Just a quick public service announcement before this week’s Countdown:
Bobby Knight is still willing to be your coach.
Not that he’s going to ask.
But if you call him, I’m sure he’d come.
Not that he’s going to beg.
But if you’re looking for a basketball coach, Bobby Knight really wants a job.
Not that he’s going to tell you that he really wants a job because legends don’t like to admit that publicly — they just prefer to wait for the horns, the fawning and the welcoming committee.
But if you have a downtrodden basketball program that’s had difficulty recruiting, what better way to turn things around than with an old, bitter man who has no real desire to recruit any more?
Knight leaked that he wanted to coach Georgia. He waited by the phone. Nobody called.
Knight leaked that he wanted to coach Arizona. He waited by the phone. Nobody called.
He settled for a Guitar Hero commercial.
For that, he had to take off his pants.
In one of his classic top 10 press conferences moments (No. 8), Knight sarcastically explained the difference between football and basketball for media members, then added: “I’m trying to help you young guys in this profession you’ve chosen — it’s one or two steps above prostitution.”
Just wondering, Bob. Who’s leaning against the lamp post at 2 a.m. now?
Roy Williams is a great basketball coach. Nothing is or was going to change that. It was important to get that out first before this: Given the win-championships-or-you-are-flotsam-to-me! attitude that too often permeates sports, Coach Roy just prevented one of those career-defining faceplants that tends to wreck biographies. Let me explain.
9. He is Heeled!
This North Carolina team has to go down as one of the most ridiculously deep and talented college basketball teams ever — at least since last year’s team, which got smoked in the national semis to Kansas (ouch). Had the Tar Heels lost, that would have made seven Final Fours for Williams in his career (four at Kansas, three at Carolina) with one championship to show for it — that in his second season in Chapel Hill with a roster mostly recruited by Matt Doherty. Instead, this is what we see now as Williams’ bottom line at North Carolina: six seasons, three Final Fours, two championships — which ties him with Dean Smith. See how quickly that changed?
If you want to know why people love Roy Williams, here’s one reason. After after the Tar Heels waxed Michigan State in the title game to complete a 34-4 season (70-7 in the last two years), Williams gave all the credit to his players, even if he dropped into third person to do it: “These players took Roy Williams on one fantastic ride.” And then this, on tying Smith, his mentor, in championships: “Roy Williams ain’t that good. But Old Roy has some big-game players. Roy Williams and Dean Smith don’t fit in the same sentence. I believe that. I’m not being humble.”
When Roy Williams leaves, Bobby Knight will be interested. Not that he’ll admit it. Unless they phone. Which they won’t.
6. Tiger favored, sky blue
Checked with several dark-alley brokerage houses and, yes, shocking but true, Tiger Woods is favored to win the Masters. The odds generally go something like this: 1. Tiger Woods: 2-1, or less. 2. Phil Mickelson: somewhere from 7-1 to 20-1. 3. Padraig Harrington, Sergio Garcia and that kid in front of the line at Mountasia who can’t decide between the blue ball, the red ball and the green ball: 179-1. Look at this way: Chances are, there’s going to be another great photo op for the slobbering males of the world, which pretty much covers the gender. Just wondering: Is there any
professional golfer who isn’t married to/dating a hot blonde? I mean, how does it work on the Tour? “Congratulations, Sir. Here’s your Tour card and your Pings. Now, you have a choice of blondes. Would you prefer a super model, maybe someone with the-girl-next-door look, or the daughter of another former golfer?” And on that subject, we give you: Elin Nordegren (Tiger Woods), Amy Mickelson (Phil Mickelson) and Morgan Leigh Norman (daughter of Greg Norman, with Sergio Garcia).
If we go by total correct responses, the Thrashers’ Don Waddell, Falcons’ Thomas Dimitroff and Hawks’ Rick Sund tied in the Countdown’s inaugural Final Four pool at four points each. Waddell was the only one to have the correct championship game match-up — but unfortunately went with the school from his homeland. (He actually went to Northern Michigan, but they just missed the field of 64.) If an escalating points system is applied (one for each correct Final Four team, two for each semi winner, three for the correct champion, Dimitroff and Sund tied at seven points and Waddell was third with six. We’ll try to have more defined rules next year. But in an point system, the Braves’ Frank Wren is dead last. The Louisville-Florida State final didn’t quite pan out. He gave me some lame excuse like, “I haven’t watched many games.” Like that stopped my daughter from winning the house pool. But Wren is 1-0 where it counts. Which reminds me . . .
Derek Lowe, eight scoreless innings. Jordan Schafer, home run in his first at-bat. Brian McCann, two-run jack. Jeff Francoeur, home run and sane. Is this heaven? No it’s just the opener. But ain’t it great how one game followed by an off day and therefore with a 48-hour shelf life suddenly has some trying to calculate a magic number? (The answer is 161.) “I haven’t been in a situation where that win or loss [in an opener] has been a strong indicator for the season,” Wren said in an email. Smart man. . . .
So I went back to 1991, which seemed to make sense because almost everything prior to that was kind of ugly. The Braves are now 12-7 in openers since then. Let’s throw out 1994 (when the Braves won their opener), since there were no playoffs that season, and this year, because there’s no playoffs yet. That leaves them 10-7. In the 10 years they won the opener, the Braves went to the post-season eight times (80 percent), won three pennants (1992-95-96) and one World Series. In the seven seasons the team lost its opener, it went to the playoffs six times (86 percent), won two pennants (1991-99) and no Series. This thin research confirms there is no discernible difference between winning and losing on Opening Day, as it affects the future. However, when C.C. Sabathia allows six runs and eight hits and walks five in 4 1/3 innings against the Orioles and the Yankees get flattened in their season opener, you are encouraged to laugh hysterically and mock until the next game.
I joined a cause on Facebook the other day, “Don’t Let Newspapers Die,” which would be more inspiring than depressing if the total members, 76,422, did not currently exceed the circulation totals of so many newspapers. There’s a nice piece in the Wall Street Journal about the ripple effect of the industry’s decline — the sudden emptiness in so many baseball stadium press boxes. The story quotes our own David O’Brien, president of the Baseball Writers Association of America. How bad are things economically? The Washington Post and the Baltimore Sun — once major competitors — are now sharing content on the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles.
Yes, somebody floated Bobby Knight’s name in Memphis. The job just went to 31-year-old Josh Pastner, who hadn’t even been born (1978) before Knight won his first title (1976). Oops.
Jeff Schultz, fighting to stay relevant with peeps under 40, can be reached via email (email@example.com), Facebook, Tweeter (SchultzAJC) or carrier pigeon (make a right off 400).