The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

April 8, 2013

HERTZEL COLUMN- Hall snubs Huggins yet again

MORGANTOWN — Sometime mid-morning the worst-kept secret will be let out of the bag with the official announcement that Bob Huggins once again has not made the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

A couple of coaches made it, including Rick Pitino of Louisville, who has other business on his mind on this day in the person of John Beilein and his Michigan team that is trying to beat the Cardinals and win the national title.

Among those joining Pitino in the Class of 2013 will be former UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian, nine-time NBA All-Star Gary Payton, former Houston coach Guy Lewis, and NBA and Olympic star Spencer Haywood, according to multiple reports.

And don’t look for him in the College Basketball Hall of Fame either, for its class will include former coaches Rollie Massimino of Villanova, Gene Keady of Purdue, George Ravling of Washington and Bob Hopkins of Grambling.

In some ways, it may be best that Huggins has been snubbed this year, despite what you have to argue is a Hall of Fame career, considering it comes not only at the worst year of his coaching career but in the shadow of the Mike Rice fiasco at Rutgers.

Huggins’ reputation from his Cincinnati days, a warped reputation he has always maintained, would surely have been dragged through the dirt in that shadow, including his trip to probation, his public DUI video and what was pictured as a dismal academic record with the Bearcats.

That having been noted, there is no doubt that Huggins is a Hall of Fame coach, ranking third among active coaches in victories behind Duke’s Mike Krzyewski and Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim, each a Hall of Fame coach.

There is, in reality, only one accomplishment lacking from his resume, and that would be a national championship, something that has evaded him despite twice reaching the Final Four, and something he is convinced in his own mind he would have had not Kenyon Martin broken his ankle three minutes into the 2000 Conference USA Tournament, keeping him out of the NCAAs and leaving the Bearcats without a chance to win even though they probably would have had the best team.

Not winning an NCAA championship is hardly a fatal flaw in one’s resume when it comes to NCAA time, for such coaches as Ray Meyer, Ralph Miller, Pete Carrill and Lou Carnesecca, among others, have made it without one.

True, he did not spend most of his career in a so-called “power conference” at Cincinnati, but he was dominant in that conference and led his teams to postseason play in 27 of his 30 seasons, including 20 NCAA tournaments.

He has won 20 or more games in all but five of his 30 seasons and 30 or more three times.

Those accomplishments, coming in non-power conferences, may be even more impressive because of that fact than diminished, as his successor at Cincinnati and former assistant, Mick Cronin, once pointed out to Bill Koch of the Cincinnati Enquirer.

“He’s had great fans but he hasn’t had the best of the best with budget and facilities and the amenities of the elite programs,” Cronin said.

“When you stack up his wins in that regard, I don’t think you can compare somebody that’s coached at Akron, Cincinnati and West Virginia and expect him to win national championships the way you would somebody who’s coached at Kentucky, North Carolina or UCLA.”

There is something else that must be considered when weighing Huggins’ accomplishments in Cincinnati, and that is the program’s condition when he took it over.

Cincinnati at one time was a proud basketball school, the school that produced Oscar Robertson, who was the lone player in his era to be considered the equal to WVU star Jerry West of the same era, the two leading one of the truly great U.S. Olympic teams to victory.

But it had slipped badly after that and hadn’t been to the NCAA Tournament in 15 years when he took over.

Huggins built the program quickly and had it to the Final Four in his third season and went to 14 NCAAs in 16 years at UC, including leading them to the No. 1 ranking when Martin broke his leg.

In many ways this year has been a complete shame — and sham — for Huggins, his season a disaster and the highlight of his NCAA being beating former assistant coach Frank Martin in the LG Electric Coaches Cook-off, where English Muffin pizzas, one with shrimp, one with sausage, the best.

Huggins’ victory earned $20,000 for Coaches vs. Cancer, which is a Hall of Fame victory for sure.

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
Bob Herzel
  • HERTZEL COLUMN: NCAA football is thriving in the digital age

    The other day Baylor football coach Art Briles walked into his graduate assistants’ office and had to laugh at what he saw.
    “There’s five guys sitting in there — a couple of GA’s and some office personnel — and they all are within a foot and a half of each other and not a one of them is talking to each other,” Briles said, describing the scene “Every one of them is on the phone.”

    April 24, 2014

  • O’Brien leads WVU baseball past Marshall

    Catcher Cam O’Brien made a bid at becoming only the second West Virginia University player to hit for the cycle as the Mountaineers jumped on Marshall early and routed their in-state rival, 10-3, behind strong pitching from Corey Walter and a pair of relievers.

    April 24, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- WVU faithful again have a reason to root against Vick

    It would be one final indignation, that’s what it would be if Michael Vick were to beat out Geno Smith and win the starting quarterback job with the New York Jets.

    April 23, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Luck open to WVU fans’ suggestions

    West Virginia’s fans have spoken, perhaps not verbally but nonetheless have had their voices heard, over the past few years as attendance has fallen at the Mountaineers’ football and basketball games.

    April 22, 2014

  • Mountaineers ready for slate of rivalry games

    Looking to put together a late-season run to get into the NCAA championships, West Virginia faces a pair of midweek rivalry games in a crucial five-game week coming off winning two of three games at Oklahoma.

    April 22, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Summer, Alabama will be used to get WVU’s mind right

    The ink had barely dried on the final reports out of West Virginia’s spring practice when thoughts turned forward toward the lazy, hazy days of late summer, days that will bring us into football season with a game that can either change the entire image of WVU football or sour it even further.

    April 21, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Watson tees off a new century at The Greenbrier

    You knew this was going to be one of those unpredictable, memorable days when you drove into the Greenbrier Resort and headed to the Old White Golf Course and found the best parking place in the joint.
    As Bob Uecker would say, right there in the front rooooow.

    April 20, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Under pressure, NCAA decides to change rules

    At first glance, it appears that they do not go hand-in-hand, a pair of rules changes the NCAA’s Legislative Council approved this week, sending them off for what seems to be smooth sailing toward becoming rules.

    April 18, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU gymnast hopes to stick her final landing

    The reaction, one suspects, was the same as most people who see either a picture of West Virginia University gymnast Hope Sloanhoffer or meet her for the first time in person — a quick double take, maybe even stumbling over the first few words of an introduction.

    April 17, 2014

  • Bussie looks forward to WNBA

    On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
    It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.

    April 16, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads