- Gregg Patterson, Outdoors
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The abrupt resignation of Bob Knight earlier this month as Texas Tech's basketball coach got me thinking.
Now, Knight can concentrate full-time on his passion for hunting and fishing; the world would be a better place if he did, too.
Bear with me, and I'll tell you why.
I know you're thinking that Coach has nicked a couple of hunting colleagues with misplaced shots in the past. You may have even seen that home video a few months ago, where Coach is having a civil (well, for him) conversation with an irate landowner who accused Coach and a buddy of allegedly spraying him with birdshot while the two hunted doves nearby.
Don't let any of that scare you.
College basketball's winningest coach could sure help the U.S. win another big one, just like he did in 1991. That's when he and baseball great Ted Williams took down the Iron Curtain during a fishing trip with "The Fishin' Hole" host Jerry McKinnis.
McKinnis has threatened to put this story in print several times, but has yet to do it, so you'll have to rely on my secondhand version.
At the time, I was trying to set up an interview with McKinnis for a magazine article I was writing, and I called him to schedule a time.
He said he'd be happy to do it, but could I wait until he returned from a shoot he was preparing for in the Soviet Union for "The Fishin' Hole."
"I'm taking Coach Knight and Ted Williams," he said with genuine excitement. "This ought to be really something."
I agreed, and we made plans to meet soon after his scheduled return. When I showed up for the interview, McKinnis wasn't there. His receptionist informed me that he'd been delayed and was still out of the country.
It was about a week later when we finally got together. The big news of the day was the breakup of the Soviet Union and resignation of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. The Iron Curtain was disappearing before our eyes.
McKinnis was tired but pleased with the trip's results. I teased him about it taking so much longer than normal to shoot this show. (The trip wound up taking about two weeks with all the travel and delays.)
Both Williams and Knight are well known for their colorful language: "I bet you burnt up hours of film just trying to get 22 clean minutes for your show," I said. "And look at this Gorbachev thing. You take Ted Williams and Bobby Knight to the cradle of communism, and the Russians just give up.
McKinnis burst into a wide grin.
"You're not the first one to say that. Those two guys were incredible," he said. "What a treat it was just to be around them.
He went on to tell a story Williams had shared on the trip.
It seems Williams had been a guest of President Bush earlier that summer and mentioned he and Coach Knight were going to the Soviet Union to fish. Williams said the President just shook his head and said he'd have a foreign relations mess to clean up when the two got back.
Fast forward to 2008.
Coach Knight has a lot of free time now. McKinnis, too. He retired from "The Fishin' Hole" after more than 40 years. Maybe it's time for another fishing trip.
How about Iraq?
I'm sure The General could work some of that old foreign relations magic again over there. You know the old West Point coach would love to visit the troops.
Ted Williams is gone, rest his soul. And George Bush is still in the White House, albeit a new one. But maybe Vice President Dick Cheney would be willing to pinch hit for The Kid.
He and Coach may not be the straightest shooters, but I hear he's pretty good with a fly rod.
Iron Curtain fell, and Iraq better watch out for "The General"