The raspy eastern voice of Jim O'Brien has ceased to be heard in the halls of the Schottenstein Center. The squeaking of tennis shoes has now muffled that of his ominous fiery instructions in the gymnasium for which he's preached the last seven seasons.
But, is this deafening silence just the calm before a very energetic and at times enigmatic storm?
After Andy Geiger called a very surprising press conference to announce that O'Brien had been fired for giving $6,000 to former Ohio State signee Alexsander Radojevic, indirectly, a sleeping giant had been awakened.
O'Brien had built himself a very stable and solid program at Ohio State. The highlight, a final four appearance in just his second season as the Buckeye head coach, perhaps also dissatisfied many casual fans for a very ordinary, and in many ways disappointing, past two seasons.
A very common desire amongst the program's followers seems to be more noise. More noise in the building during home games, more noise made nationally amongst the media, more noise on the national recruiting scene, and more noise from the coach itself - a nationally renowned figure in the college basketball world.
Is there anyone noisier than Bobby Knight?
Robert Montgomery Knight is perhaps the loudest candidate there is - both figuratively and literally speaking. There would be no awkward silences within the confines of the practice gymnasium for certain, but Value City Arena most definitely would not struggle for enthusiasm either.
In an arena that has lately been accused of being more fittingly referred to as a public library, Knight, also affectionately known as "The General", would bring an excitement back to Ohio State that hasn't been seen since the days of Jimmy Jackson, or previously, Fred Taylor.
Much like any good military leader, The General would rally the troops and stir up his patriotic support system. An every day Buckeye fan who probably couldn't even name the team captain for the basketball team would suddenly find him or herself going to half a dozen games and watching all of the others on television - and there would be plenty of them on.
Suddenly, Ohio State would find themselves in front of a national television audience quite often. Imagine Knight's first trip to his old stomping grounds in Bloomington to face the team for which made him famous coaching. The game against Indiana would suddenly be a nationally recognized rivalry. It's quite possible a large portion of Assembly Hall would find itself secretly rooting for the Buckeyes, simply on behalf of Knight.
Mike Davis, the Indiana head basketball coach, is not the only person that would benefit from a new rival, either. Iowa's Steve Alford and Purdue's Gene Keady would both receive national attention in anticipation of Ohio State coming to town, led by their new General.
In Knight's first season, a return trip to Lubbock would also make the national slate, as Ohio State will face Texas Tech. Can you imagine that, a coach, 6th all-time in victories, facing both of his former teams in the same season on the road on national television?
Dick Vitale would be yelling "oh baby" for an entire week in anticipation of either match-up. Speaking of Vitale, although Ohio State fans could probably care less, you just know he would return to Columbus for a game for the first time in probably a decade.
Almost instantaneously, while basketball will never top football, it won't be treated as a way of passing the time until spring football starts. Basketball would finally be something that brings its own excitement.
Let's not sell Knight short, either. Not only would he bring excitement, he wins. Currently, Knight has 809 victories placing him 6th on the all-time list. He most certainly will pass Jerry Johnson who has 812 wins, and with just 22 wins, he also would pass Jim Phelan (830 victories) and Clarence Gaines (828 victories). Knight would be 3rd on the all-time list after the 2004-2005 season with just about 45 wins shy of reaching Adolph Rupp and then Dean Smith.
Ohio State would benefit greatly from him breaking Smith's record, as well. Needing to just coach three or four more seasons, Knight would be the career leader in victories, with no one expecting to challenge him for quite some time. When Knight retired, what big name coach wouldn't be interested in the Ohio State job after the publicity they just got by his return?
The NCAA would instantly be appeased by Ohio State's hiring of Knight. The threat of NCAA sanctions would cease to exist, as well as the possibility of more rules being broken. The graduation rates, something that was very good under O'Brien's watch, would continue to impress.
Knight, the Ohio State alum who was a reserve on the 1960 national championship team under Taylor, probably is not the sexiest candidate. Marquette's Tom Crean would probably recruit better than the Orville, Ohio native. Xavier's Thad Motta would probably be a better well behaved citizen. However, although it could be argued either coach would be a better long-term solution, Knight would be an instant hit, and no one could argue the short-term success.
Ohio State currently ranks 27th all-time in victories, and in the top 15 all-time in both final four appearances as well as NCAA tournament appearances. However, not since Fred Taylor has Ohio State had a coach that equates them nationally as being rich in basketball tradition. Needless to say, Knight would help do that.
There's no guarantee Knight is going to suddenly make Ohio State a perennial national title contender. There's not even any guarantees he's going to bring in top 10 recruiting classes, as he's more likely to bring in people that fit his system and help him win.
Although Knight hasn't had a Sweet 16 appearance in nearly 10 years, he hasn't stopped winning. Ohio State can be assured of being a Big Ten contender, and making the NCAA tourney field also shouldn't be a problem. If he's able to bring Final Four caliber teams to the suddenly crazed Schott, that's just icing on the cake.
People just might get their wish. If Buckeye fans wanted to make some noise, and wanted the basketball program to get loud, Bobby Knight is exactly what they wished for.
If Bobby Knight is hired, perhaps the next f-bomb he drops will be drowned
out by 20,000 screaming fans. Perhaps the next tossed chair, will have a 2005
Final Four logo on the back. And quite possibly the next time any of those
things happen, it will be on national television as the head coach of the Ohio
State Buckeyes. Now that would make some noise, wouldn't it?