Tale of two coaches

Contrast in styles: How two men chose to lead their teams couldn't have been more different.

September 12, 2000

FOR WHEN the One Great Scorer comes to mark against your name,

He writes -- not that you won or lost -- but how you played the Game."

No one believes this immortal doggerel by the late Grantland Rice less than Bob Knight.

Before his firing by Indiana University for a pattern of arrogant abuse, that mocked a code of conduct, the only mark that mattered to Coach Knight was 763 career victories (against 290 defeats), within a few seasons' sight of the record for college basketball coaches.

Whom he cursed, belittled, choked or punched out along the way did not matter, to him or those fans protesting his martyrdom.

Contrast that with the values of another coach, Brian Billick.

Also on Sunday, after his Baltimore Ravens played the first half against the Jacksonville Jaguars, abysmally below their level of competence, Coach Billick used halftime to talk about character.

"What I told them was, win or lose, it will make no difference. The second half will define who we are. How we conduct ourselves will define the kind of team we are."

That's Grantland Rice in prose.

The men responded. The gods of football, listening as well as looking down, smiled. The decisive pass from Tony Banks to Shannon Sharpe, with 41 seconds remaining, was their reward.

Let all the coaches out there, molders of young character, take Mr. Billick for their model, not Mr. Knight.

Let the message be that what matters, in the end, is how they played the Game.

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