Amidst a historic recruiting crisis across the U.S. military, the Marine Corps still managed to clear its enlisted goals by 21 recruits this past fiscal year.
Armchair observers and brass alike attributed the service’s adapting and overcoming to the notion that the Marines are a storied service, and one where “The Few, The Proud” still carries weight in a tribalized, forever-online culture.
“Your bonus is that you get to call yourself a Marine,” Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Eric Smith said earlier this year. “That’s your bonus … there’s no dollar amount that goes with that.”
But years ago, the late, legendary Indiana Hoosiers basketball coach Bobby Knight cut his own recruiting promo for the Corps.
Knight, who passed away Wednesday at the age of 83, was proudly and defiantly a man from another time. His Marine recruiting take is a throwback as well, presented without the animated drones or collapsing CGI buildings that define the current fleet of Marine recruiting commercials.
As with everything Knight did in his storied career, the man kept it a buck.
“You wanna join the team?” Knight asks, standing on a basketball court in his trademark red sweater. “Well, I’ll tell ya if you’re good enough, quit f–king around and get your ass into your Marine recruiter right now. Tell the son of a bitch that you want to be part of the team, and god dammit do it right now.”
We don’t know for sure when the clip was recorded, but the choppy picture suggests this was in the VHS era, a bygone time likely foreign to most current junior Marines, boots and shower shoes.
The clip also features Knight asking someone off camera how he did, suggesting that the coach’s recruitment push never actually aired.
“Does that have the kind of bite you’re looking for?” he asks, almost sheepishly.
It sure does, Coach Knight.
Here’s hoping you’re throwing folding chairs across Heaven’s basketball court. Rest in Power, King!
Observation Post is the Military Times one-stop shop for all things off-duty. Stories may reflect author observations.
Geoff is a senior staff reporter for Military Times, focusing on the Navy. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was most recently a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at [email protected].