In the mid-1970s, just after Indiana University had hired Bobby Knight as head coach, “The General” was running his players through practice in Assembly Hall.During practice, a lone jogger ran quietly around the court’s perimeter, doing no harm.
He was a short, stocky man named Doug Blubaugh, the college’s wrestling coach.One coach allowing another coach the simple courtesy of jogging space seems a given, but not for prima donnas like Bobby Knight.He watched the jogger for a few laps and then shouted at him to leave.
Notice I said shouted.Not asked. Not approached him.Shouted at him, in front of all the college players.That’s something school authority figures do not do to one another. But that wasn’t all.He swore at the wrestling coach. What he actually said isn’t repeated, but it doesn’t take much imagine to guess what few words would get across Bobby Knight’s message in the massive Assembly Hall. I’m guessing it was something like, Get the F—K out!
The soft-spoken wrestling coach didn’t hesitate. He broke his jog and headed right up to Bobby Knight. When the two stood face-to-face, I imagine it looked like a Warner Brothers cartoon.
Blubaugh stood just above five-feet-seven-inches.Bobby Knight stood six-foot-five.I doubt Blubaugh’s head came up to Bobby Knight’s chin.But that didn’t matter. Blubaugh also held rank as one of the best wrestlers in the world, and had an Olympic gold medal to prove it.
If you’ve ever met wrestlers, you should know they are level-headed and humble.The sport ingrains that attitude.I also believe it’s because they know they can literally drop anyone they meet, no matter how big or tough, in seconds.They spend years doing just that, over and over and over. Wrestlers are good dudes. Just don’t get on their bad side.
Bobby Knight did.In seconds, Doug Blubaugh had wrenched“The General” by the collar and slammed him, sputtering and squirming, against the far wall of Assembly Hall. Calmly, Doug Blubaugh explained he was IU’s wrestling coach and that Bobby Knight would never address him that way again.Ever.
With his pasty face pressed against the spongy wall mats, Bobby Knight agreed. Doug Blubaugh let him go. Bobby Knight never made that mistake again because bullies, once confronted, usually slither away for weaker prey. It’s their M.O.Experiment: next time you hear talk of the monumental exploits of “The General”, interject this one into the conversation.Long time fans of Bobby Knight will nod in shameful acknowledgement and change the subject.
Newer fans will run out and look up Doug Blubaugh. But those of us not-so-fond of the fiery former IU coach will recognize this story for what it is…the true colors of Indiana’s infamous head coach.