly Hall, red sweater and all, have looked on in horror -- and by “horror” I mean “at least marginal annoyance” -- as Knight has strengthened his ties with a less well-known portion of his basketball past: His time at Ohio State.
The latest development? This weekend, OSU announced it had created a “lifetime achievement” category for OSU alums that go on to great achievement in their post-Columbus careers. Its first honoree? None other than Knight:
Because of those coaching accomplishments, Knight will be inducted into the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame this fall in the lifetime achievement category, the university announced yesterday.
“Our basketball program is thrilled with this recognition of coach Knight,” Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. “I know being inducted into the Athletics Hall of Fame this year is something that will mean a great deal to him.”
In February of 2011, Ohio State coach Thad Matta said he had received lessons (and a defensive drill) from “The Master.” Said lessons came just a few days before Ohio State put an absolute smackfest on Indiana, and Matta didn’t disclose them until his postgame press conference, which some Indiana supporters read as arch psychological warfare against Crean specifically and the fan base generally. (One writer called it a “scud missile right past Tom Crean’s ear.”)
If there was a message there, whether intentional or not, it was similar to the one being sent this weekend: Knight has no problem being inducted in various Halls of Fame, and his cell phone does indeed work.
He just wants nothing to do with Indiana University. And he never forgets a grudge.