Bob Knight Comes to Tressel's Defense
By Tony Gerdeman
Since the news of Ohio State's latest
NCAA violation broke a couple of days ago, this time surrounding Jim
Tressel himself, the Buckeye head coach has been under punditry fire
from all angles, and for good reason. But on Wednesday morning,
Tressel finally had someone speaking out for the newly-embattled
Speaking to ESPN Radio's 'Mike &
Mike in the Morning', Bob Knight, who is one of the few people who can get away with
calling Tressel “Jimmy”, came to the defense of
his fellow coach.
“I will say this about the situation,
there is no coach in college sport that is a better example in my
mind of what coaching is all about and what it should be and how
things should be done than Jimmy Tressel,” he said.
“He has done a great job at Ohio
State, not because he's won a lot of games, but because he has won a
lot of games doing things the absolute right way.
"I think he would
be at the top of the heap when it came to picking guys that did
things the way they were supposed to be done. There isn't anybody
that's better in that regard than Jim Tressel is.”
Knight, who was the long-time
basketball coach at Indiana where he won three national titles, and
also a former Buckeye basketball player himself, admittedly wasn't up
to speed on everything that had occurred, and it clearly wasn't the
direction Knight ever intended on heading in when pressed. Even when
critical of Tressel, he always followed up with what he quite
obviously believed to be a trump card—the coach's character.
“If that is the case, and then it
comes to my attention, then I've got to do something about it,”
Knight said when asked to put himself in Tressel's shoes.
“And if it did come to Jim's
attention and he failed to do anything about it, then that's
something that he should have taken care of. But that being said, I
still say what I said about Jim Tressel and his overall approach to
While defending Tressel the man, and
semi-admonishing Tressel the coach, Knight didn't waste much time
pointing a second finger at the NCAA, specifically their myriad of
rules and bylaws.
“I think it's absolutely ridiculous,”
said Knight, concerning Tressel's two-game suspension.
“I think if something like that comes
up [the selling of apparel], because it's not the most noticeable of
rules, it's a rather obscure rule, and they'll say, 'Well, he should
know all the rules'. Nobody - God Himself - could not quote every rule
in the NCAA law book. And in fact, God would call on the disciples
to decipher it for him.”
However, not knowing a rule and
breaking it is still a punishable offense. But a plea of ignorance
would pale in comparison if it could be proven that Tressel lied to
the NCAA about when he knew what, and exactly what he knew. However,
even when presented with this very scenario, Knight continued to
stand firm in his defense of Tressel
“Well, then you have some severity to
the whole situation,” he said, posed with the notion that Tressel
lied to the NCAA.
“And again you've got to keep in mind
that I'm not conversant with all that took place, but again, I go
back to what I said about Jim Tressel, if I was the father of a kid
that played football, he's the kind of coach I'd like for him to play
under. And I feel very strongly about that. So if there's a problem
here where he screwed up, is he the first coach to ever screw
something up? No.”
That's just about where the
conversation ended. Mike and Mike began saying their goodbyes to the
former coach, but before he said his own goodbyes, he wanted to make
one last statement regarding Tressel.
“Let me make one last comment, if I
was capable of making a stronger defense for Jim Tressel, I would.
Because he is a guy that I have tremendous respect for, and a great
feeling of appreciation for how he goes about things as a coach. And
that comes from me, as a coach, thinking that way about
another coach. I couldn't say anything more about him than I already
have because there's just nobody that I would feel more strongly
about in terms of doing what's right than Jim Tressel.”
Knight's final comments carrying as
much weight as the show's individual listeners would allow.
Did he say Jim Tressel did no wrong?
No. He couldn't. Tressel admitted to wrong-doing. Knight merely
spoke to the character of the man in question, and it's clear where
he stood in that regard.
While everybody else is busy pointing
out his flaws, Bob Knight wanted people to know about the Jim Tressel
that he knew. The man and the coach. His opinion doesn't seem to have
changed at all despite the situation that Tressel finds himself in now.
It also doesn't appear that his opinion will change any time soon.
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