Will he wear red sweater? What to expect from Knight on call of first Indiana game

This won’t be an ordinary broadcast of an Indiana-Georgia game tonight in Brooklyn on ESPN (5:30 ET). Oh no, not with Bob Knight working the game with Dan Shulman.

It will be Knight’s first time breaking down the Hoosiers during a game as an ESPN analyst. He was part of the studio crew for a previous Indiana game at Madison Square Garden, but didn’t call the actual game.

If you’re Indiana, this is a big deal. Knight had to sign off on this, perhaps signaling he is ready to reconcile with the school. It’ll be interesting to see how Shulman draws him out about Indiana.

Veteran Knight watcher, Rick Bozich, wrote at WDRB.com in Louisville:

Knight-ologists will be breaking down the telecast like the Zapruder film, trying to determine if Knight’s decision to work the game signals a legitimate thaw in the icy relations that have existed between the coach and IU in the dozen years after he was fired.

My guess?

I don’t expect to see Knight in Assembly Hall this season, but this is a small step in closing the massive divide. If Knight’s only thoughts about IU were ugly and adversarial, he wouldn’t be working this game. He’d find a way to avoid IU again.

And one wise person who knows Knight well told me this several years ago: Bob Knight will make peace with Indiana when IU is back on top and he isn’t.

Terry Hutchens of Indystar.com writes:

Now, for all of you out there that are reading into this that because Knight is doing an IU game that it means he’s ready to ride on his white horse (with a red sweater probably) back to Bloomington and become part of the Indiana family again, I would say this: Relax, take a deep breath, calm yourself and don’t get carried away here. It’s one game, and it’s one game predicated by the fact that Indiana is the No. 1 team in the nation.  It was the preseason No. 1 team in the land for the first time since the 1979-80 team that Knight coached for the Hoosiers.

Could it be a first step to repairing relations? Maybe. But if I was someone at IU and hoping that would be the ultimate outcome here, I would have my doubts. It’s one game. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Hutchens then wrote of his last encounter with Knight:

Selfishly, I’m looking forward to see if he shakes my hand. I covered coach Knight his final two seasons at Indiana and he would actually had a pretty good professional relationship. But the last time I went to one of his speaking engagements where he met a receiving line afterwards and shook hands with former players and all of the old cronies, I decided to get in line and see if he acknowledge my presence. As he walked down the line, he shook hand after hand. He paused at the gentleman to my left and gave him a warm embrace. Then he looked at me. We made brief contact and … he kept right on walking and shook the hand of the person to my right. So I’m looking forward to seeing if I have any better luck Monday.

School daze: Long-time USA Today sportswriter makes transition to high school English teacher

The first day of school also marks the first day for scores of new teachers throughout the country.

However, only one of them is a 57-year-old who had a 30-plus year as a distinguished sportswriter at USA Today.

What in the world are you doing, Steve Wieberg?

“I’m terrified,” Wieberg said on the eve of his new life as a high school English teacher. “I feel like I’ve been dropped out of a helicopter right into the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.”

The new media landscape has seen many long-time sportswriters transition into new roles in life. Fortunately, Wieberg is making this lifestyle change out of choice and not because he lost his job due to newspaper cutbacks, as has been the case with so many others in the profession.

Wieberg was one of the most respected members of our fraternity, noted for his solid and reasoned coverage of college sports. He covered 29 straight Final Fours and 15 NCAA Conventions.

The grind, though, was taking its toll of Wieberg. He was getting tired of phone calls at 6:30 in the evening, telling him to take the next plane to Dallas or somewhere else.

I definitely can relate. It was one of the reasons why I left the Chicago Tribune in 2008.

“Your life is subject to the whims of breaking news,” Wieberg said. “You get a phone call and you’re off and running. That’s the job. I’m not quarreling with it. But I thought I had lost the balance between work and life in the last couple of years, and it only was going to skew further in that direction.”

Wieberg is referring to a major restructuring of the USA Today sports group, which is putting an increased emphasis on breaking news and setting the agenda. He said he was asked to be part of the investigative and enterprise team.

Wieberg, though, already had made up his mind. He was ready to walk away from the only career he had ever known.


Wieberg always enjoyed working with kids as a long-time coach for his son’s various teams. Last year, he did some substitute teaching.

“When I got through the Final Four, I decided I wanted to do something different,” Wieberg said.

Wieberg accepted a full-time position at Lawson (Mo.) High School. Despite working for the large circulation USA Today, he always maintained his small-town roots. Lawson, located 35 miles from Kansas City, has 2,400 people. And Wieberg says most of them know he is in a panic about his new job.

“I’ve become known as the town’s basket case,” Wieberg said.

Wieberg said he lost the “romantic notion” of teaching almost immediately once he began to digest all the material he had to teach.

“I won’t be uncomfortable standing in front of a classroom,” Wieberg said. “I will be uncomfortable if I can’t get through 50 minutes of a class. I’m telling the students that this will be the most collaborative class they’ve ever had. They’re going to help me get through this.”

I told Wieberg not to worry. He’s a pro’s pro and that will carry over from journalist to being a teacher.

Besides, putting up with Bob Knight all those years should make Wieberg well prepared for dealing with any obnoxious kids.

My words didn’t calm Wieberg’s nerves.

“School starts tomorrow,” Wieberg said. “I just want to make it through this week and then go from there.”


Steve, here are a couple of tips. Show your students this post and the Chronicle of Higher Education story about your move. Name another teacher at Lawson High who is getting this kind of press. They should be impressed.

And if things get derailed in the classroom, just entertain them with stories about Knight.




Updated Saturday flashback: The complete story of Dick and Jeremy Schaap encounters with Bobby Fischer

Updated: Jeremy just sent me the 13-minute version of his story on Bobby Fishcher. It details the relationship his father had the brilliant, but troubled chess legend. Schaap won an Emmy for the piece.

Earlier this week, I did an interview with Jeremy Schaap. Not surprisingly, two of his most memorable encounters were discussed: His 2000 interview with Bob Knight shortly after he was fired from Indiana; and an epic run-in with Bobby Fischer during a 2005 press conference in Iceland. Schaap eventually walked out on Fischer, but not before basically saying he was nuts, which he was (exchange comes at 2:30 mark of video).

“People ask me about Fischer and Knight all the time,” Schaap said. “At least once a week, I hear about Knight. Probably every other week, I hear about Fischer.”

Schaap was lauded for not letting Knight control his interview. It included this unforgettable exchange:

Schaap: Bob, we came here to do an interview. I’m asking you questions.

Knight: Well, then let me finish the answer. Is that OK, Jeremy, is that fair enough? Have I interrupted your questions yet?

Schaap: Yes.

Knight: No, I haven’t. You’ve interrupted my answers with your questions and then I’ve tried to get back. So let me finish.

Schaap: Please continue.

Knight: You’ve got a long way to go to be as good as your dad. You better keep that in mind.

Schaap: I appreciate that. What’s next? What do you do this year?

Now that Knight works at ESPN, I asked Schaap if he’s ever run into the former coach.

“I’ve run into him a couple of times, but he has not acknowledged that I’m there,” Schaap said. “Now it’s possible, he didn’t notice. I tend to think he is choosing to look the other way.”