Former IU basketball player Dan Dakich this week isn’t hiding his feelings for his former college coach.
On Tuesday, Indiana honored its 1976 national championship hoops team—the last college team to go undefeated.
And on his radio show on Wednesday, Dakich unloaded on the coach of that team, Bob Knight, with both barrels.
The bill of goods Knight sold his players when they played for him was a farce, said Dakich, who played at IU under Knight from 1982-1985, then served as an Indiana assistant coach under Knight until 1997.
“As (former IU assistant) Jim Crews said way back in the day, Indiana basketball isn’t a four-year thing, it’s a life-time thing. It turns out that that is completely and totally not the case,” Dakich said. “It turns out that Indiana basketball was a Bob Knight thing, and when Indiana basketball didn’t suit Bob Knight, everybody involved at Indiana basketball wasn’t allowed to be in love, respect and cherish their time at Indiana as a basketball player. They were supposed to blindly follow a man because of how bitter he was.”
Despite repeated invitations, Knight refused to attend IU's celebration of the 40th anniversary of his most famous team, although many of the players did go. Sports illustrated's Seth Davis reached Knight by phone late Tuesday and asked why he didn't attend. Davis said he and Knight had "a cordial but very brief conversation."
"He did not want to discuss it," Davis said.
But Dakich on Wednesday did want to talk. He said he finally came to the realization that the life-long relationship for IU players is between the players and fans, not the players and their coach.
“Indiana basketball for those of us that played is about Indiana. It’s not Coach Knight,” Dakich said on his show on WFNI-AM 1070. “I did not play at Coach Knight University. I played at Indiana University. Sometime during my 12 years as an assistant coach, I forgot that.
“Being around Brian Sloan more now and seeing Jeff Oliphant, talking to Todd Jadlow, going back to Indiana and being around Chris Reynolds [all those guys are former IU players] made me appreciate being a former Indiana basketball player, and I don’t give a rat’s ass what anybody thinks, I’m proud to have been there.”
Dakich said it’s unfair that former IU players have been caught in the middle of the war Knight has waged against IU since he was fired as the school’s coach in 2000.
“I did not sign up for all the garbage that has come since. I signed up for a lifetime proposition as Jim Crews told me in my house when he recruited me,” Dakich said. “Well that turned out to be a complete load of crap. It’s a life-time proposition I learned between myself … and the fans of Indiana. When people go with me to IU games, people are stunned at how great IU fans are to me.”
Dakich said he was so touched by the kindness and warmth extended to him by IU fans at Assembly Hall on Tuesday—he was there calling the game for ESPN’s telecast—that he was shaking as he sat in his car after the game.
“It stuns me, flatters me and it humbles me every time I go back, and I’m so thankful for it. That’s what I signed up for at Indiana,” Dakich said, his voice rising an octave or two.
“I don’t give a rat’s ass if some old man is still so fricken bitter he cannot overcome his own ego to come back and celebrate a team that made him famous, that made him more money, that gave him more enjoyment … [The fact that] he couldn’t come back for those guys in my mind makes him an incredibly small human being … and I don’t give a rat’s ass whether or not any of Coach Knight’s friends—Bob Hammel, Timmy Knight, anybody—comes at me.”
Dakich emphasized that his role models for being “an adult male” are his dad, mom and older brother—not Knight.
On rumors that Knight is ill, Dakich blasted away all the more.
“My thoughts on his sickness are too cruel to say on the air. But I have never seen in my time a more self-interested, self-involved display than I saw (Tuesday) night by Coach Knight not being there,” Dakich said. “[If] he truly believed that this team was the greatest, he would have been there. If he truly believed that we played for all of the fans that supported him, that—oh by the way—paid him to come speak at events, gave him cars, let him go hunting, he used his position to gain so many free things, he’s full of crap when he says he didn’t, I was with him.”
Several IU players at Assembly Hall on Tuesday as part of the 1976 team celebration admitted that Knight will probably no longer talk to them because they attended and associate with the school.
If Dakich wasn’t in that dog house before Tuesday, he certainly is now. But he won’t be sitting in there with his tail between his legs.
It’s difficult to say if Dakich’s rant will make him more or less popular with the IU faithful. It probably depends on whether they cheered for Bob Knight University or Indiana University.
To listen to the entire rant, click here.