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Bob Knight and his approach

  • He has a new book out called "The Power of Negative Thinking: An Unconventional Approach to Achieving Positive Results"

    I watched him in an interview recently and he talked about his whole approach to coaching and why he was the way he was and how he got positive results. He also gave other examples of taking a negative approach to doing things and how it turned positive.

    Knight's approach may have worked at one time, but it didn't help his career in the end, as society has become very soft and intolerable to any type of negative behavior towards kids and young adults.

    I'm a teacher and will tell you that if they ever encountered a coach like what Bob Knight was in terms of his yelling and negative approach, they would crawl under something and pout and cry.

    While many coaches still yell and get angry, it's nothing like coaches used to do (aka Bear Bryant, Bob Knight..etc.)

    So, I thought I would ask opinions. Is the current (what some might describe as softer) approach better than Knight's "old school" negative way, or are we now creating too much of a soft and wimpy society?
    Thoughts?

  • HawkiBrad55

    While I don't agree with laying a hand on kids the way these coaches did, I do think society is a big soft bowl of pudding and only getting worse. I don't have an answer really but I would think an in between approach would be best if I were to coach.

  • I agree that laying a hand on a player goes too far in terms of being angry at a player who does the wrong thing. Sometimes in practice a coach may have to put their hands on players (or touch) when teaching a skill.
    The film of the former Rutgers coach in his approach would be considered going too far.

    I remember when Fran first came to Iowa and he slammed the chair. There were a lot of mixed opinions about that incident. I would infer that right after that, there were a few parents who wouldn't want their kids playing for Fran.

    But, back 30 years ago, Bear Bryant's and Bob Knight's approach weren't making headlines. Even Mike Leach walks on egg shells (still conflicting stories of what actually happened at Texas Tech).

    In the big picture, like you say, society has become a bowl of soft pudding.

    I have a friend who works in an oil and gas company here in Houston and they've actually had parents of college grads demand to have meeting with who does the hiring or write letters because their child wasn't hired.

  • I honestly think Knight was one of the most overrated coaches in all of college sports his last several years at Indiana. Outside of physically abusing players, I really have no problem with whatever a coach does, as long as he doesn't break any laws and can get his players to graduate and perform on the field/court. But Knight, for all of the publicity and respect he got, wasn't winning anywhere close to as much as other top programs were, yet he was always mentioned right alongside those coaches. His act had worn thin by the end of his tenure in Bloomington.

    As a quick aside, I personally couldn't stand the way he conducted himself in general. I remember when he and Steve Alford did a live interview on Sportscenter when Alford was at Iowa. Going into the interview where he would be sitting next to Alford, Knight had to have known that they'd be asked about whether or not their relationship had fragmented. Yet, as soon as the interviewer asked the question about that, Knight cussed him/her out live on national TV. I'll never forget that.

  • Towards the end of Knight's career at Indiana, it almost seemed like he was putting on an act because it's what the media expected.

    People can go to youtube and search Bob Knight halftime speech. It's a classic arse chewing.

    The one interview I remember was in the NCAA tournament. The reporter asked him how a player (I believe Damon Bailey) would be the next season. Knight picked up a glass cup and started rubbing it as if it would tell him the future. It was quite funny, but it seemed like Knight went out of his way to try to make people look foolish, almost putting on an act.
    His act grew old.

    Then in the NIT championship game, when Knight was commentating, it seemed like the game was all about him and his stories instead of commentating on the game in front of him.

  • Overrated? I'm not sure about all that. Gotta remember he was no longer getting the great athletes in the 90's like he was in the rest of his career. Kids began to run away from his type of discipline and wanted to play where they could have fun and not have so much structure. (See the Fab Five, Miami (FL) football). Sure he had All Americans, but overall his teams lacked a lot of athleticism late in his career.

    I personally think he stayed too long. A new era in college athletics had been started, and he was never gonna change. I will say that Myles Brand was a POS, who I think sent his POS kid on a mission to publicly goad him into doing something. He can burn hell for that.

    As for the interview, I think if I remember it right, it was agreed upon that they wouldn't ask that particular question, but once the camera was rolling, it was asked, hence his reaction.

