On Saturday ESPN is bringing its popular College GameDay show to Madison, the traveling production's only stop at a Big Ten school this season. The show's format features a crew of former players and coaches breaking down the week's action in front of frenzied student fans.
Seated at the desk alongside former Duke player Jay Bilas and legendary Notre Dame coach Digger Phelps will be former Indiana and Texas Tech coach Bobby Knight.
Known as "The General," Knight is college basketball's most successful Division I coach, with 902 career victories and three national titles. He retired from coaching last year, receiving accolades for his influential strategy and commitment to academics. His philosophies on man-to-man defense and motion offense are still widely taught at all levels, and ESPN has brilliantly cast Knight on GameDay in the role of affable, self-deprecating teacher.
The performance has been so good that it's helped distract viewers from Knight's reputation as perhaps the biggest horse's ass in the history of college sports.
Knight was run out of Indiana in 2000 amid charges that he pushed around an undergrad who had addressed him as "Knight." Of course, that was just one example of his buffoonish behavior, which included intimidating other coaches, referees and reporters. Even Badger coach Bo Ryan has a story about how Knight demeaned him in a casual conversation when Ryan was still an assistant coach.
Back in the Field House days, when Badger basketball fans were irreverent and loud, Knight caught a lot of hell. Maybe the current crop of students, who typically can't be bothered to make it to their seats in time for tip-off, can rally and rudely welcome "The General" back to town on Saturday morning.