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Batten Down The Hatches; Knight Returning To Rupp For ESPN

bobby-knightBobby Knight hates Kentucky.  For several years he wouldn’t say the name of the school while doing his ESPN job.  And he’s no fan of John Calipari, either, having said in 2009: “We’ve got a coach at Kentucky who put two schools on probation and he’s still coaching.  I really don’t understand that.”

So we suspect you’ll have an easier time understanding why it’s a big deal for Knight to serve as color analyst for tonight’s ESPN broadcast of Arkansas’ visit to Rupp Arena.  UK fans aren’t likely to roll out the blue carpet for the irascible, lippy ex-Indiana coach.

Rece Davis — who will call the game with Knight — says the whole thing has been “manufactured.”

 

“I don’t see it being anything more than a manufactured issue… I just think to manufacture something out of comments from several years ago, I’m not going to spend a lot of time worrying about it.  I don’t see where it’s really that pertinent anymore…

There could be a vocal minority of people that might yell and boo and scream.  But he has without fail in our SEC travels treated people with tremendous graciousness and has been accommodating for pictures and autographs… People are sometimes surprised when they meet him how gracious and how funny he can be.”

 

Well, sure they’re surprised.  He spent decades being a jerk on and off the court.  This one’s definitely not safe for work, but if you watch these outtakes from a Knight-hosted golf show during his days at IU, you’ll see what a gracious and accommodating fella he can be.

 

Bobby Knight Golf Outtakes

 

As The Lexington Herald-Leader’s John Clay wrote yesterday: “I am sure the Big Blue Nation will treat ESPN color analyst Bob Knight with dignity and respect when the legendary Indiana coach visits for Thursday night’s Kentucky-Arkansas game.  After all, hasn’t Knight always treated people the way he would want to be treated?”

Exactly, like the last rant in the clip above.

ESPN had to put out a statement supporting its decision to assign Knight to a Kentucky game:  ”We expect Bob Knight to provide fans with expert and informative analysis as he has done on other game assignments.”

Look, typically we’re not supportive of booing and jeering, but if Wildcat fans let Knight have it for his insults over the years and his once childish refusal to say “Kentucky” on the air, well, so be it.  He’s earned it.

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SEC Headlines – 5/12/11 Part One

1.  Florida’s basketball team won’t be making an international trip this summer as expected.

2.  Coming off a 6-7 season, many ESPN’ers think Georgia has a good shot at bouncing back big.

3.  Former Georgia and Kentucky basketball coach Tubby Smith says he’s free of prostate cancer after surgery.  Best wishes to the ex-SEC coach.

4.  The UK men’s basketball team posted a 3.14 GPA for the spring semester.  (Take that, Bob Knight.)

5.  This writer says Kentucky had a better NBA outcome than Vandy — UK lost two players to the draft, Vandy none — and that Tennessee basketball is likely doomed until 2015.

6.  The father of South Carolina O-line coach Shawn Elliott is trying to recover from injuries sustained when a car left the road and crashed into him while he was gardening.  Our best to Charles Elliott.

7.  Former Tennessee point guard Melvin Goins has ended his attempt to play football for the Vols.

8.  Derek Dooley believes continuity and stability — for the first time since 2008 — will help his team.

9.  Vanderbilt forward Darshawn McClellan — who redshirted last year and graduates tomorrow — will play as a senior at Louisiana-Lafayette.

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SEC Headlines 4/24/2011

1. Kentucky spring football game – QB Morgan Newton stands out.

2. Coach Joker Phillips really likes his football team.

3. Position-by-position breakdown of the 2011 Kentucky team.

4. Departing star Randall Cobb looks forward to an NFL future.

5. LSU’s Patrick Peterson has the talent to be the first player taken in this weeks’ NFL draft.

6. Petersons’ strengths and weaknesses.

7. Marcell Dareus meets Sports Science.

8. Plenty of love for Mark Ingram and A.J. Green in the upcoming NFL draft.

9. Georgia lineman Clint Boling projects as a potential second or third round pick this week.

10. Thoughts on dueling quarterback competitions at both Alabama and Auburn.

11. “I’m just not sure, with all that talent out the door at Auburn, that the starting quarterback is going to make that big of a difference this fall.”

12. Jim Kleinpeter breaks down the QB competitions at seven different SEC schools.

13. How does Tennessee football compare to a year ago?  “Light years ahead,” says coach Derek Dooley.

14. Florida’s Janoris Jenkins cited for marijuana possession – again. How will coach Muschamp respond?

15. A countdown to the NFL draft with a series on the best Florida player taken in each round of the draft.

16. Expect at least 15 players from the Sunshine State to get drafted.

17. Shuffling the Ole Miss football schedule.

18. Dan Mullen likes the idea of co-coordinators.

19. Bob Knight’s fascination with Kentucky basketball.

Extras

20.  How Big 10 football lost its way – NFL draft stats tell the story.

21. Potential trades at the NFL draft involve SEC talent.

22. 1981 – the year that everything changed.

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ESPN Doesn’t Share Knight’s Views On Kentucky

Now that Bob Knight has apologized for making things “personal” with Kentucky — not for making false statements, mind you — his bosses at ESPN are trying to distance themselves from The General’s comments.

Executive VP of production at ESPN Norby Williamson said yesterday via statement that “Bob Knight’s comments do not reflect the opinions of and are not endorsed by ESPN.”  He added, “We have communicated to him our disappointment and welcome his apology.”

Over the weekend, Knight claimed at a speaking engagement that UK’s five starters from their 2010 Elite Eight squad “had not been to class” during that spring semester which he tied to “that one-and-done philosophy.”