  • At one point, Knight was definitely an elite coach in college basketball. But he continued to be thought of in that light well after he was actually able to prove it with results on the court. A big part of coaching at the college level is being able to recruit, so the fact that he began to struggle with that needs to be considered. By the time he left Indiana, he was nowhere near an elite college coach, but was still thought of and hyped up in that way.

    I hadn't heard that the interviewer had agreed to not ask that question. But even if that's the case, there are still much, much better and classier ways to handle that situation than what he did.

  • If I'm an elite high school basketball recruit in the mid-90's, and I can either go to Indiana, be forced to deal with Knight for 3-4 years, lose in the first or second round of the tournament every year, and quickly flame out in the NBA, OR go somewhere where I'll make it to the Final Four, not be treated like that, and have a successful NBA career, it's a no-brainer.

  • Cedar Rapids (IA) Washington just lost a football coach stemming from some parents complaining about his treatment of players. He resigned and said it was due to something else, but all knew it was because of the stink being raised by overly-protective parents about their overly-sensitive children, perhaps some who had never received tongue-lashings by their parents or anyone else. Don't forget all the education emphasis on anti-bullying these days, beginning in kindergarten and continuing all the way through high school. You think it is acceptable for a sports coach to do that? I certainly do. Chew on them all you want if they need it or deserve it, but don't hit them, unless you're the boxing coach.

    Wait till some of them get out to the working world and have a boss who can be a bully if he doesn't like the work they are doing.

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    GO HAWKS!!!

  • But if your an elite recruit, you could've gone to Indiana and helped the program get beyond the 1st or 2nd round. The guys who flamed out didn't do so because of Coach Knight, it was because they weren't that talented to begin with, which lends to his getting the most out of what he had.

    And if I am willing to go to Indiana and be coached by Robert Montgomery Knight, there is no "deal" that needs to be forced upon me. Everyone knows what they were getting with Coach Knight. During that time, most of those kids didn't want discipline, they wanted to show off and be horses asses.

    He may have not been "elite" towards the end of his career, but this teams still routinely crapped out 20 win seasons and made the NCAA's...something I'd take any chance we could. 24 of his 29 years in the NCAA's. Oh and unlike Michigan and Ohio St...his program had never come under the scrutiny of the NCAA for violations and have had to vacate titles, wins or their self respect.

  • Exactly.

    I loved Bobby Knight as a coach and I would say he is a better person than 95% of NCAA coaches today. Gotta remember Bobby wanted all his players to graduate. That doesnt work these days. He would regularly checkup on class attendance. Bobby Knight was a teacher first and a coach second. They are student athletes. He was turning these guys into productive members of society. You can play in the Final 4 under Calapari or Huggins. I'll take the knowledge.

    Ask Coach K what he thinks about Bobby's coaching ability.

    Bobby on "Feherty" was great.

  • He is one of three coaches to lead a team to NCAA and NIT titles and an Olympic gold medal. His teams had a graduation rate of 98%.

    Overall graduation rate 30% above the national average.

    Maybe you should ban yourself for a day Todd with such comments: "Jim Tressel/Mo Clarrett arent bad people and Bobby Knight was one of the most overrated coaches during his twilight years at Indiana." biggrin

    There is more to judging a coach than W/L. Unless of course you are the Head Football Coach at Iowa. biggrin

  • Although my coaching credentials are very limited (coached YMCA flag football team in 1966), there is one element of traning/teaching that i have maintained an interest in and have done some comparative analysis on, that being military bootcamp. When I entered Navy bootcamp in 1969 at the NTS in San Diego Signalman Chief Comstock (he of the multiple tatoos) woke us up at 5:00 am banging on a trash can (Ala every Vietnam War movie I ever saw) and yelling at us that there were only 2 things he would not call us and those were a "bastard" and a "Son-of-Bitch" because he didn't want to say anything bad about our parents. Over the next 10 weeks, I and my 80 member company were subjected to kicks, punches, shoves, bites (By a Marine DI at the shooting range at Camp Pendleton), hits the chest and head by the business end (although not loaded) of a .45, curses of such inventiveness that I felt I learned an entirely different level of vocabulary by the end, choking to the point of making recruits pass out (the infamous "Choker Carter" visited our company in an effort to "Square our company away"), and a daily routine of indignity. There are a number of other physical and psychololgical batterings that we survived and came out the other side of as better sailors.

