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It’s time for Indiana fans to get over former coach

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Bob Knight is irrelevant, and it’s time Indiana University basketball fans got over it.

Give up the ghost and move on.

Some in Hoosier Nation still harbor visions of Knight riding into Bloomington on a donkey, palm branches waving.

It’s not going to happen.

Indeed, the closest we will get is the memory of Knight bringing a donkey on his weekly television show three decades ago as a symbol of Purdue’s basketball team.

In G-rated language, Knight was a donkey then, and he is a donkey now. That is not going to change, and frankly it is beyond the point of caring.

As our farm neighbors have taught us, you can put lipstick on a donkey, but it’s still just that.

That is too bad, because it doesn’t have to be that way. It shouldn’t be that way.

IU athletics director Fred Glass and others have made overtures. There is no doubt they want to heal whatever wounds remain and place the Coach on his rightful historical pedestal.

Certainly, fans want it, too. Indiana chat rooms continue to buzz with speculation.

The talk percolated again this week as Knight served as TV analyst for an IU game in New York, the first time he has done so.

For many, the Coach’s IU legacy is as much about education as basketball. Knight’s tireless fundraising on behalf of the IU Library was pioneering work. He was a trailblazer in using his cache as a coach to reach contributors outside the athletics world.

That should be honored, but the Coach must let it.

In a perfect world, Knight would accept the olive branch that has been extended. He would return as a hero and benefactor ready to move on from his inevitable dismissal.

He would be a gracious recipient of whatever tribute awaited, whether it be naming Assembly Hall or its basketball court in his name.

Gee, he might even be so mature as to own up to his actions and offer gratitude to the university that gave him a platform to ply his trade.

For one who always talked a good game about personal responsibility, that would be refreshing.

But we don’t live in a perfect world. Instead, we live in a world where a brilliant basketball coach can preach responsibility to others but then refuse to own up to his own juvenile actions.

Most of us learn in kindergarten to keep our hands to ourselves.

As Knight demonstrates, though, intellectual and emotional maturity can be mutually exclusive.

Bottom line, that is what the impasse in Bloomington is all about. Glass can make all the overtures he wants, but the relationship will not thaw until and unless Knight accepts the fact that his actions precipitated the whole sordid exit.

It is only the coach’s pride — make that, vanity — that stands in the way.

Without a group intervention from Dr. Phil, Dr. Drew and Dr. Laura, it is not going to happen.

It is almost sad to see Hoosier fans cling to that hope as if it still matters.

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