Only three of UK’s starters in the NCAA tourney were one-and-doners and it’s pretty hard to believe that not one of those five players went to a single class for an entire semester.

Do some professors take care of athlete’s grades?  Certainly.  But not all.  And if UK’s issues were as rampant as Knight suggested, you can bet a few Kentucky professors would have gone public — even anonymously, if necessary — to shine a light on such the problem.

Knight hates John Calipari and he apparently has had issues with Kentucky basketball over the years, too.  So in his attempt to rail against “that one-and-done philosophy” he hates, he just tossed out some unverified, over-the-top claims about the program and coach most associated with one-and-doners.

The result?  The suits at ESPN have allowed Knight to give a pseudo apology via statement.  So once again the bully goes unpunished and his behavior is only reinforced. 


Sidenote — Those are weasels in the photo at left.  I thought it an appropriate photo to run with this story.

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Vitale To Big Blue Nation: Relax!

Earlier today I said I wanted to see how Dick Vitale would handle Bob Knight’s latest rip job on John Calipari’s Kentucky program.  Well, the answer is in.

This afternoon, Vitale tweeted the following to UK’s Big Blue Nation fanbase:


“The BBN is up in arms over the General’s comments @ a dinner – RELAX as he really is a guy that can not TOLERATE the 1 & done rule.”


Oh.  Well. 

If Dickie V says so.

Which means, I suppose, that since I can’t tolerate Bob Knight it’s alright for me to make up things about him, right?  Cool.


Knight was on the Grassy Knoll in ’63.

Knight shaves his nether parts.

Knight once shot a man for snoring too loud.


Nope.  That just doesn’t feel right. 

You see, just because I can’t TOLERATE someone or something, it doesn’t make it okay for me to make outrageous, unverified claims about him or it.

Vitale’s “don’t get mad at The General” response just doesn’t wash.

At least fellow ESPN’er Jay Williams told KentuckySportsRadio.com today that Knight owes UK an apology and that their shared employer should try to force one out of him.

“I think ESPN should come to the table and do something about the comment because obviously it’s very demeaning to the players that play at Kentucky,” Williams said.  He added later: “I think those comments were wrong.  I think he does owe the fans at Kentucky an apology, but Bobby Knight is Bobby Knight and I’m sure he’s not going to give that apology.”

So what’s more likely: Knight apologizes or ESPN shows Williams the door?

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Knight Claims UK Starters Skipped Class Last Spring

Bobby — now Bob — Knight is at it again.  He’s once again hurling verbal hand grenades at Kentucky and John Calipari, this time in connection to the use of one-and-done players. 

Knight said over the weekend that the Cats’ five starters in the 2010 NCAA Tournament did not attend class during that spring semester.

The exact quote:

“Kentucky, year before last, started five players in the NCAA Tournament that had not been to class that semester,” Knight said.  “And that’s that one-and-done philosophy that we have now.”

And here’s the video:




Here’s the most obvious problem with Knight’s assertion: Kentucky didn’t have five one-and-done starters last year.  Patrick Patterson was a junior (who graduated in three years).  Darius Miller was a sophomore.

Whoops.

Naturally, UK athletic director Mitch Barnhart took offense to Knight’s claim in a strongly-worded press release that called out the former Indiana and Texas Tech coach by name.

“The University of Kentucky, our student-athletes and their families take great offense to the blatantly erroneous comments made by Bob Knight,” the statement read.  “Academic performance has always been a priority at UK and it’s unfortunate that, although every starter from the 2010 season finished the spring semester in good academic standing, these myths exist.  Our men’s basketball team’s APR score reflects our attention to academic progress and our student-athletes take great pride in representing the University of Kentucky on and off the floor.”

The ex-Cat Patterson responded as well, via Twitter:


“Ha I’m not even gonna comment on such b***s*** (excuse my French).  Think me graduating & teammates GPA’s speak for themselves… don’t u?”


DeMarcus Cousins — who was a UK one-and-doner last year — also tweeted a response:


“All respect Coach Knight but I went to my spring classes at UK and finished out strong good gpa even after declaring for draft.  Hope you correct your statement!”


Knight’s comments have certainly started a firestorm, which is no surprise when you consider his history.  But Dick Weiss of The New York Daily News believes the ex-coach’s comments drag his current employer into the mix, too:


The ball is in ESPN’s court.  If Knight’s comments are irresponsible and hateful, they can either hold him accountable or sweep it under the rug.  It’s their integrity that’s on the line here.


Eric Crawford of The Louisville Courier-Journal doesn’t expect the Worldwide Leader in Sports to do much of anything:


… It’s a mess that ESPN needs to clean up.  I don’t expect it will.  When Knight made previous public statements about UK coach John Calipari in a public setting, ESPN did nothing to set the record straight.  And my prediction here is that ESPN will say Knight was appearing on his own at a private event and not representing ESPN.


Personally, I’d love to hear Dick Vitale’s take on all of this.  For a man who usually keeps one lip attached to the rumps of Knight and Calipari at all times, taking sides on this one would amount to his own personal “Sophie’s Choice.”


Knight’s comments come on the heels of news that UConn one-and-done national champ Kemba Walker claims to have read just one book in his entire life.  So the issue Knight’s discussing is real — one-and-doners don’t fit the mold of true student-athletes.  That issue bears discussion.

(CORRECTION – Walker is a junior who is leaving to play pro ball, not a one-and-doner.  Unlike Knight, I have no problem admitting a mistake.  Doh!  My apologies for the brainfreeze.)

But to make wild statements about a coach and program you don’t like just to make a point?  Sorry, you can’t do that when you’re also expected to be a fact-based ESPN analyst.

Or at least you shouldn’t be able to do that.

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