Some basketball coaches simply look better in retirement. The iconic John Wooden, who with 20 more months of living will be 100, hung up his whistle at age 64 and never looked back. Dean Smith and Denny Crum were 66 and 64, respectively, when they put down their clipboards and called it a career.
No doubt all three could still X and O with the game's elite, but do we really want to see them straining to have their voices heard in the heat of battle? Of course not. We prefer to remember them in their coaching prime — Wooden with rolled-up game program in one hand, a tradition Crum, his one-time assistant coach at UCLA, carried all the way to Louisville.
Which brings us to one Bob Knight, a man with 69 candles on his next birthday cake in October and nothing left to prove. Among the juicier tidbits the sport's rumor mill has spit out recently is that Knight is actually interested in coaching at the University of Georgia where Dennis Felton recently was canned after an uninspiring 175-game lesson in mediocrity.
Bob Knight and UGA VII. Now there's a visual. Maybe it's the red sweaters.
There is no question in my mind that Knight still possesses a keener coaching mind and sharper wit than 99 percent of this nation's population, but in 2009 that just isn't enough.
To keep up with the Donovans in the Southeastern Conference, Knight would have to hit the road with the vigor of someone half his age, be visible and engaging at all of the summer sneaker camps when he would rather be lining up 10-foot putts and cursing the golfing gods with a cast of his hunting buddies.
Knight would have to convince not only the blue-chip player, but his parents, that Athens is the place to be at a time when Florida, LSU, Tennessee, Kentucky and other high-profile programs were lighting up the kid's cellphone. Never mind that Knight would probably be a decade or two older than the parents, who, in turn, would be crazy not to wonder if Orville, Ohio's, most-famous product would even be on the Bulldogs' bench by the start of their son's junior season.
Knight on his angriest, most-mean-spirited day can't intimidate the clock much less outrun it. The dark-haired, sideburned, plaid-jacketed Bob couldn't, which means later versions didn't have a prayer. You know, sweater-pulled-up-over-the-paunch Bob, whip-cracking Bob, about-to-be-fired-by-Myles-Brand Bob and, most recently, Texas Tech Bob.
At this juncture Georgia hiring Knight would be a two-pronged mistake. The Bulldogs program would appear desperate in an attempt to regain some traces of national relevance; Knight risks being cast as a has-been who came back because his enormous ego refused to allow him to be out of the public eye.
On the brief list of basketball mentors Knight truly admires is the late Pete Newell. The one-time University of California coach got out of the college game at age 45, but contributed to contribute to the sport in other ways the remaining 48 years of his life.
Knight needs to follow Newell's lead. Mentor young coaches. Conduct camps. Make yourself accessible so that these younger generations can tap into that vast reservoir of basketball knowledge.
But, Bob, don't coach. Unless it's a favorite golf course or hunting locale you're thinking about, keep Georgia off your mind.