OFF THE WALL? Why Knight should fall on WSU

IT SEEMS OUTLANDISH, the notion that Jim Sterk would go after Bob Knight as the next Washington State coach. Sure, Bobby is the all-time winningest coach in D-I history. He also carries around controversy by the bushel. But facts are facts: He has consistently produced one of the nation's highest player-graduation rates and doesn't commit recruiting violations. And he wins -- a lot.

The guess here is that WSU would dismiss Knight out of hand and never give his name more than a chuckle. But Sterk should think again.


I'm serious.

Knight would bring with him to the Palouse 902 career wins, the most in Division I men's history. He's 68 years old, but has clearly maintained the competitive fires of a 40-year old. Put a whistle around his neck and watch him go nonstop for at least 5 or 6 more years.

And watching Bobby on TV each week behind the analyst's desk, his body language screams out, "I'd rather be on the court!"

It's understandable why. Besides winning games at an unprecedented rate, Knight's programs have never been placed under NCAA sanctions and his players at Indiana achieved a graduation rate of 98 percent over his 29 years at the helm. The national graduation rate for Division I basketball players in 2000, the year Knight was fired, was 42 percent. And did you recently see what Lute Olson did in that arena over the last decade at Arizona? Yep, 20 percent. That's shameful.

KNIGHT HAS BEEN doing television work since he resigned from Texas Tech and while he appears to somewhat enjoy the by-play, it's clear he wants back into coaching. He wants one more shot.

And Washington State might well fit the bill better for a 68-year old coach, and one who brings with him loads of baggage, than those with openings right now who have more national spotlight shining upon them, like Memphis.

Is it an unconventional pick for Wazzu? You bet. Is it risky, and fraught with potential headaches for Sterk, WSU President Elson Floyd and the entire WSU Administration? Hell yes it is.

But would Knight win? Would he graduate his players? Would he make an instant hoops recruiting splash, the kind of which has never been witnessed in Pullman before?

Undoubtedly, the answers to those questions are also in the affirmative.

Detractors will say Knight's glory days have long since gathered dust -- that all his accomplishments came at Indiana back in the '70s and '80s. Not true. Knight took his Texas Tech teams to the NCAA Tournament four times in his six full seasons there.

In five of those six seasons, the Red Raiders won more than 20 games. In the five years before his arrival, Texas Tech never won 20 games and had only one winning season.

Knight took the Tech job about one year after he was fired at Indiana, when the itch to return to the bench got to be too much.

It's been a little over a year since he stepped down at Texas Tech.

Sterk, who made an unconventional hire when he brought Dick Bennett out of retirement, should at least call Knight. If he doesn't like what he hears, he can just step away. No harm, no foul.

But what if Knight changes Sterk's mind? What if Sterk sets up a formal interview with him? And what if The General then rides into Pullman?

People who personally know Knight say he is one of the best men they've ever met. Why let public persona cloud what real people have to say?

Give the guy a listen.

The main argument against him will be philosophical. Bob Knight fits at WSU about as well as a lady of the evening in church. To that I agree. But look at the two-faced promises that were foisted upon us by a self-proclaimed Bible beater who just bolted for Virgina. I'll take honesty over hypocrisy anytime. It's time for a change.

And consider this: The Cougars would immediately be the talk of college basketball, a national buzz that would likely last all the way through the season.

And 20 wins for Washington State in 2009-10 suddenly seems much more possible.

Knight selected timeline:
1971 -- Named Indiana head coach
1972-73 -- Big Ten championship, goes to NCAA Final Four
1973 -- Big Ten coach of the year
1973-74 -- Big Ten championship
1974-75 -- Big Ten championship
1975 -- National coach of the year, Big Ten coach of the year
1975-76 -- Wins NCAA championship
1976 -- National coach of the year, Big Ten coach of the year
1980 -- Big Ten coach of the year
1980-81 -- Wins NCAA championship, Big Ten championship
1986-87 -- Wins NCAA championship, Big Ten championship
1987 -- National coach of the year
1988-89 -- Big Ten championship
1989 -- National coach of the year
1990-91 -- Big Ten championship
1991-92 -- Elected into the Basketball Hall of Fame
1992-93 -- Big Ten championship
1986-00 -- Streak of 15 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances
1997- Earns win No. 700
2000 - Fired from Indiana
2003 - Becomes youngest coach ever, at 62, to reach 800 victories
2007 - Becomes the all-time leader in wins with 880
2008 - Earns win No. 900

About the Author: Paul Wilson is a third generation Cougar fan and has been an enthusiastic follower of Wazzu hoops for more than 25 years.

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