Indiana basketball coach Bobby Knight left Bloomington, Ind., for a clinic and New Mexico Athletic Director John Koenig left Albuquerque for a meeting, which meant that nothing was decided Friday. The only one who stayed home was Southern Methodist Coach Dave Bliss, who is the second candidate for the vacant post at New Mexico, he acknowledged.
Supporters of each school continued to speculate on whether Knight would change jobs after 17 years, leaving Indiana and the Big Ten for a fresh start in the Western Athletic Conference. On Thursday, New Mexico announced that nothing would be decided until at least next Tuesday because of "complications" in the negotiations to name a successor to Gary Colson.Bliss, who served as an assistant to Knight for six seasons, said Friday he had discussed the New Mexico job at length, but that he was planning to remain at SMU while Knight weighs his options.
"I've talked to John Koenig and he's talked to me for the last two weeks," Bliss said. "I'm sure he's very intent on getting Bobby Knight for the job if he can. If they can get a coach of that magnitude, and if they are able to encourage him in any way, I'm sure they will.
"I have a job. I'm the coach at SMU and I'm doggone happy to have it," he said. "Right now I feel I'll be back at SMU."
However, a source close to the SMU program said a deal will be struck with Bliss to go to New Mexico if Knight turns down the job. Asked if his plans to return to SMU could change in the next few days, Bliss replied, "I don't know."
Bliss said he spoke to Knight briefly Friday, but not about the New Mexico job. Bliss said Knight had not indicated his intentions to him.
Later, the Albuquerque Tribune quoted Bliss saying he believed Knight would go to New Mexico. "From what I've been told, he's going to take the job," he was quoted.
Knight and Koenig could not be reached for comment. Knight went to a coaching clinic in New Orleans and Koenig went to a meeting of WAC athletic directors in Anaheim, Calif. Before he left, however, Knight told the Bloomington Herald-Telephone that his decision would not be based on any problems he has with Indiana administrators.
There have been reports of a rift between Knight and IU Thomas Ehrlich, who has publicly criticized some the coach's more controversial statements and actions in the last year since he took over from former president John Ryan. Thursday, Knight had referred to "changes" at Indiana that caused him to think of a new job, but did not specifically refer to Ehrlich, who has said he wants Knight to stay.
But Friday, according to the Herald-Telephone, Knight said, "Any decision that I would make to leave Indiana or get out of coaching would not be made because of people now at Indiana."
Ehrlich said he is disappointed with the criticism being aimed at him. "Of course I don't like it, the suggestion that I'm not doing all that I can to see to it that he stays at Indiana University," Ehrlich said.
Knight has said financial details will make little difference in his decision. Former New Mexico governor Jerry Apodaca, a member of the university Board of Regents, said Knight could come close to his $500,000 in annual salary and other benefits in Albuquerque.
Apodaca said although New Mexico had not yet made a former offer to Knight, "Simplified, it's Bobby Knight's call."