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Bobby Knight 3: The Program Falls Apart Not Even Two Recruiting Classes In
About a year ago I did some hubs in which Bobby Knight got the last laugh though Dane Fife nearly turned it into a frown, and how he was fired and all that. That was part one and two. This is part three -- the sequel that, like Spider-Man and Superman and Karate Kid and Tim Burton's Batman and Iron Man and Lethal Weapon and Fantastic Four...sucked so bad that the franchise was irreparably destroyed. All because the greatest coach in the history of sports listened to the wisdom of every authority on the matter from Tommy Lasorda to Jimmy Santiago Baca in regards to the proper time to be an asshole. You don't do it at a funeral. You don't do it at a child's terrible dance recital. You don't do it to kids in fact in any situation...except when it comes to winning college basketball. Your man and mine Bobby Knight is about to enjoy the Michael Caine spoils of a paycheck just for being alive. His legacy, unlike LeBron's, is about to be more like...well hell...Kobe's and Michael Vick's...you thought it would never ever happen. You thought they were tarnished. Destroyed. Ruined. Left to hubpages.com writers to remind the choir that Bobby Knight was the man behind the legendary A.J. Moye game versus Duke University in the 2002 South Regional. Duke University, my favorite sports topic, is a place where 18-year old phenoms who have no business doing anything else but going pro right fucking now...actually come! The 90s made Duke University as crazy as it actually is. My tales of being at Cameron Indoor Stadium and Krezyvzyszkwsi-ville would bore the both of us. I wanted to be a Dookie so bad. I used to practice my left handed dribble every day by dribbling a tennis ball, using a fork, brushing my teeth, sleeping on it to make the blood flow better...I would have given anything when I was 13-17 to be Wojo or Bobby Hurley. And that is why what Bobby Knight did in part 2 of our series honoring the Big Red General was so special...and has forever solidified his legacy on planet Earth as a greater coach then even Coach K...every one in the world wants to go to Duke...meanwhile Bobby Knight, unlike a dipshit you're about to meet named Kelvin Sampson, was able to put a recruiting class together that beat Coach K's Dookies in 02 back in the fall of 98-99...with he and each of his assistants using the appropriate, legal number of phone calls to the then high school juniors and seniors A.J. Moye, Tom Coverdale, Greg Newton and according to Dick Vitale -- "Jared JEFFRIES BABY!!!!!!! HE'S AWWWWWE--SOME!!!! DUKE WAS ALL OVER HIS BABY SOFT NUTS, AMER-I-CAAAAAAAA!!!!! AND HE'S AN INDIANA HOOSIER!!!!! A DIAPER DANDY!!! A STAR IS BORN RIGHT HERE IN ASSEMBLY HALL BAAAAABEEEEEE!!!!!"
Kelvin Sampson was the assistant coach at Michigan State and Montana Tech before becoming the coach at Oklahoma. They've been to one Final Four and one elite eight over his long long tenure, but they always won at least 20 games and every third Conference title in the Big Eight.
Sampson was a laid back dude. He had a lot of clout in the Division 1 college basketball coach's circle. Guys like Jim Boeheim and Mike Jarvis hung out with him and such. Sampson figured that he was growing important enough that he could ignore the tedious little pains in the ass that come with being a college coach -- the extensive list of rules, listed in tiny print because they're so many. Sampson might have been accepted in the coach's circle, but little did he know that in the world of NCAA college basketball -- the coaches are the god damn Sex in the City girls. Catty whiny little bitches who have put together the absolute fruitiest league we have when it comes to the major sports that matter. Out of pro football, college football, the NBA, MLB, NHL, it's college basketball that has the biggest vagina. The game, the advertising, the fans, are all so corny and awful and FRUITY...just FRUITY. Their whole "One Shining Moment" thing they do at the end of the national championship game, that tender song while they're cutting the nets, the way Krysckwskeiwskzxswkswski is always getting away with boasting by hyping up the team that his team managed to beat, the way they won't play best of seven series between the top eight teams and just make everyone else go home, the way a bunch of college kids will jump up and down in unison in the student section and go OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, and it starts with these coaches. ONLY BOBBY KNIGHT historically was ever cool. Everyone else was either a crook who paid his players, a puss who believed winning wasn't the only thing, or a pussy ass crook responsible for the rules and in-game strategies governing the way the game is played. And one of those rules was that each recruiter -- coach and assistants -- are assigned a specific number of phone calls they can make. Kelvin Sampson had spent his time at Oklahoma immediately rebuilding a shitty program and winning and winning...and so assumed that nobody would care about something so stupid as a phone call.
Ladies, you've gotten phone calls from plenty of guys...how did half of THAT shit turn out?
But it turned out that many players who were making verbal commitments to play for Roy Williams and Jud Heathcoat and Tommy Amaker and Bill Self were actually being snatched away due to late night phone calls from each other. So there was in-fighting. Yet these slimy sons of bitches' entire careers were built on being the beneficiaries of nasty rumors regarding rival programs. That was something that could never be regulated. So THEY'RE covered. Now they just have to deal with their opponents -- bust them for all the other things they do -- which CAN be traced and detected.
The Indiana Hoosiers under Kelvin Sampson begin the season as the #8 team in the land. Senior D.J. White and Freshman Eric Gordon would join hands and be the Big Ten's new Phi Slamma Jamma. White and Gordon were awesome, and there's a reason I can't tell you the names of the other guys, because some of them will get into some shit and end up transferring and it's just not kosher to talk about them specifically.
