How he can talk so plainly with his head firmly implanted in his backside his simply amazing. The General was at it again this weekend at Wabash, again publicly disparaging John Calipari and the University of Kentucky. Not that there’s anything wrong with Knight playing up to a bunch of Hoosier fans at the expense of one of their rivals, but Coach Knight could at least get his facts straight.
Knight claims in his speech that in 2010 UK started 5 players who never went to class the second semester. It’s just a flat-out false claim. Of Kentucky’s starting five in 2010, Patrick Patterson completed his degree and graduated in three years, Darius Miller, a sophomore obviously attended classes as he was eligible this past season, and three freshmen (John Wall, Eric Bledsoe, and Demarcus Cousins) all completed the second semester before leaving for the NBA as documented by the NCAA which penalizes schools for early entrants who drop out of classes. Only reserve Daniel Orton failed to complete his classes second semester.
Knight’s crusade is about “one and dones” and their negative effect on college basketball. I’m with him all the way, as I’ve shared in this space. UK and Calipari are the current poster children for this phenomenon. Where Knight ought to be directing his Don Qixote-like anger is toward the NBA, the only body capable of changing this rule.
Instead, Knight once again lashes out at his old rival, Kentucky. He doesn’t just “play loose” with the facts here; he downright fabricates them. Remember last year when Knight falsely claimed Calipari had “left two schools on probation” and shouldn’t be coaching, despite that being demonstrably false? Of course this year, there was no outcry from Knight when his pal Jim Calhoun actually did put his program on probation and was sanctioned by the NCAA. In fact, on ESPN’s “Mike and Mike” show, Knight defended Calhoun!
This would be humorous if Knight were simply an eccentric former coach spinning yarns for old boosters. But Knight is now employed as a college basketball analyst at ESPN. While it’s become customary to expect outlandish, off-the-cuff remarks from Knight (no doubt what ESPN really desires in order to boost ratings), do you think for one second they’d put up with such blatant falsehoods coming from Jay Bilas or Hubert Davis?
If Knight and ESPN would like to retain what little is left of their credibility, they should think twice before engaging in this kind of character assassination coming from their employees. Knight may not like Kentucky because they took away his chance at consecutive undefeated seasons and he may not like Calipari personally (not exactly an exclusive club for either man). But if he wants to be a network analyst, he should stick to the facts and keep his personal biases out of his public comments.