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Bob Knight 'plays the fool'

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By Bob Watkins

In life, each of us must sometimes play the fool.

 - Yiddish Proverb

Thank you, Bob Knight.

Indiana’s ex-coach was in Indianapolis last week at a fund raiser for the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame. It was also Knight’s night to ... play the fool. (wink)

As always, when The General speaks, we listen and think and form opinions on his opinions, whether we agree or not (he doesn’t care). We are seldom disappointed.

ESPN.com seized upon a single Knight gem for its internet splash. Guaranteed to turn heads and turn up the heat on December hoops, it did. And, on this side of the Ohio River, the earth moved, especially in Fayette County.

“We’ve gotten into this situation where integrity is really lacking and that’s why I’m glad I’m not coaching,” he said. “You see, we’ve got a coach at Kentucky who put two schools on probation and he’s still coaching. I really don’t understand that.”

Knight does understand of course. He was wrong about probation for UMass or Memphis, but right about integrity and college coaches. He was savvy enough to know his (Hoosier) audience and knows history well enough to tweak a whipping boy favorite, UK basketball.

The righteous on this side of the Ohio river did exactly as expected. Shift to morale outrage and rally to John Calipari’s defense opening up more spew from national media. As the fire storm raged, Teflon Cal handled it perfectly saying he disagreed, then moved on.

Meanwhile, fans and media lit up Knight’s reputation like a bad Christmas tree. The Lexington newspaper shamelessly published a two-decades old photo of the IU coach’s flinging a chair.

All ignored an important point. Final Fours vacated and give-back$ by UMass and Memphis aside, a larger truth is, the integrity of college coaches IS in question today and their reputations reside somewhere in the neighborhood with those of national politicians.

What deserved more attention from Knight’s speech in Indianapolis was this: “Very few people know this, but a kid can play the first semester as a freshman, pass six hours of anything and play in the NCAA tournament without ever attending a class in the second semester. I don’t think that’s right.”

In fact, it’s a mockery and Calipari condoned it with Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans.

But we can be certain, can’t we, media-types who righteously hammered Bob Knight last week, will be on top of their game to investigate and report pre-registered spring class load for John Wall, right?

Meanwhile, Knight has played the fool, winked at critics and gone back to his perch atop college basketball where coaches never lose a game. Meanwhile, ESPN bean counters are eyeballing the ratings.

Merry Christmas. Heh heh heh.

KY. MR. FOOTBALL

For 2009, Antonio Andrews of Fort Campbell joins the Commonwealth’s football elite with unusually distinguished credentials. Quarterbacked his team to two 2-A state titles and played in 29 victories in 29 games.

Kudos to the AP affiliated selectors. Andrews is Mr. Football because ...

• On-field record. See above.

• 3.4 grade point average, according to coach Shawn Berner who calls Andrews “an incredible leader.”

• Mr. Football for 2009 is so despite virtual promotion for other candidates by metro media.

College for Andrews? He will choose from an impressive list of schools from SEC, Big East to the Sun Belt and Independents Army and Air Force.

Could be a good fit for Andrews’ family, and certainly a coup for new coach Willie Taggart, if Western Kentucky signed what would be its first Mr. Football ever.

NEWS & VIEWS

NEWS. Kentucky’s Rich Brooks is SEC Coach of the Year, says CollegeFootballNews.com. “Despite numerous obstacles, Brooks’ squad fought its way to a 7-5 record and will advance to a school-record fourth-consecutive bowl game...”

VIEW. Equivalent of a Nobel Peace Prize given our President. Never mind congratulations from Nick Saban and Urban Meyer, lets see what big-spending Mitch Barnhart does for his football coach’s bank account.

NEWS. The NCAA may not renew its contract with CBS-Sports’s coverage of the men’s basketball tournament after next spring.

VIEW. The good news would be being ride of CBS’s wrapping games around commercials instead of other way round. Bad news? Cable carrier would price out too many fans and open the nightmarish possibility of Dick Vitale working a Final Four.

NEWS. NCAA investigating University of Tennessee football. Coach Lane Kiffin told ESPN, “... I don’t know of any wrongdoing with any members of our staff or the kids that are being questioned.”

VIEW. Kiffin is on solid ground. Short of a confession spurred by guilty conscience by a UT booster (snicker), the NCAA is wasting its time. Kiffin, like coaches have done for decades, established a buffer of deniability the NCAA police will never penetrate.

WORTH REPEATING

Time Magazine’s Alex Altman on Tiger Woods: “As much as we love tearing down our idols, we’re suckers for tales of redemption, and one Sunday next year, Woods will hoist another trophy. At that point, perhaps we can admire the achievement without deifying the athlete – and stop mistaking public prowess for private virtue.”

PARTING SHOT

To those who write kind words, and those who are not so kind, Merry Christmas! My gift this week are excerpts from Life Lessons by the late Regina Brett.

• Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

• Forgive everyone everything.

• You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

• Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

• No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

• Believe in miracles.

• And finally ... believe the best is yet to come.

And so it goes.

Merry Christmas.