By now you’re already heard all the hubbub about the possibility of Bob Knight leaving his ESPN media persona behind to get back in the saddle at one of these high-level SEC jobs that have recently opened. Put specifically, Georgia. From the AP report today:
Bob Knight could be ready to return to coaching and Monday said Georgia would be a desirable destination. “We would have the wherewithal to recruit and be able to compete with anybody,” Knight told ESPN on Monday. Knight, who resigned as the Texas Tech coach almost one year ago, said he would return to the sideline if offered the right situation. Georgia could be that situation.
Does anyone else think that this wouldn’t be a great fit for Knight or Georgia?
Knight specifically said today that he would want to go to a school where he could recruit and graduate his players. Ok, fair enough, but what coach wants to go to a school where you can’t recruit? On its face, UGa, with its postcard-pretty campus and college town environs, should have no problem attracting top-flight student-athletes. Within a two-hour drive of Athens, the ATL suburbs boast a wealth of top-flight hoops talent that SEC and ACC coaches annually feast upon. Just as an example, 12 of the top 150 recruits in the Class of 2009 are from the Peach State, according to Rivals.
But wasn’t that true for Dennis Felton and Ron Jirsa before him (we’re excluding Jim Harrick from consideration because of his and his son’s recruiting practices)? Weren’t those same suburbs full of the same talent then, yet those players still chose to go to UNC, Alabama, Florida and Kentucky anyway? The underlying problem at Georgia begins with poor coaching, but in the talent-rich SEC East, it ends with poor recruiting, and only once in the last six seasons has UGa had a top 25 class (#12 in 2005). Why does anyone believe that Knight could change this?
It seems amidst all the hype (typically, Vitale is the worst offender, claiming that he’ll become his assistant and chaffeur Knight around if he takes the Georgia job) that nobody is taking a sensible step back and wondering why Knight, a self-professed hater of the recruiting process, would want to walk into a football-school-of-all-football-schools situation where he’s not the BMOC (Mark Richt with 2 SEC championships will continue to own that title even with BK on campus) and try to convince kids to play for him. If you look at his last decade-plus body of work (both at Indiana and Texas Tech), we’re not convinced that Knight can get Georgia prep stars to come to Georgia with any more regularity than Felton or Jirsa did. If anything, Knight’s reputation as a hard-ass and the anti-“player’s coach” would probably end up working against him in the SEC – a league that tends to depend on raw God-given talent more than most others.
We’ve said it before, but if Knight is serious about finding a final resting spot where he can shoot for 1,000 wins and hoops immortality, his best bet would be to pick a mid-major school with incredible fan support and a commitment to resources where he could recruit four-year players. In a relatively short period of time, he could turn that school into another Butler (or, dare we say?) Gonzaga. Forget this SEC stuff. Knight would have more fun playing the underdog role at the smaller school anyway.