Despite difficult early years, the Duke basketball coach reached victory number 903 on Nov. 15, passing Bob Knight for the NCAA Division I men's record.
DAN PATRICK:What loss still haunts you?
November 28, 2011
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: At the end of my third year, when we lost 109--66 to Ralph Sampson and Virginia in the ACC tournament. There were a lot of people who wanted me fired—a lot of our money givers.
DP:In today's world you might not have made it to a fourth season.
MK: No question about it. After my third season here, my eighth year coaching [at Duke and Army], I was 111--106. The prospects of a stellar coaching career were not very bright.
DP:Of the 903 wins, which one are you most proud of?
MK: In 1986 when we won our first regular-season ACC championship in Cameron on Senior Day with the class of kids who have been the model for our program—[Johnny] Dawkins, [Mark] Alarie, [Jay] Bilas and David Henderson.
DP:Who was the most important player— not your favorite—during your tenure.
MK: Dawkins because he was the first McDonald's All-American to commit. [Christian] Laettner was the biggest winner. [Bobby] Hurley was the most daring. [Grant] Hill and [Shane] Battier were the most complete players.
DP:How many years are left on your contract?
MK: As many years as I want.
DP:I feel bad for your assistants. Don't you have to occasionally say, "Hey, you'll be coaching here in, say, 2013"?
MK: I have three guys who I think are head coaches: Steve Wojciechowski, Chris Collins and Jeff Capel. This time next year all three may have head coaching jobs.
DP:Will you handpick your successor?
MK: I don't think that will happen. I don't feel that's right where you as a coach are bigger than what the institution thinks it needs.
DP:How often did you question your relationship with Bob Knight?
MK: I never questioned his love for me and my love for him. I look at him as a father figure. Those relationships are filled with love, but they're filled with [other] emotion too. There are going to be points where you disagree. But the love for one another never leaves.
DP:What were you trying to convey when you said part of Joe Paterno's problems at Penn State were generational?
MK: It's not a defense for Coach Paterno. It's not even only about Coach Paterno. It's about the whole situation. If you look at the history of this type of abuse in our country and how it's been handled through different generations, it's ridiculously different. It's tough to figure it out. In our society there are a lot of things that have been hidden as far as sexual abuse through generations.
DP:I worry people may not have the same confidence in coaches we once had.
MK: Coaches are human beings. They're not better than anybody else. If you're successful in coaching, you have a huge platform. You have to recognize that platform goes way beyond your sport. But we all make mistakes.
"My main goal is not to get fined and not to have any issues [that keep me off the field]. At any point, any defensive player [can] get fined for an incidental hit. It's just the nature of the game. Bad hits happen."
—Ndamukong Suh, Detroit Lions defensive tackle
Guest Shots SAY WHAT?
Former NFL QB Phil Simms thinks Tim Tebow (page 44) is more accurate than he's shown. "He's neurotic about making sure he doesn't throw an interception," Simms told me. "If he stops that, he's going to look a lot better." ... Houston Cougars quarterback and Heisman hopeful Case Keenum is the most prolific passer in NCAA history, but he isn't getting much positive feedback on his NFL prospects. "I've heard, 'He's too short, doesn't have any arm strength...,' stuff I've heard my whole life," Keenum said. "All you need is one chance." ... Former do-it-all running back Marshall Faulk says teams approach his position the wrong way. "Your offense is much better when you have a guy who plays every down," Faulk told me. "You dictate to the defense what you're doing when you switch your back." ... Southern Cal coach Lane Kiffin has a problem with any Heisman voter who penalizes his quarterback Matt Barkley because the school's on probation. "With all the transfers leaving," Kiffin said, "that actually should favor him even more."