The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

May 10, 2014

HERTZEL COLUMN: Huggins not at fault for WVU  transfers

MORGANTOWN — You were hearing it in whispers mostly over the past year, but you expect it starting this morning with the announcement that junior guard Terry Henderson is joining his backcourt playmate Eron Harris and transferring from West Virginia University.

After the past two years, as players fled WVU as if the Coliseum were on fire and as the losses mounted, it was normal that people would begin to question veteran coach Bob Huggins.

Yes, he stands fifth in career victories among active coaches, but had the game changed, had kids changed to the point that he was driving them away as quickly as he was luring them in?

Once he was considered among the best recruiters in college basketball, but now he’d seen 12 of 16 recruits since his Final Four team either never play for health or academic and discipline reasons or transfer away.

It certainly was a reasonable argument.

It just isn’t correct.

What has happened at West Virginia isn’t as much anything Huggins has done as it is a change in the players who are coming into school.

Being a college player isn’t what it used to be.

Once upon a time players played for their school rather than for themselves.

But that was yesterday, and yesterday is far more than 24 hours ago.

It’s been a trickle-down effect from the professionals and the free agency that still is relatively new in the game.

It has done away with loyalty. It takes a special person like Derek Jeter or Cal Ripken Jr. to play with your team for an entire career, to adopt a city the way it adopted you and give it the same love back that it has heaped upon you.

Playing at a college has gone from a four-year commitment to a two-year, even one-year stopover that is little more than time to write your resume and appear for an audition.

Loyalty is spelled with a dollar sign.

And that is only the start of it.

There was a time, too, when the relationship a coach built with his players was the strongest relationship they had outside their family.

Today, that is no longer true.

They are courted from their first crossover by an AAU coach, by someone with a connection to an agent, bombarded with stories of gold chains and long-legged ladies climbing into their Mercedes as they leave Madison Square Garden.

The coach well might be the last to know what’s going on in their minds and their lives when he once was the first.

It is amazing how things have changed over the years, how loyalties have melted away, how school pride has come to mean so little.

Funny, as this latest transfer was announced and the rumblings about the program and Huggins began to get louder, his former players spoke their minds through the social media.

Some, of course, claimed they understood why the exodus was taking place, having been part of it themselves.

Keaton Miles, who just finished sitting out a year at Arkansas after transferring, let his feelings be known on Twitter: “You Guys Are Surprised??? Not I...Anybody That Has Been In It...Bet They Aren’t Surprised Either.”

But so many others took up for their coach.

Jonnie West was the first: “Coach Huggins one of the best (in the) business, 5 straight NCAA’s and a Final 4. He will coach the players he has and still do a great job.”

Then there was Darris Nichols on Twitter: “In ”07-08 the first day Coach Huggins decided to come back to WVU we were all ‘bought in.’ I would not be where I am today without Huggs.”

Next came a fellow you may remember named Da’Sean Butler: “New transfer Holton & Elijah we good! Ride for your coach! Be a real supporter!”

And finally, Jonnie West Tweeted again: “Looking forward to big things next season, wouldn’t want anyone else coaching the Mountaineers, nobody cares about WV like Coach Huggs does.”

This is the truest part of all.

Nobody does care about WVU the way Huggins does. It’s his alma mater and he came back to do what he could for the school and for the state and seeing what is happening is bothering him more than anyone else.

True, in the end, it is Huggins who has to find the solution, find a way to transfer the love he feels for WVU and the state to the players, most of whom are little more than hired mercenaries coming in from Indiana or North Carolina with no prior attachment.

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
WVU Sports
  • Were Bowlsby’s fears about college athletics’ future justified?

    I have never met or even talked to Bob Bowlsby, commissioner of the Big 12 Conference.
    But I did read a lengthy story on his 45-minute address to reporters last week on Media Day in Dallas, Texas. Among other things, Bowlsby forecast a startling change threatening the existence of intercollegiate athletics as we have known for these many, many years.

    July 28, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Big 12 provides plenty of optimism

    This past week the Big 12 held its annual media gathering in Dallas and served up a heaping portion of optimism for the 2014 season that is now upon us, West Virginia University opening its preseason practices on Thursday.
    This is a time of year when no one has lost a game, not even Charlie Weis at Kansas, and it’s a time of year when opinions are more plentiful than tattoos in an NFL locker room.

    July 27, 2014

  • Seider's brother commits to WVU

    West Virginia University’s football team has received a commitment from one of its own.

    July 26, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Big 12 provides much optimism heading into 2014 season

    This past week the Big 12 held its annual media gathering in Dallas and served up a heaping portion of optimism for the 2014 season that is now upon us, West Virginia University opening its preseason practices on Thursday.

    July 26, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU needs White to follow in former receivers’ footsteps

    A year ago Clint Trickett took a lot of grief as the once potent West Virginia offense came unraveled, but there is more that than meets the eye.
    The criticism was not unfounded, of course, although behind each incomplete pass there was the pain Trickett was suffering through to throw it, his rotator cuff in need of surgery.

    July 26, 2014

  • Forsey posts Top 10 finish at World Championships

    Freshman Jillian Forsey of the West Virginia University cross country team finished ninth at the 2014 IAAF World Junior Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon.
    Forsey, a native of Stephenville, Newfoundland and Labrador, was representing Team Canada. She was the first Canadian to cross the finish line in the women’s 5,000-meter run, finishing in ninth place overall in 16:02.55.

    July 26, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Wyant talks about ‘Pappy’ Lewis and other items of interest

    I saved some other interesting observations from the recent interview with Fred Wyant which you may find worth reading.
    He believes a college football coach ought to recruit a quarterback he wants, give him some help, then turn virtually everything over to him and let him go.

    July 26, 2014

  • Forsey posts Top 10 finish at World Championships

    Freshman Jillian Forsey of the West Virginia University cross country team finished ninth at the 2014 IAAF World Junior Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon.

    July 25, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Wyant talks about ‘Pappy’ Lewis and other items of interest

    I saved some other interesting observations from the recent interview with Fred Wyant which you may find worth reading.

    July 25, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU needs White to follow in former receivers footsteps

    A year ago Clint Trickett took a lot of grief as the once potent West Virginia offense came unraveled, but there is more that than meets the eye.

    July 25, 2014

Featured Ads
WVU Sports Highlights
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos