In the spring of 2012 I was working at Wabash College as an assistant football coach and director of student activities. Student activities was funded by the Student Senate and we scheduled national acts, speakers and a variety of entertainment. Briane Shelbourne was Senate president and approached me about bringing Coach Bob Knight to campus for a lecture. We had the funds and coach Knight’s agent had also worked with us. We set up Chadwick Court for an audience of 1,000 people. Coach was making tours at this time speaking to college campuses.
That afternoon Knight’s agent called me to see if Coach could come early to watch NFL football. I did not think he would want to be bothered by students while watching the game so invited him to our home. He wanted to watch the Steelers because one of his former teammates at Ohio State was an assistant for the Steelers, Dick LaBeau.
Judy had just made a pumpkin pie with peach iced tea. Coach never watched the game. He sat for two hours in my Lazy Boy chair telling Woody Hayes stories. He and Woody spent many hours in conversation while he was a student and Woody was head football coach. Upon leaving, Coach Knight noticed my fishing pictures in the garage. This immediately changed our discussion to a fishing trip down Sugar Creek with a guide.
After arriving back on campus, Knight had a “meet and greet” with other coaches and campus leaders. Wabash Coach Mac Petty, also from Orrville, Ohio served as moderator for the lecture. Knight was so gracious in his presentation. He spoke of his times and about the tragic accident of Landon Turner.
The most humous recollection I have from his speech involved Coach K. As a player at Army, Coach K was a starting guard, but was told to never, ever take a shot. Later in the game Coach K gets a steal and drives wide open to the basket. He abruptly stops at the goal, looks over to the bench and passes the ball.
As Coach Knight was leaving we were making plans for our spring fishing trip down Sugar Creek. Judy and I now regret that we never asked to have a picture with the legend. It was such a surreal afternoon and evening. He was great and so gracious. Several weeks later I kept up a correspondence with his wife. He had began to fade physically and we had to cancel our trip. I really regret not making that trip to Bloomington. I think he would have welcomed our company.
God bless you, coach.
Steve and Judy House