The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

February 23, 2011

HERTZEL COLUMN - Huggins: WVU to face Kansas State

MORGANTOWN — Bad enough, what with the competition from the Internet, radio, television and other newspapers, now there is even more competition.

Bob “Scoop” Huggins used his Monday night radio show to break the news that his basketball team, West Virginia University, would next season play Kansas State in Wichita.

This is news that surely stopped the presses in Manhattan, Kansas, once it broke over the now traditional news media like Twitter and Facebook, which are no longer fast enough to keep up ol’ “Scoop,” who we hear has sources deep inside the WVU athletic department.

Now that Huggins has found this new occupation, we expect he’ll be wearing a new Nike WVU silver elite fedora with a press pass in the hat band. You will soon be able to find it on sale all around town for $149.95.

The logical progression from here is for him to report on his weekly television show — the man is a media marvel with a finger in every outlet — that Carmelo Anthony is being traded to neither the Knicks nor the Nets, but instead to the Mountaineers for Cam Thoroughman, Casey Mitchell, Deniz Kilicli and a dozen of the new Nike WVU No. 5 aerographic Silver Elite tackle twill performance jerseys, which just happen to also be on sale for $74.95.

Oh, they come in white or navy blue.

On a more serious note, this really is a bit of big news in Manhattan, for you might recall that Huggins had become the biggest thing to hit the plains since wheat as he came in and rescued their program from the junk heap. He was Justin Bieber in a pullover.

While we in this area have not portrayed it this way, that is when West Virginia came in and stole him away, much the same way that Michigan came in and stole Rich Rodriguez away from West Virginia … and you know what kind of reception Rodriguez would get if he were to lead another football team into West Virginia.

The people at K-State, for quite some time, were as angry as West Virginians were pleased, but that would die down as they realized that this was a chance for Huggins to return to his roots and to expand his horizons from being just a basketball coach into becoming a multi-media superstar.

Certainly it will be interesting to see the reception that will await Huggins upon his return to Kansas, although the game will not be played on campus in Manhattan but, instead, in Wichita.

Why would Huggins schedule such a game, considering there isn’t much of a market for Kansas State authentic Bob Huggins Nike pullovers in K-State colors any longer?

This is the way he explained it as he broke the story via the airwaves.

“Coming back here I heard from all of my buddies that we need to play a better schedule,” he began.

Certainly, under Gale Catlett, who built his career numbers beating up on the Seven Dwarfs,

the WVU schedule was hardly appetizing. It certainly got better under John Beilein but Huggins has given it national muscle, ranking up there with the likes of Kentucky and Ohio State and Michigan State, teams that take on all comers.

This year you can find fault with only three games – VMI, American and Robert Morris – on the entire schedule.

“At the end of the day, without question, we have one of the top three schedules in America,” Huggins said. “It’s very possible, depending upon who beats who, it could be the best schedule in America.

“How do you do better than that?” he continued. “You can’t do better than that.”

But the idea is to keep that up year after year, for playing a tough schedule gets you into post-season play. Winning against a tough schedule gets you a top national ranking, which gets you top recruits, which perpetuates your program.

So, this game against Kansas State was a natural, considering his relationship with his former assistant Frank Martin, now coaching there, along with the availability of a “neutral” site in Wichita that can house a big crowd.

“I had dinner with Frank Martin last night, and he said the place in Kansas City is absolutely beautiful and Wichita is ever better,” Huggins said.

Going to Wichita may sound like an break for WVU rather than going to Manhattan, but that may not be the case. This past weekend Virginia Commonwealth went to Wichita to play Wichita State for a BracketBuster game, and its coach, Shaka Smart, came back saying the crowd was as loud and outrageous as any he had ever seen, and he had been an assistant at Florida.

So now WVU has as tough a schedule – considering they play in the Big East – as anyone could ever want, Huggins noting that in one week next December they play Purdue, Kansas State and Miami of Florida.

Check his radio show before that week. He’s liable to break the story on who will win before the games are played.

E-mail Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com.

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