One of the most disappointing tenures in announcing history is reportedly set to end with a whimper. Jason McIntyre at TBL has multiple sources inside ESPN that say the network will not renew Bob Knight's contract at the end of the college basketball season.
Knight (sorry that's supposed to be Coach Knight or Mr. Knight) has been an ESPN college basketball analyst since 2008 and his departure from coaching. Initially, ESPN praised Knight's hiring as a "compelling listen" and hailed the former coach as a "legend." Knight could be a decent game analyst when he was engaged, but his wealth of knowledge and insight about the game never made it to viewers at home. The only thing that proved to be compelling about Knight's ESPN career was the controversy he created and the material he provided blogs. Knight's public, petulant feud with John Calipari and Kentucky reached ridiculous levels when the former coach wouldn't say the name of the eventual national champion last year. In fact, it was news when an ESPN college basketball analyst finally spoke the word "Kentucky." The mini-controversy exposed the absurd favorability and leeway ESPN provided Knight, who was able to play by his own set of rules.
Knight's other notable moments as an ESPN broadcaster? I can think of three:
And that's it. TBL even notes one source inside ESPN saying the network has gone as far as hiding Knight on unattractive games this season. Knight has mostly called SEC games this year on ESPN2, so there's certainly some legitimacy to that idea. Additionally, his presence across the "family of networks" has been diminished greatly since he had his own SportsCenter segments at the beginning of his analyst career.
Knight's legacy as a broadcaster is one ESPN would rather forget. There couldn't have been many observers who imagined his notoriously irritable personality would translate well to television, but Bristol bent over backwards to bow down to the mystique of The General and his ESPN sweater. The mystique quickly faded as Knight never connected with viewers and he slowly moved out of the college basketball spotlight. It's another lesson that great coaches and players don't always make great analysts.