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ISSUE 120 VOL 9 PUBLISHED 12/1/2006

Inside the Lines: Not a teacher, but a bully

By Matt Tiano
Sports Editor

Friday, December 1, 2006

I apologize, but I have to jump on the bandwagon.

I have to do so because I am not a brown-nosing ESPN analyst whose "analysis" revolves around seeking interviews and support from the nation's most controversial college basketball coach.

Texas Tech Head Coach Bob Knight has not learned his lesson since being run out of the University of Indiana after choking a player during a 1997 practice.

From a professional standpoint, there is one rule in coaching: There is a fine line between physical contact between coach and player, especially contact that is an act of intimidation.

The video has been played a multitude of times. In a game earlier this November, Knight angrily slapped a player on the neck and said, "Look at me when I'm talking to you."

This takes us to the irrational responses shown by every potential onlooker. Take for instance Texas Tech's athletic director Gerald Myers, who said, "Coach Knight did not slap Michael." He went on to say, "Coach Knight quickly lifted Michael's chin up and said, 'Hold your head up and don't worry about your mistakes. Just play the game.'"

For those of you that are bad lip readers, here's what really occurred: Knight mixed in a load of profanity, in addition to slapping his player. A student-athlete. A player that most likely will take lessons learned from Bob Knight and the Texas Tech basketball program not into the NBA, but into another career and another life, hopefully free of ridicule.

The player and his parents indicated that Knight did nothing wrong. This shouldn't come as a surprise, as the player obviously enjoys his playing time and the parents certainly enjoy the full-ride scholarship. Any backlash towards Knight and both would be threatened.

Knight preaches discipline, or so he says. This type of act not only is extremely inappropriate, it contradicts his entire philosophy.

And then there were various ESPN pundits, who claimed that "this is coaching," and that we will see this same type of thing "hundreds" of times this season.

This is not coaching. This is harassment. These irrational acts simply do not occur, at least not as regularly as these idiots would say. If one such incident does come about from another coach, expect to see uproar and a deserved punishment.

Many will also say that the focus on the current issue is only a manifestation of Knight's history. I wholeheartedly agree. In fact, his latest outburst only suggests that Knight will never learn his lesson or right from wrong.

We remember the chair incident and the infamous choke. We are reminded of the 1988 NBC interview in which Knight said, "I think that if rape is inevitable, relax and enjoy it." In 1994, Knight head-butted a player on the bench. In 2000, Knight choked a University of Indiana student after he said, "Hey Knight, what's up?" In 1993, he kicked his own son and assistant coach during a sideline rage.

Why Texas Tech hired a bully for a basketball coach is beyond me. I suppose winning somehow overshadows the importance of safety and the pain of a sore jaw. While Red Raider supporters will state that Knight has steered the program in the right direction, Knight has failed to lead his team to a Sweet 16. If mediocrity and abusive outbursts is what Texas Tech basketball is all about, then Knight is the perfect man for the job.

Somehow, Knight's name overshadows his irresponsible behavior. As a result, the coward is able to avoid serious punishment.

The best basketball coaches are those who are teachers. Teachers don't slap students. Teachers don't yell and scream at students. Teachers are not intimidators or bullies. Bob Knight is not a teacher. Don't let ESPN convince you otherwise.

Knight has wracked up 832 collegiate wins and is closing in on Dean Smith's career record. Knight's teams at Army, Indiana and Texas Tech have always been so scared of underperforming, they blocked out like none other. And man, did they ever play disciplined defense. If you didn't, you could expect to be choked, slapped or forcefully reprimanded.

Herein lies the problem. This is not about Bob Knight. It's about collegiate athletics, and especially those that are played on a national stage. It's about right and wrong. You cannot slap a player. You cannot touch a student who happens to be a very good basketball player.

Unless, of course, you're Bobby Knight.

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