IULOL: Hey, Knight, What Up?

The Fake Gimel Martinezalmost 12 years

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Aritcle written by:The Fake Gimel MartinezThe Fake Gimel Martinez
IULOL
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(Hey gang! Join in on the IULOL happy fun times. On Twitter, use the hash tag #IULOL and describe your favorite UK victory over IU OR your favorite moment of IU humiliation. I'll post the best IULOL's on Saturday before the game. Also, don't forget about our official KSR Twitter list.)

As I mentioned on Tuesday, I grew up on the front lines of the IU/UK warzone in Western KY. Like most border rivals, fans would end up living and/or working on the opposite physical sides of the state divide. A loss in the December rivalry game meant a full year of verbal crap from a-hole co-workers, bratty Hoosier expatriate kids at school and those IU-fan family members.

Indiana was led by the General. And Hooiser fans believed with the conviction of monks that Bobby Knight was completely infallible. The Assembly Hall Order of Knight-Worshippers would almost chant off their head coach's holy qualities: Hard work, discipline, a focus on academics and graduation rates, and not cheating.

And they chanted ever so loudly during the time period we refer to as "Kentucky's Shame". Not that I blame them; such is the right and responsibilities of fans in the battleground counties. Like in other battleground areas (southern KY, northern KY next to Cinci, Louisville) we fans suffered the private and occasionally unprompted public taunts of the Hoosier fanbase. Indiana beating the Wildcats three years in a row (1988: 75-52, 1989: 71-69, 1990: 87-84) added more insult to the probation injury. But I can't remember how many times I was told, "You will never catch Bobby Knight cheating."

The reasoning for IU's forever betterment over Kentucky was always Bobby Knight. Except that the Hysterics forgot that "forever" almost always includes "change".

Knights' lack of self-control and patterns of physical abuse is well documented. Knight's behavior was tolerated because Knight produced wins, which lead to national exposure and Hoosier pride. Over 3,000 protesters set fires in Bloomington to challenge the decision to fire the General. They didn't understand was what everybody else in the country already knew: Reports about Bobby's behavior had already started hurting recruiting and would continue to drive talented kids away.

In the late 80s, Bobby Knight saw a steady trickle of recruits decide to transfer from IU, including Delray Brooks, Andre Harris and Ricky Calloway. Coach Knight received a gift from UK's Probation by snagging former UK recruit Lawrence Funderburke. Funderburke chaffed against Knight's coaching style and dropped out of school. Funderburke then returned to IU at 1990 to finish his school credits and obtain release from his Letter of Intent. Knight then attempted to manipulate Funderburke's transfer destination, as Funderburke had desires to return to Kentucky. After a heated semi-public back-and-forth, Funderburke finally enrolled at Ohio State in 1992, got drafted and wrote a book called Hook Me Up, Playa!.

Without the talent, Bobby's teams in the 1990s started trending from great to good. After a Final Four appearence in 1992, Knight never returned; after 1993, Knight never won or shared the Big Ten Conference title. In fact, the last 7 years of Knight's tenure at IU, he lost at least 9 games a season. Coach Knight could get All-Americans like Alan Henderson and Calbert Cheaney, but couldn't get enough talented role-players to advance further.

To this day, elements of the The Assembly Hall Order of Knight-Worshippers still refuse to acknowledge that anything Knight did -- the throwing of plants and chairs, the choking of players, the scuffling with students -- justified removing him from coach. Even at the recent IU Hall of Fame induction, former editor of the Bloomington Herald-Times Bob Hammel preached that, "What those numbers don’t say is what made Indiana so special, ’cause everyone knew that what Bob Knight was doing at Indiana was kicking the slats out of that perennial excuse that you have to cut a few corners, that you have to cheat a little bit. Everybody would have loved to catch Bob Knight cheating on something and they never could. The never did and they never would."

Bobby Knight didn't cheat. But he didn't change with the times, either. Winning 3 National Championships makes him a great coach and a national Hall-of-Fame coach. But his abhorrent personality taints his legacy just as much as a cheating scandal would have. The level of public scorn towards IU during that time in 1999 and 2000 -- including nightly coverage by ESPN and (somewhat lesser) on the Internet -- was just as intense and negative as during 2008's actual cheating incident with Kelvin Sampson.

Which is why I will attempt not to deify current UK Coach John Calipari. And its why I laugh every time I hear an IU fan talk about Bobby Knight.

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2021-09-16