Knight happy to return to Columbus

After today's win over Ohio State, ex-Buckeye Bob Knight talked about coming back to Columbus and his relationship with the university.

Who knows what kind of mood Bob Knight would have been in if his team hadn't won.

But, as it stood, following Texas Tech's 80-72 victory over Ohio State on Sunday, Knight was in a very good mood and was waxing nostalgic about his time in Columbus.

He started with a story about Woody Hayes.

"I've always enjoyed my relationship with the people of Ohio," Knight said. "I grew up here and I went to school here. I root for Ohio State. One of the neatest things that I've done was they asked me to write a letter in the alumni magazine once on a chair for Woody and I did that and it was a great honor for me to do that. So, this is a school that I have the strongest feeling of any school I've ever been around."

When Knight entered the Schottenstein Center prior to Sunday's game, he was given a pretty good reception by the Buckeye faithful. There were a few boos, but nothing like when he was at Indiana.

"I think the people have always been pretty good to me over here," Knight said. "I think they've been fair. I mean, they don't like Indiana to start with. I didn't change that because I was there. We didn't like Indiana worth a damn when I was playing at Ohio State. There was always something a little special in coach (Fred) Taylor's approach to playing Indiana. He and their coach were not the closest of associates.

"I always felt that there were people here that, sure, didn't want us to beat Ohio State, but I would imagine that a lot of them rooted for us to beat everybody else."

Knight went as far as to say that, even while he was coaching at Indiana, he felt a stronger tie to Ohio State. Maybe that's true, or maybe that's just another way to stick it to his former employer.

"You know, I've never really forgotten about what all Ohio State did for me when I was here as a student and what it enabled me to do after that," he said. "I think I've probably felt, deep down, closer to Ohio State than any school where I've coached."

Knight did not like facing his former coach.

"The hardest game that I ever had to coach was when Coach Taylor was here coaching," he said. "That was just a lose, lose situation for me. After he was out of coaching, then it was a little different. It got to the point, at least in my mind, where it was basically a game like any others. But that was really hard when we were in the league those four years together."

Knight also paid some respects to Jim O'Brien. When OSU had a coaching vacancy nearly eight years ago, Knight put in a good word for OB.

"When John Havlicek called me a few years ago - I think Andy Geiger had asked him to call me and run some names by me when Ohio State was hiring a coach - the first name John mentioned was Jimmy O'Brien," Knight said. "And I said, ‘I don't want to hear anymore. Tell Geiger that's the guy to hire right there.' There's nobody that I've appreciated more while I've been in coaching - coaching against - than Jim O'Brien."

Knight appreciates the fact that O'Brien wanted to schedule a two-game series with the Red Raiders.

"It's a hell of a long way to Lubbock. I mean, damn, it might be further to Lubbock than it is to Columbus, from Lubbock, I'm not sure," Knight joked. "He doesn't have to play us and it's great to have a home and home situation with Ohio State."

O'Brien has always respected Knight and the two have developed a friendship over the years.

"My affection for him has been well-documented," O'Brien said. "He's been very good to me. I like playing his teams. They present a tremendous challenge. I personally like the guy. I think he's done a lot of good for college basketball. I'm happy the guy considers me a friend."

Knight, who was the sixth-man on OSU's 1960 national championship squad, was asked if he told his players anything special about his homecoming.

"All I said to them was, ‘Hey, we've played pretty well. This is a big game for them; there is going to be a big crowd there. This is what we face every time we play on the road in the league.' That's all I talked about."

But Texas Tech junior guard Ronald Ross said it was pretty clear to the players that this one meant a little more to Knight. He didn't come right out and say it, but they knew he wanted to beat his alma mater.

"When we came here to Ohio State, we could tell that coach Knight was happy to be back in Columbus, so we just wanted to come out and play hard and try and keep him in a good mood," Ross said.


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