Calling games with Bob Knight


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Posted by madcityradio.com on February 11, 2009 at 11:42:37:

Behind the Mike: Calling games with Bob Knight has been 'interesting and fascinating,' Musburger says

Mike Lucas TCT, 2/11/2009 8:13 am
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There is an old-school chemistry and compatibility between Brent Musburger and Bob Knight, resulting from their frame of reference and mutual respect, making it sound like they have been a "team" far longer than they have been. While Musburger, 69, has ditched the suit and tie and deferred to Knight, 68, and his more casual wardrobe, you're not going to pull the wool (sweater) over either's eyes.

They've seen too much.

"It has been interesting and fascinating at the same time," Musburger said of his partnership with Knight on ESPN's telecasts of college basketball. "He's very perceptive and very quick, and you can see why he was such a good bench coach when you sit next to him and broadcast a game. I measure (television) analysts by when they talk, how interested am I in what they're saying. I'm fascinated by what he says because he sees things I don't see, and I've been around a lot of basketball. What I don't think people understand is that he has a great sense of humor."

Knight? Funny?

Now, that's funny.

But there was a hilarious segment on their first broadcast together (Jan. 22, Purdue at Minnesota) where Knight exhibited how challenging it was for him to coach a game in Williams Arena because of the elevated playing surface. With one foot on the bench and the other straddling the floor, Knight demonstrated his technique for "getting in the ear" of an official, much of which was bleeped out.

At one point during the broadcast, Knight removed his headset and playfully teased one of the zebras about missing a traveling call, which continues to be one of the Hall of Famer's pet peeves with the way the game is generally called. Knight always has had issues with travel -- or, rather, the distance that officials travel to do games, and the number of games they're doing in any given week.

"I've said for years that there's no way officials should work more than three games a week," Knight has protested repeatedly. "To have some guy 54 or 55 years old referee six games a week is a real disservice to the kids who are playing ... twwhese guys are so greedy that they end up trying to work these six games, and they're not capable of doing that. I mean, just check out the schedules and you'll rarely see where kids play three games a week, and these kids are 19, 20 and 21 years old."w

By most accounts, Ted Hillary is one of the more respected and trusted officials in the game today. He's routinely identified as "TV Ted Hillary" because he usually draws the high-profile television matchups. Hillary is going on 60 and, physically, he's slowing down noticeably. Last week, he worked games on Tuesday (Purdue at Ohio State), Wednesday (Iowa at Indiana) and Thursday (Penn State at Michigan). He was off Friday and worked games Saturday (Minnesota at Ohio State) and Sunday (Wisconsin at Penn State).

That's five games in six days, commuting from Columbus, Ohio to Bloomington, Ind., to Ann Arbor, Mich., back to Columbus and out to State College, Pa. This was not meant to be an indictment of Hillary, the official. On the contrary. On most nights, he still might be a better alternative than some of his peers who are better rested. But it does support one of Knight's points of contention as a coach, and now as a TV color analyst.

"If Bob wants to stay in our business and stay with analyzing basketball, he'd be one of the best -- no question about it," Musburger opined. "I think he's a little bit different (than he was during his turbulent years at Indiana). I hate to use the word 'mellow' with him. But for the lack of a better word, I'll say that about him right now. He's still feisty about referees and things of that nature. But I think that he's matured along with everyone else.''

Knight will be a member of ESPN's GameDay crew, which will originate its weekly show Saturday morning from the Kohl Center. The last time Knight coached a game in Madtown, he went home mad after exposing us to his feisty, fiery side. In the 2000 regular-season finale, the Badgers upset Indiana 56-53. Knight was most upset over the 1.4 seconds that were left on the clock when the officials ended the game as the fans stormed the floor.

Despite being right, Knight lost his argument and punctuated his anger by throwing down a clipboard. Knight quickly composed himself to do a postgame interview with the CBS broadcasting team of Dick Enberg and the late Al McGuire.

In this context, Musburger was asked if he has found himself deferring to Knight because, well, he's Bob Knight, the General. "Good question," he said. "I don't defer very easily sometimes. But I suppose that I would to him. I can't think of a specific example. But if we got into a debate about something, I'd probably, in the end, defer to the 902 wins."

That would be Knight's career total. It may only feel like all 902 wins came at the expense of Wisconsin. Before that rare 2000 triumph over the Hoosiers, the Badgers had lost 35 of the last 36 to Indiana, dating to 1980 (Knight's ninth season in Bloomington and the Big Ten). Since stepping away from the game -- after seven seasons at Texas Tech -- there have been reports that Knight might be interested in returning to coaching. Musburger has heard the speculation.

"He probably still has the itch to coach again," Musburger acknowledged. "But I think he needs to be in the right place. He coaches basketball a certain way, and I don't think he'd ever change that." An uncompromising mind-set that enhances his appeal as an analyst.


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