Texas Tech coach Bobby Knight will never change. Further evidence came Tuesday afternoon during an interview with Dana Jacobson of ESPN's "Cold Pizza."
It was largely designed to promote his new six-episode ESPN reality series, "Knight School" (10 p.m. Sunday), but Jacobson naturally had other topics on her mind. Like the state of Indiana University basketball, where Knight's replacement, Mike Davis, announced his resignation this week.
Knight, who had been joking with Jacobson moments earlier, immediately said he wouldn't discuss Indiana. When Jacobson tried again, Knight bolted from his seat and announced the interview was over.
She was illustrating one of the rules that Knight reveals in Sunday's opening episode: "there is a big difference between hearing and listening."
Jacobson wasn't listening to Knight's efforts to remind her who was in control. He may owe ESPN an interview to promote "Knight School" but he was going to do it on his own terms.
You really couldn't blame him for walking off. He told Jacobson he wasn't going to answer questions about IU and she should have known that's been his long-standing policy. She was asking for a dramatic gesture and she got it.
Unfortunately, there are no such theatrics in the first hour of "Knight School," the first reality show in years that I've actually eagerly awaited. Any basketball fan has to love the "Survivor"-like concept, which has 16 walk-on candidates trying to impress the Texas Tech coach over a two-week period of tough drills, tough talk ("don't think I'm beyond cutting everybody," says Knight) and tough scrimmages against scholarship players. The walk-on who best fits the way Tech plays is supposed to survive.
If you're expecting the typical Knight fireworks in the opener -- kicked chairs, angry lectures and berating of players -- you're going to be sadly disappointed. Knight is initially a relative teddy bear, who cracks jokes with his three-man staff of assistants, Pat Knight (his son), Stew Robinson (a former Hoosier) and Chris Beard, praises the hard work of those competing and tells them of the importance of reading Rudyard Kipling's "If."
The players, meanwhile, simply adore Knight and are uniformly excited about the possibility of playing for the coaching legend. The show would be more interesting if they could play or if we initially could tell if they could play. You root for them all to live out their fantasy. But if the show lacks one important element at the beginning it is being able to judge how good these competitors are.
Knight proves he has a little Donald Trump in him by keeping a flamboyant player who is about as likely to be a Knight guy as Jacobson is to get a Christmas card. The player is everything that Knight detests about a player. He dribbles too much, is selfish and wants attention focused on him.
Maybe the kid is a challenge to Knight. More likely, the coach decided he would help make a good TV show for awhile. Knight often makes good TV fodder. He provides some entertaining moments during his lectures, including a funny PG-13 explanation of how to set a pick.
He also gives several simple coaching tips in the first hour about the importance of following the ball and moving without it, making it must-see TV for coaches of youth basketball. The show's adoration of Knight gets to be a little much, but I look forward to weekly classes of "Knight School."
* Now that it is the weekend, local viewing of CBC's live coverage of the Winter Olympics is expected to be on the rise in Buffalo. On Saturday's first day of competition, CBC had ratings in the 3 to 4 range here. On Sunday afternoon, the ratings grew even higher. The 5.1 that CBC reached at 2:15 p.m. was higher than NBC's coverage of a NASCAR event.
Channel 2's Olympic weekend afternoon ratings were double that of CBC's here, but the Canadian network often was the second highest-rated station locally last weekend. Its Olympic coverage out-rated college basketball games and NBA games carried by Buffalo stations.
CBC's prime time coverage, which, like NBC's, is taped, hasn't had anywhere near the viewership of its live afternoon coverage and hasn't made a dent in Channel 2's prime time viewership.