The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

December 16, 2012

Huggins: Constant change killing rivalries

MORGANTOWN — The hard focus on realignment among college conferences has been almost completely upon football, which makes sense because it is football’s money that drives the engine of intercollegiate sports.

Even with the season-ending NCAA basketball championships reaching heights that nearly match the World Series and Super Bowl, the sport has been taken along for a ride without say in the matter, the end product being to maximize income through television in football, complete with a season-ending playoff.

But in recent days the basketball situation has drawn attention to it as the Big East’s seven Catholic basketball-only members have withdrawn from that dying conference to form a league of their own, perhaps even welcoming in such other similar schools as Dayton and St. Louis.

Like so many who have their roots in NCAA sports when they had a certain innocence to them and where the students and alumni were still taken into consideration when decisions were being made, Bob Huggins is not in tune with what is transpiring, a fact he made abundantly clear when asked about it on Friday before departing with his West Virginia University basketball team for Brooklyn to take on John Beilein’s unbeaten, No. 3-ranked Michigan team in a made-for-TV spectacle.

“Money,” Huggins said, when first asked, then sort of hesitated, thinking it all through before sort of shrugging his shoulders and pointing out that he had nothing to lose if he spoke his mind here and so he went ahead with his main point.

“It’s money, and they have given the conference commissioners too much power,” he said. “This is the result of that. (The commissioners) are the ones pushing the issue.”

By “this” he meant what was going on in the Big East Conference, yes, and what had happened to the other traditional conferences, which have been harvesting teams from their rival leagues to their own betterment, often not necessarily to that school’s betterment other than financially.

“It’s sad in a way,” Huggins continued. “We have taken rivalries and fans out of the equation.”

Huggins admitted that he missed playing Pitt in the Backyard Brawl, and that was only magnified when WVU met up with Virginia Tech in an intension game before a large crowd.

“It was more fun to play those games,” Huggins said.

It was basketball the way he remembered it as a player, Virginia Tech being one of the true highlights of the season. But when the first go-round of conference movement came and Tech jumped to the ACC, that series ended and little bit of what West Virginia basketball has always been about went with it.

Now Pitt is gone both in football and basketball, and rather than making a priority of getting either of those schools back on an annual basis in both sports, WVU would rather travel to Washington, D.C., to play a patsy with a guaranteed victory and a guaranteed check.

Huggins even went so far to admit that he “loved playing Notre Dame” when those games came around.

Huggins, of course, had no problem citing the conference commissioners as the cause of the problem, considering that his commissioner, Bob Bowlsby just recently took over the Big 12 reins and was not part of the mayhem.

The power and drive of the commissioners has become common knowledge in recent years, as noted on last year by former Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese.

“Commissioners have become so much more high-profile,” Tranghese was quoted as saying. “Twenty years ago, nobody knew who the heck you were. Now, everybody knows them.”

Now names such as Jim Delany of the Big Ten, Mike Slive of the SEC and John Swofford of the ACC are better known than Tavon Austin and rightfully so because they have engineered the major changes in the game.

While WVU had no real choice but to jump to the Big 12 — conference realignment having gone so far as to put it into an untenable situation with the Big East — it came with a price, and it wasn’t the school paying that price but the fans.

The Big 12 has created an expensive, inconvenient travel situation for West Virginia’s fans, who really felt comfortable riding up to Syracuse or Pitt for football games or to D.C. for a Georgetown basketball game or to New Jersey for a Rutgers game.

And the highlight of the year for so many of them was the allure of New York City for the Big East Tournament.

“People will go to Kansas City,” Huggins said, “but it limits the number of people who could go.”

The truth is that while Kansas City is a really nice town, New York it ain’t … although the ribs are better in K.C.

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

Text Only
WVU Sports
  • Arrest warrant out for WVU recruit

    West Virginia University’s newest men’s basketball recruit, Tarik Phillip, has an order out for his arrest in North Carolina, according to a story in The Dominion-Post, which said three Gaston County Magistrate office spokespersons confirmed.

    April 20, 2014

  • WVU baseball powers past Oklahoma, 9-5

    The WVU baseball team tied a season high with 18 hits to defeat Oklahoma, 9-5, on Saturday afternoon at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
    The win gives the Mountaineers their second Big 12 series win of the season and improves the overall record to 19-16 and 4-7 in conference play. Oklahoma drops to 25-16 overall and 5-7 in Big 12 play.

    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

  • Means, WVU baseball shut out Oklahoma

    Junior left-hander John Means of the WVU baseball team threw eight shutout innings and the Mountaineers had a five-run first inning en route to a 7-0 victory over Oklahoma on Thursday evening at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
    The Mountaineers (18-15, 3-6 Big 12) broke a six-game Big 12 losing streak after being swept by TCU and Oklahoma State in back-to-back weekends. WVU had 16 hits and did not make an error for the second-straight game.

    April 18, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Dr. Graber disagrees with Gee’s stance on Turnbull firing

    Dr. Stephen Graber, an associate professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine, is among the latest WVU teachers to deplore Oliver Luck’s firing of veteran wrestling coach Craig Turnbull.
    He raised some significant questions about that issue last Monday in a meeting of the WVU Faculty Senate.

    April 18, 2014

  • Huggins signs junior college guard

    Coach Bob Huggins completed his 2014-15 West Virginia University recruiting class on Wednesday and deemed it a success after receiving a signed letter of intent from junior college guard Tarik Phillip.
    Phillip joins Jevon Carter of Maywood, Ill., and Daxter Miles of Baltimore’s Dunbar High and out of Notre Dame Prep in Massachusetts in the 2014-15 recruiting class.

    April 17, 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

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Comparing pay of coaches and professors

    Stringing together some odds and ends which may be of interest to you:
    • A beautiful lady came up to my table last Sunday at brunch in the Village of Heritage Point’s main dining room with a message.

    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

  • WVU’s Harlee named Big 12 Scholar-Athlete

    The Big 12 Conference announced its Scholar-Athlete of the Year recipients for the 2014 winter sport season, and West Virginia University senior Jess Harlee earns the honor for women’s basketball.
    Harlee was selected as the award winner based on a vote of each respective sport’s head coaching group, with coaches not permitted to vote for their own student-athletes.

    April 16, 2014

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