When we left off at the end of Part 2, Maryland had just beaten the Hoosiers for the 2002 National Championship. Mike Davis was at the helm and in 2006, he would resign. We had turned into slop under a man who wasn't trying to fix something that had always been working. Unlike Bobby Knight, who treated the most pubescent 24-year old seven-footer like a 3-year old -- prying into their personal lives and off-court conduct -- Mike Davis would make this the one thing in Bobby Knight's repetroire that he chose to tweak. Giving them the respect they desired was Mike Davis's way of holding them accountable. You wanted to be treated like a man...there you go...you're a man...now hold up your end and be a good asset to this team. Don't fall into Jason Williams when he's attempting a three and we're down four after he scored 8 points in 20 seconds to take a team down 10 into overtime to win.
Unfortunately, the Indiana Hoosiers players from 2003 on...with all the drama both GREEEAT and FUUUUUCK that occurs when you're one of the twelve kings of Bloomington, would shy away from the uncomfortable challenges, and thus....not hold up their end.
Mike Davis suddenly became a premier example of the reason we laugh when a substitute teacher walks into a classroom of thugs and says "by the time we're done together, I will have changed your lives". Because these men have no fucking idea how much patience that takes. Bobby Knight, scaring the shit out of everyone in IU history save for Michael Lewis, was able to have that patience because he'd get the players to exercise self-discipline off the bat.So instead, Davis resigns, and Kelvin Sampson enthusiastically enters. He's already serving a punishment for a sum of 550 illegal phone calls made at Oklahoma as he takes command of an Indiana Hoosier team that...unlike the miracle years of 2001 and 2002...was head to toe Mike Davis recruits.
As he turns them around, Sampson tries to stretch out the hard work so it doesn't feel as oppressively new as it in fact is. Like Davis didn't want to mess with Knight's stuff, Sampson didn't want to mess with Davis's, and was truly interesting in putting a winning team out there. He would study and work and be on that phone day and night for Indiana for that first year, all the while several of his players...according to Eric Gordon...had fallen into "drugs".
Drugs could be anything from weed to meth. It was never specified. But clearly Sampson and Davis had created an environment where their players actually thought they'd get away with habitual using. That was specified.
And so back to the 2007-08 season.
The Hoosiers start out 3-0. Not bad. Still #8 in the country, but sure to climb any day now.
They lose the fourth game. Down to #15.
It will take the Hoosiers TWO WHOLE MONTHS of winning and winning and winning and trying and winning...to get back to #8.
And just when they do, they lose to UConn and Wisconsin back to back.
Back to #17.
So now put yourselves in the shoes of this handful of druggie players -- big contributors on a team that was #8 in the country, and now all the work in the world following ONE SINGLE LOSS was required to reclaim that satisfaction...and now ONE SINGLE LOSS and they're in danger of losing the ranking all together. I'd be hitting the crackpipe too. Shit.
Sure enough, the Hoosiers will go from 17-1....to going 25-7. First round knock outs in both the Big Ten Tourney and in the NCAAs.
That's the last straw for Sampson.
The IU board would kick him out but there was a catch. Sampson could have sued for wrongful termination because Indiana University, the sweethearts that they are...were firing him solely on the RUMOR that he was doing the illegal call thing. Oh sure it was shown later on that he had, but not at the time. The Hoosiers had avoided major penalties from the NCAA by choosing to handle the matter internally. Famously, they said that they would get to the bottom of it in a "week". Because they had their minds made up. Rumors were grounds for termination.
Meanwhile rumors would also be grounds for the success of his so called friends who busted him. It was deemed unethical across the board by the other college coaches that Sampson had snatched Eric Gordon from Illinois long after the Illinois coaches had taken care of every possible detail of signing him save for the actual signing part. They would then, however, proceed on with spreading NEW rumors to recruits about Indiana's future should any of them decide to go there. Probation can be anything from the minor -- excessive paperwork -- to the major -- post-season and TV bans. These high school seniors weren't sure what the situation was because as the Indiana administration handled matters internally, they kept the situation off of ESPN for the kids to figure out for themselves!!!!!!!! And thus...upon Sampson's dismissal, five players would transfer from Indiana, with a few trying to play for Mike Davis at UAB and being cut for not only the same stuff they did at Indiana, but for Davis recognizing the gall these kids had to assume he'd put up with it.
Two of which were starters who skipped a mandatory meeting, and then were told by interim coach Dan Dakich that if they didn't attend a 6 A.M. running session, they'd be kicked off the team.
They were like "WHAT?! Fuck this guy, he's not kicking nobody off, we're the starters! He's not gonna kick us out for missing a single stupid RUN?! a RUN?!"
And so they ditched.
And were gone.
Today, like they always have been for six decades now, Indiana University's men's basketball team is allowed to play in the post season. They lost one single scholarship. One. And the restrictions that have been placed on the assistants has nothing to do with any of you. So if you're real good in basketball...and like hot bitches...and want a guaranteed game against Kentucky...and want to be on CBS, ESPN, and all that stuff...please come to Indiana and help save our Hoosiers. They suck now. Something that would have never happened in the first place had it not been for the dismissal...of the one and only Robert Montgomery Knight.