IT WAS always hard to imagine that Bob Knight would leave Texas Tech in an ordinary fashion, so his abrupt resignation on Monday evening was in some ways not surprising. As SI went to press, little was known of the reasons for Knight's decision. His Red Raiders were 12--8 and unlikely to reach the NCAA tournament, but the General, as he's known, had given no warning of leaving his command smack in the middle of the season. On Monday, Knight, 67, told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal that he has no health issues; he was contemplating retiring after the season and decided this was the best time to turn the program over to his son Pat, an assistant who was named head coach designate in 2005.
If this is Knight's farewell, he leaves an inarguable legacy of success: three national titles at Indiana, an Olympic gold medal and 902 victories, the most in the history of Division I men's basketball. Knight will be remembered as one of the game's great innovators, the mastermind behind the motion offense and the last man to coach an undefeated national champion (the 1975--76 Hoosiers). Yet he'll also be recalled as a verbal abuser of players, an angry genius who was fired after violating a zero-tolerance policy at Indiana and had to continue his career in a sort of purgatory in Lubbock.
Knight certainly had his share of head-scratching moments this season. During a December game at Centenary, he clashed with student fans and failed to return for the second half of a 70--66 loss, saying he was ill. On Jan. 5, after a win over UTEP during which Knight kicked the scorer's table so hard that he lost his shoe, he made his 21 month old grandson the focus of the postgame press conference, using profane language and making a mockery less of the media than of himself. More damaging to Knight, however, was this: His team wasn't very good. Pat, 37, now takes over a program whose future is uncertain. Pat's résumé isn't exactly sterling: His only head coaching experience came in the USBL and the IBA, where he went a combined 22--22, and he was never offered any of the college jobs for which he interviewed (Wright State, Fresno State and New Mexico State). As for his pops, his departure may have been stunning to some, but not to those who know his history.