Tech couldn't risk losing Pat Knight

Texas Tech started to get nervous last spring with the prospect of losing assistant Pat Knight once he started interviewing for jobs.

So, according to Pat Knight, they approached him about being his father's successor.

Knight interviewed at Fresno State and New Mexico State. He withdrew for both and might not have landed either gig based on who was hired at each place -- Fresno native Steve Cleveland of BYU at Fresno State and Hollywood actor and Rick Pitino assistant at Louisville in Reggie Theus at New Mexico State.

"[Texas Tech athletic director] Gerald Myers called me in and said they didn't want me to leave, they wanted me to be the next coach," Pat Knight said Saturday night, shortly after the school had officially announced he would succeed his father whenever Hall of Fame coach Bob Knight retires.

"I signed the contract a few weeks ago and we were just waiting for the Board of Regents to pass it," said Pat Knight, 35. Knight said he signed a five-year contract, which would start whenever he takes over as head coach. "I've known since the spring that this was going to be done.

"This feels great since going after jobs has been a tough process with headhunters and people who aren't into sports, let alone basketball, making decisions," Knight said. "I wasn't sure if I wanted to follow my dad, but to have my first job following my dad in the Big 12 is different."

So is Knight's involvement in Lubbock versus Indiana. Sure, Knight played for his father at IU, but he wasn't invested in the program as much as he is at Texas Tech. Bob Knight built a national power at Indiana. Pat helped turn Texas Tech into a Sweet 16 team last season, recruiting the players, developing them and working hand and hand with his father in creating a Big 12 contender.

"I've been involved in this from the ground up, I wasn't at Indiana, that's why it makes more sense to follow him here," Knight said.

Knight said the uncertainty over a successor had just recently started to be an issue in recruiting. But since Pat and Bob Knight knew the succession plan this summer they have used it in recruiting and Pat Knight said it is already helping.

"As coach Myers told us, now the kids know who will be the next coach and that the philosophy and the system won't change," Knight said.

Knight said the Sutton succession plan at Oklahoma State where Sean has already been chosen as the head coach designate for his father Eddie helped make the decision for Texas Tech. Knight said he sees similarities with Tech and OSU and now he and his good friend Sean Sutton can foster a friendly rivalry for years to come.

When will each take over? Sean is more likely going to get the gig sooner with Eddie probably leaving after this season or next. As for Bob Knight's departure, it won't be at least until Knight passes Dean Smith as the all-time winningest head coach, according to Pat Knight. Bob Knight (854) is 26 wins shy of breaking Smith's all-time record of 879.

"I know he wants the record for sure, after that I don't know," Pat Knight said. "He now knows that I'm going to take over so he can relax. This actually might add a few more years for him.

"I'm hoping he could go three or four more."

Bob Knight is under contract through the 2008-09 season, four more seasons.

Pat Knight discounted any rumors of his father going anywhere else, say Cincinnati.

"He's got it made here," Pat Knight said. "We're both set now. He has built a great house here and now he can stay here. He said he would make this his home base once he retires but if I weren't the next coach that might not have been the case.

"I'm not looking to get my old man out," Pat Knight said. "But I think he can relax more instead of being here all the time. He needs his time away to do his fishing and hunting. He'll be 65 in October, his health is good but it will get to a point where he'll wonder how much more he wants to accomplish. There are some places he'd like to fish in South America and Africa that he can't because when it's their summer it's our winter [during basketball season]. We've got the continuity in place now. This has worked out really well."

Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.