It has been three years since Pat Knight inherited the Texas Tech coaching gig from his legendary father. Since then he's won a grand total of 45 games in 96 attempts. Worse yet, his abysmal 11-33 career conference record is the ultimate eyesore. Every last bit of the offseason hope hanging around from 2010's NIT Quarterfinals run has already been squashed by an 8-9 start to the year. Where do we go from here?
Big 12 opponents rarely take it easy on the Red Raiders to begin with, but a 33-point blowout loss to Texas this week further darkened the cloud hovering over this program. Now at 0-2, whispers that Texas Tech might finish dead-last in the conference have started to make the rounds in Lubbock. Fans know it. Opposing teams know it. Let's be blunt: This just isn't a very good basketball team right now. Above all, they seem to be getting worse. And after what seems like two years of pure immunity, it's about time somebody out there grows the balls to point the finger at Pat Knight. Texas head coach Rick Barnes sees where the media is going with this type of talk, and completely disagrees:
"Pat, I'm telling you, is an excellent coach. I really believe they're going to be fine. They're going to get better, his teams always have."
Wonderful. Now consider this:
2009-2010: Tech was 12-3 when Big-12 play started and lost their last seven regular season games.
2008-2009: Tech was 10-6 when Big-12 play started and lost six of their last seven regular season games.
So no Rick, Pat's teams haven't gotten better at all. That is, assuming we're living in a world that judges things based on wins and losses. The truth here is that Knight's squads have folded down the stretch like clockwork, usually in part because of a beating Barnes laid down on them to begin with. More..
"There's so much that goes into being a good team or a good program. And I know this, there's not another program in the country that does it more right than they do. I mean, he's never going to violate an NCAA rule, he's going to represent Texas Tech they way it's supposed to be represented. They're going to work and their players are going to get better. They have an excellent (recruiting) class coming in and it does take a little bit of time to establish that part but they've really worked at it... I can tell you I do know him well enough to tell you they're going to keep working and keep coaching and getting better."
If head coaches are evaluated based on their understanding of NCAA rules, then we might need to restructure the balance of power in college basketball. Knight has been around the game for years. He's knowledgeable. He's a soft-spoken and somewhat-likable guy. We get it. But ask yourself this: If Knight was truly a dominant coach who was threatening to steal Texas' role atop the Big 12 supremacy, would Barnes really be openly campaigning for him as a coach? It's hard to imagine the same scenario playing out. Did we mention Barnes has won five straight games in the series by a total of 75 points, and would only benefit by keeping his whipping boy around for a little while longer? Ahh, now it makes sense.
Pat Knight is 40 years old and will clear more than $1 million this season. Unfortunately, things just aren't happening for him right now and everybody around the college game knows it. The losses are piling up, and the lack of success on the recruiting trail is starting to burn him like many had predicted. It was an outstanding gesture for Bobby Knight to gift-wrap this particular job for his son to have as his own, but honestly, was Pat even ready for it? Did Texas Tech really want to end up with the understudy when all was said and done? Better yet, is he even head coaching material at all, or more suited in a supplementary assistant role? Hopefully for Texas Tech fans the answer to the these questions comes soon enough. If not, this could be a miserable process for everybody involved.