On Dec. 8, 2009, The Texas Tech men's basketball team came to TCU's Daniel-Meyer Coliseum undefeated and after an 80-70 victory the Red Raiders moved up to 16th in the nation. Pat Knight was in his second full season and hopes were high that the ranking wasn't fool's good and that Knight, the son of legend Bob Knight, was forging his own identity in his first foray as a collegiate head coach.
Years of working under his father had produced interviews, but no college head coaching jobs until Bob stepped down unexpectedly in February 2008. Pat was tapped as the coach-in-waiting a few years earlier.
After that game at TCU, Pat, unlike in his father in that he never met a media member he didn't like to engage in a friendly manner, said he felt as though he was just coming into his own. He said it took some time, but he was figuring out the type of head coach he wanted to be instead of the type of coach he thought he should be.
"Last year was tough," Knight said then of his first full season as head coach that ended with a 14-19 record. "You take over a team and, you know, I've got to follow my dad's footsteps and you sit here, 'How do I act? Should I try to be more subdued when I'm more like him than anybody knows?' And then finally, towards the middle of the year, I was like, 'The hell with it, I've got to be me, that's getting after people.' So, there was just too much stuff I worried about that I shouldn't have [worried about]."
Fifteen months later Texas Tech, with incoming athletic director Kirby Hocutt taking over for longtime AD, former Tech basketball coach and Bob Knight friend Gerald Myers, has decided it has seen enough. A 10-year run of Knight-coached Red Raiders teams will come to an end when Tech concludes this week's Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City.
Perhaps Knight just never found the formula and balance he craved as a head coach. That 2009-10 season that started so promisingly at 9-0 ended in disappointment at 19-16, Knight's lone season above .500.
Tech fans rarely came out in droves to watch the Raiders under Bob, and he often voiced his displeasure. And big crowds certainly haven't greeted Pat's teams that will finish a third season without advancing to the NCAA Tournament. This season, early losses to North Texas and TCU, among others, got the grumbling started and put Knight behind the 8-ball.
Tech started the Big 12 season with four consecutive losses and followed it up with three straight wins to put the season at a tipping point. Unfortunately for Knight, who couldn't get what he needed out of his senior class, the team dropped four in a row and six of seven to effectively end the season and Knight's tenure.
Perhaps Knight will find success somewhere else, totally free of his father's shadow.
As for Tech's next move, get set to hear plenty of one name in particular: Billy Clyde Gillispie.