ORLANDO, Fla. -- As the college basketball world prepares for the Final Four, legendary coach – and often the game’s most notorious personality – Bobby Knight joins David Feherty for a candid conversation about his life, career and love of golf on the next episode of Feherty, Monday at 10 p.m. ET on Golf Channel.
Ohio native Robert Montgomery Knight coached college basketball for 45 years and tallied 902 NCAA Division I wins, the most in history at the time of his retirement in 2008. Those victories now stand third only behind his former player and current Duke head coach, Mike Kryzyewski, and Jim Boeheim of Syracuse. While one of the game’s most innovative coaches and greatest teachers – having graduated most of his student athletes – Knight also was one of its most controversial and abrasive, often known for his combative nature with referees and the media.
Short on basketball acumen, Feherty got up to speed quickly, using his trademark uncanny interview style to engage Knight and bring out answers in the coach both honest and revealing.
“There’s actually a depth and genuine realness to the man though that I suspect many people, even those that know him best don’t often see,” Feherty said during the show’s introduction.
He also got a quick lesson from Knight on the proper technique on how to throw a chair, spoofing Knight’s infamous incident during a 1985 game against Purdue when Knight, frustrated by an official’s call, flung a plastic chair across the court.
Their ensuing conversation covered Knight’s coaching philosophy – which often was compared to a military leader – his days as a player at The Ohio State University with the likes of future NBA superstars John Havlicek and Jerry Lucas, and his regret for never having coached at his alma mater; his fondness for fellow Buckeye Jack Nicklaus; his coaching records; his feelings about the NCAA; and the way he wishes to be remembered.
On coaching style/philosophy:
“I felt my job was to get the most out of you. No matter how difficult it was for me to bring that out of you, that was my job as a teacher.”
“I have a responsibility here to see that these 12 or 14 kids that I’ve got playing basketball go through the experience with a much better opportunity to life than they would had they not had this experience.”
“The dribble has overcome the game, like in golf in a way, the drive has overcome the game.”
On Jack Nicklaus:
“When Jack was playing, I always rooted for him. There was something about him that I felt that very, very few great athletes had, and that was a real humble approach to the sport and a great individual humility in what he accomplished.”
“I think that competitive drive in those two sports really helped him as a golfer. I always felt that he had an advantage over a guy that had never played any sport except golf. Any time I watched him I thought, you know, this isn’t a golfer playing golf, this is an athlete playing golf.”
On regret about never coaching at Ohio State:
“The two days we spent in Columbus, the way they reacted to me during the introduction going into the Hall of Fame at the halftime of the football game, I said, ‘You know, I am really sad that I never went there to coach.’ And I had opportunities to do so over the years. But at this point in my life, I wish that I would have gone there to coach when I had the opportunity to.”
On the NCAA:
“I’m probably number-one on the NCAA hit list.”
“The NCAA has allowed college basketball to become a minor league for the NBA.”
On his legacy:
“He was honest in what he did and he tried to make kids better. And if I could have people that felt that way, then I think I would die happy.”
As a surprise, Feherty uncovered some old video excerpts from a local golf show Knight hosted with longtime Indiana University golf coach Sam Carmichael, which features expletive outtakes of a frustrated Knight trying to hit out of a bunker. The antics live on as popular viral video for Internet surfers. “My hope always was that my mother never saw me in that sand trap,” Knight said.
Knight also complimented Feherty on his Season Two interview with basketball legend Bill Russell sharing his thoughts on Russell, “As long as I’ve been in coaching, Bill Russell was not the best basketball player, but Bill Russell was the most valuable player ever to play a sport. I don’t care what the sport is, Russell’s the most valuable,” said Knight. He expounded on Russell’s NCAA championships during his junior and senior years, his Olympic gold medal and 11 NBA championships with the Celtics. “That’s 15 years and 14 major championships and there’s nobody in the history of sport – King Kong wasn’t that good – nobody in the history of sport that has won like Bill Russell has,” he said.