    My GF has a grandson who recently went off to bootcamp and nearly didn't survive it. There was no physical contact, no demeaning curses of the denegrating ilk, when he made a fake attempt at suicide because he couldn't take it anymore, they put him in a nice hospital where he spent 2 weeks getting his self-esteem back, and then he was allowed to graduate. He came home and made another suicide gesture because he was afraid they were going to send him to Iraq. Needless to say he has been honorably discharged and can now collect VA benefits. It is a different world.

    During my career as a Child Protective Worker for the State of Iowa I observed how much the children in our society changed in as little as 8 years. Early on most kids were innocent and when they described an abusive physical, sexual or other kind of inappropriate or dangerous action by a caretaker, you were reasonably sure they were telling you the truth. Within a short few years I began encountering youngsters who knew how to manipulate the system and often it was found they were lying about adult behavior so they could escape from those horrible parents who didn't want them watching porno at the supper table. Somewhere, sometime, someone told a big lie to a lot of kids. how else could they have concluded in large numbers that "Foster Care " is better than living at home with their families. Don't get me wrong, there are parents, baby sitters and multiple other caretakers who will and do abuse children. They should get their just deserts.

    This is all a societal thing for which there is no cure. Everyone has a part in it. Good results come about when the ideologs and fringe activists of every stripe are reigned in by our more normal and reasonable selves. That's what I keep hoping for.

    This post was edited by Froggydegremlin 14 months ago

  • I think it's arguable whether or not he played a role in his players not thriving in the NBA. While he was losing out on elite talent at the end of his career, he was still getting more talent than most teams were, yet those guys really weren't panning out at the next level. I think at least part of that blame has to fall on him, as he and his staff were supposed to develop kids.

    I don't really agree that just because a kid chose another school, he wanted to show off and be a horse's ass. There were plenty of great basketball programs that were winning more than IU and producing more NBA players, and where the head coach knew how to conduct himself.

    I agree that his teams were still making the Big Dance in most years even at the end of his run in Bloomington. But he was still being mentioned in the same breath as a Dean Smith, Coach K, Roy Williams, Rick Pitino, etc., and that was way off, IMO. Those guys were consistently in the mix for a national title, whereas Knight was nowhere near that level at that point. That's my main point here - that he was still considered an elite coach, but really wasn't one, which made him overrated.

  • I'm not arguing with his graduation rate or the success he had at one time in Bloomington. Just pointing out that, over the last several years of his tenure at IU, the program had really fallen off, and was nowhere near an elite program anymore. His act had worn thin.

  • His job was to win college basketball games, not develop anyone player for the NBA. College basketball coaches have little to do with a player making it into the NBA. First is if the player is athletic enough and then second its how much work said player puts into his game beyond practices as to whether they make it into the Pro's. Coaches teach fundamentals, they can't teach things like speed and height. This isn't football.

  • I think there has to be some responsibility for college basketball coaches when it comes to whether or not their players succeed in the NBA. Just like it is in football, a coach's NBA track record is often a major factor in a recruit's final decision. That likely hurt Knight near the end of his time at IU. So while that may not be in his job description per se, it definitely played a role in his struggles down the stretch at IU.

    Also, while coaches can't teach things like speed and height, the same is true for football. Iowa has carved out an impressive reputation in football for taking kids that are a little shorter, a little lighter or a little slower, and developing them into NFL players regardless. I don't have stats on how many NBA players each college has produced right in front of me, but I would imagine there were a number of schools that weren't bringing in as much talent as IU was under Knight, yet were still producing more NBA talent than IU was.

  • Well just have to agree to disagree. argue biggrin

    In the 30 years I've spent watching and reading about college basketball and in particular recruiting, I've yet to hear or read about a recruit saying the immortal words "I wanna go there cuz this coach or school puts so many players into the NBA".

  • cheers I always enjoy talking shop with you!

  • My grandfather was the baseball coach at MSU for 39 years. He also coached basketball, ice hockey and football. He never physically abused players and he never swore at them. But when a player screwed up, believe me, he knew it. You can be a good coach and a good disciplinarian without being abusive.

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  • Very true. I've been around coaches that would chew kids out all the time, but never cussed one time, and never came close to laying a hand on a player.