9. Bobby Knight: Only Clean Coach
RCS: In that same interview, you said Bobby Knight was the only coach you’d vouch for being clean. What is it about Bobby Knight that makes him so seemingly reckless with his public behavior and so moral with his private decisions?
Wetzel: I know a lot of people in grassroots basketball, and just on levels where you can hang out and talk and stuff like that and there’s never been a whisper about Bob Knight. I’ve asked around and challenged anyone to find something on Knight and none of the guys ever have anything that Bob Knight did. He didn’t operate in that world. He’s not the only guy, but at the top level it’s a small number, single digits probably. I asked Sonny Vaccaro once and he said there were four coaches, which I found so precise an answer it was hysterical. I always found it amazing that Knight won the most and cheated the least.
Now, his personality or how he deals with people is a different thing. One doesn’t have to do with the other. I think one of the things that happens with the white-hat, black-hat scenario is the idea that this guy is a nice guy and he must follow the rules. He’s this great guy and a leader of men, and these coaches just get idolized. I’m sure I’m part of that process too, in covering sports. So I’m guilty too on some of that. But it just doesn’t mean it’s true. They’re not the same. Just because you follow the rules doesn’t make you the greatest person on earth, and just because you’re a really nice guy doesn’t mean you follow the rules and just because you cheat, you aren’t some scumbag.