Bob Knight's ESPN debut was missing just one thing.
Sure, it had decent analysis, some expected guffaws between Knight and longtime friend and fellow analyst Digger Phelps and the requisite Q&A session where Knight answered e-mailed questions.
But it lacked the one thing ESPN hired Knight to provide – compelling TV.
Along with Charles Barkley, John McEnroe and Warren Sapp, Knight's one of the few sports personalities who routinely provide entertaining quips and quotes. He doesn't always rely on four-letter words or offensive remarks, either. He's smart enough to think on his feet and when it comes to college hoops, few people know the game better.
There's no other word for Wednesday besides routine, though. It wasn't boring – that would be the C-USA games – but it lacked punch.
(Actually, it went just about how one would expect. Knight was OK for his first time, but I wouldn't call him comfortable on camera. For starters, he wouldn't have seen as many teams play this season as someone like Digger, Jay Blias or Doug Gottlieb because for most of the season Knight was coaching his own team and not watching everyone else.)
I'm sure the safe setting was mostly by design. For all of his time spent on camera, being an analyst is different than jousting with reporters or holding court in postgame press conferences. ESPN has to ensure Knight's comfortable spending so much time on camera and saying the same thing again and again.
As the March wears on and Knight's on camera more often -- hopefully without Digger so we can avoid the avuncular analysts – maybe he'll be a little looser and let loose with the freewheelin' critiques. After all, Knight's a gifted basketball mind who can break down what any team is doing wrong and how to fix it.
If that comes through on camera is another matter. With any luck, we'll get better conference games on Thursday (rather than Wednesday's expected results) and Knight can explain what happened.
If nothing else, when he does run into Jeremy Schaap in the halls at ESPN, I hope a camera crew is around…