Commentary

Bob Knight handed off the team to Pat just like he wanted

Originally Published: February 5, 2008
By Andy Katz | ESPN.com

Texas Tech head coach Bob Knight thought about retiring a year ago after he passed Dean Smith's all-time win record.

But his son, assistant coach Pat Knight, said he talked his father out of the decision.

A month ago, Knight said his father mentioned retiring again.

But, once again, Knight said he convinced his father that he should finish the season.

On Monday, Knight had no rebuttal to his father's decision. By the time he entered his father's office on the Lubbock campus, his father had already told the Texas Tech administration that he was going to resign.

"He said, 'I just can't do it anymore,' that he was worn down," said Knight, who was named the head coach designate two years ago by the same athletic director, Gerald Myers, who hired his father.

When Bob Knight called his sons Pat and Tim (who works with the basketball program and athletic department) into his office Monday, the brothers thought it was to talk about a planned golfing trip to Ireland in the spring. Pat Knight said he had no idea his father was going to retire.

And when Bob Knight told the Texas Tech team Monday afternoon that he was retiring, there were emotional moments from the players and staff, Pat Knight said.

"But he said, 'Jesus, guys, I didn't die. I'm just not coaching,'" said Knight, who later coached practice without his father there.

"He was out," Knight said. "He was out of the way, and he intends to stay out of the way."

On Sunday night, Bob Knight talked at length with the legendary Pete Newell by phone. Roger Newell, Pete's son, told ESPN.com on Monday night that his father said that with Knight, there was no gray area. When Knight was done coaching, he was done. Knight knew when to retire. Pete Newell, 92, was too tired to talk late Monday night, Roger Newell said, but added that his father was thrilled that Knight had figured it was time to retire.

Pat Knight echoed that sentiment. He can now look forward to having his father by his side as a confidant with strategy and recruiting as he moves forward as a head coach. Knight said his father will stay in Lubbock but will also travel extensively, continue to fish and hunt, and help the university in fund-raising.

Knight said when Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser passed away of a heart attack over the summer, he started to worry about his father. He didn't want the stress of coaching to cut Bob Knight's life short, too.

"I look forward to us just hanging out, father-son, without the pressures of coaching," Pat Knight said.

Knight said he was prepared to take over the program in the spring when he thought his father would most likely retire. And while he was surprised that it happened Monday, he's not shocked that Bob Knight did it on his terms.

"He wanted to do it when everyone least expected it," Knight said. "He didn't want a press conference. He didn't want a rocking chair."

Knight spent a year as an assistant at Akron under former coach Dan Hipsher. He was a former player and assistant at Indiana. But he came to Texas Tech with his father seven years ago and coaching for the first time -- at Baylor on Wednesday -- without him "will be surreal. But I didn't get into this business to be an assistant coach. I got into it to be a head coach."

"I've worked my ass off and this is a good opportunity, and I'm going to take it," Knight added.

Knight said he called the Red Raiders' four recruits and reassured them that he would be the next head coach. But right now, life as the head coach won't be easy. Texas Tech is 12-8 overall, 3-3 in the Big 12, and facing upcoming games at Baylor (Wednesday), at Nebraska (Saturday) and home against 24th-ranked Kansas State.

"My dad did it for 42 years. He's 67 and now he's walking way on his terms," Knight said. "He did it when everyone least expected it, just like he said."

And with that, Pat Knight is fully in charge at Texas Tech.

Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com