There are very few people truly surprised at the firing of Texas Tech basketball coach Pat Knight.
Ever since Knight declared before the season this would be a make the tournament or get fired year, people have been watching to see which of the two options would come to pass.
It’s pretty obvious Tech won’t be in the Big Dance so out the door Knight goes. He’s been expecting this for a while, as have the majority of Tech fans.
The timing of the coach’s firing, though, raised more than a few eyebrows.
The story goes that Knight wanted to meet with president Guy Bailey on Monday, before the conference tournament, so he would know where he and his staff stood.
Good on both parties for stepping up and making their positions clear. Knight wanted to see if his guys would have jobs and Bailey, instead of stalling and trying to find a better time, fired Knight.
The firing just two days before the conference tournament creates an odd situation for the Red Raiders. Knight will still lead the team when it plays in Kansas City, Mo., in the Big 12 Conference tournament.
The awkwardness of a lame duck coach probably won’t last too long, though, since it would take a small miracle for the Red Raiders to play further on into the postseason.
Still, one has to wonder how hard both the players and the coaching staff will be playing. I’m not one to question anyone’s heart — especially not a guy like Pat Knight — but I know when I put in my two week notice at my retail job it was hard not to slack off from time to time.
Either way, the Knight (perhaps Knights is a better term) era is over.
Now, Tech and new athletic director Kirby Hocutt can turn their attention to the future. At the moment, there aren’t too many top tier college basketball coaches collecting unemployment. Of course, former Texas A&M coach Billy Gillispie is in the region and hoping to get on a sideline soon, but, other than Gillispie, there haven’t been too many names thrown around.
Luckily for Red Raider fans Knight is the first major conference coach to be fired. That puts Tech in a good position to have first crack at any coach the Red Raiders want. This includes Gillispie and anybody fired at another school the administration believes will do better here.
Tech also could try to lure a successful mid-major coach to the ranks of big time college basketball.
According to a statement released by Bailey’s office a national search is already underway. The last time Tech hired a coach it ended up with Tommy Tuberville, a guy who had undefeated seasons in the SEC. It just lured away Hocutt from a top-tier athletic department.
Tech could use a coach whose name fans recognize. The basketball program could use a splashy hire.
The timing makes any of these plausible options for Tech. The Red Raiders more or less have first dibs.
The timing makes for awkward situations now, but in the end it’s the timing of the firing that helps Hocutt, Bailey and company get a leg up on the competition.
It is, as they say, everything.