LETTER TO THE EDITOR: For Indiana, It’s a Tale of Two Fired-Coaches

first_imgFor Indiana, It’s a Tale of Two Fired-Coachesby Bryan Fox“I ain’t never gonna stop praying for him.” Former Indiana head basketball coach Tom Crean on the man who fired him.“I hope they’re all dead.” Former Indiana head basketball coach Bob Knight on the people who fired himFor IU fans, we’ve been down this path before. A path that involves chasing a ghost of glories past. The glory days IU hasn’t seen the likes of for over 20 years. A kind of past the older generation is starting to refer to as the good ole days. The days where IU was a consistent national contender and no even dare bad mouth The General. A man whose name is in Hoosier folklore along with Ernie Pyle and Red Skelton. No one can deny the legend that is Coach Bob Knight.So when Knight was fired 17 years ago, the entire state of Indiana was in an uproar. You CAN’T fire our coach! He wins! His players graduate! He runs a clean program! The fact that during Knight’s last six seasons his teams failed to win a Big 10 championship (while Purdue won three) nor make it past the NCAA’s second round failed to enter people’s minds at that moment.People held animosity for the university and its administrators for years after the firing. When Knight ended up at Texas Tech a couple years later, he still had followers. In fact, people didn’t blame him for having resentment for IU at that time. As time wore on, and he resigned from Texas Tech and he went into television working for ESPN, people started seeing him and hearing his voice more often. He hardly uttered the words Indiana. Instead, he would refer to Indiana as when he “coached in the midwest.” When he would reference a former IU player, he would often only refer to the player’s name without, once again, mentioning Indiana.When Indiana hired Tom Crean to take over the storied program in 2008, he welcomed Knight back with open arms. When there was celebrations during Crean’s tenure for the anniversaries of Knight’s three championship teams, Knight refused to come. When A.J. Guyton, Knight’s last standout at IU was inducted into the Indiana sports hall of fame a few years ago, he sent Knight an open invitation to attend his induction ceremony, Knight refused to make an appearance.Last year, Knight went on the campaign trail with Donald Trump. While in Michigan, Knight taunted the Michigan crowd saying, “We whooped you a** every time we played you.” No, Knight wasn’t referencing his 30 years coaching at Indiana. He was referring to his 4 years as a basketball player at Ohio State.Finally, as a way to take one last swipe at a university that made him a sports icon, Knight goes on The Dan Patrick Show and says he hopes all the people who terminated him are dead. A pretty morbid statement considering two of them are already dead. That would be former president Myles Brand (died of cancer) and former player Neil Reed (heart cancer) who accused Knight of chocking him. Even for the ardent Knight supporters, this was hard to defend.The point of this story: Knight holds grudges. Knight doesn’t forgiv, e. Knight is a cranky old man. Over the years, its been reported that Knight has had falling outs with former players, sports reporters, and opposing coaches. It’s no wonder he hasn’t died of a heart attack with having so much anger against so many people. Indiana fired Knight 17 years ago, the people who fired him are no longer at the university, and he’s still holding a grudge.Contract Knight to Crean. Crean was hired after former coach Kelvin Sampson tarnished the program with NCAA infractions. Crean got fired for being “too inconsistent” in the words of AD Fred Glass. Glass’s point is valid. When a team goes from winning the Big 10 championship to not making the tournament 2 different times in a five-year span, people start pointing fingers at the coach. However, in the past 6 years, one can argue that Crean’s last 6 years at IU was better than Knights. Crean made to 3 sweet 16 appearances and 2 Big 10 championships. I bring this up not to imply Crean’s firing was unjustified, but to compare him to the legend that is Knight and you’ll see there is not a significant difference during the latter part of each coaches tenure.Crean has never shied away from his faith. His teams prayed every game day and has referenced his Christian faith at press conferences. If there was going to be any bitterness for Crean, it was going to be now while the firing is still new. Instead, Crean invoked his faith on a recent radio show. “I ain’t gonna stop praying for him.” says Crean of his former boss AD Glass. Crean obviously is taking the advice of Jesus who, from his Sermon on the Mount, says “pray for you enemies.” Crean also has shown he has a forgiving heart and holds no grudges (unlike Knight) when referring to his firing at IU.At Indiana, there appears to be a tale of two fired-coaches. One who has held a grudge for 17 years after his firing and will surely do so to his grave. Then there’s another coach who was fired within the past two weeks and is praying for the man who fired him and was also seen at an Indiana women’s basketball game after the university fired him. The contrasts are striking. Maybe we should all start praying for Knight to have a softer heart.FOOTNOTE: Todays “Readers Poll” question is:  Do feel that the taxpayers of Evansville should cover the financial losses generated by the Thunderbolts?This letter was posted without editing, bias or opinon.FacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmailSharelast_img read more