The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

April 7, 2010

HERTZEL COLUMN - Huggins shows other side

MORGANTOWN —  

The moment is etched forever in all of our minds now, a vision that will not — and should not — ever fade away.

Da’Sean Butler lay on the temporary floor put into Lucas Oil Field to house the 2010 NCAA Finals, ringed by more than 71,000 fans drawn to an intriguing semifinal matchup between eventual champion Duke and West Virginia University.

Butler lay there in pain, unaware yet that he had shredded the insides of his left knee, aware only that his season was over and that West Virginia would not beat Duke. He lay there as his coach, Bob Huggins, kneeled over him, his face inches from Butler’s face.

If it had been done vertically, not horizontally, it would have been like just so many scenes involving Huggins, his face contorted in emotion, nose-to-nose with a player who had not played defense the way he wanted it played or with an official who had just made a dismal call.

But the look on Huggins’ face was of care and concern and, if we could borrow a phrase from the songwriters, he had the look of love, the kind of love a coach can have for his player.

Let us stop here for moment to offer a mea culpa, a necessary, public one from someone who, because of the position he holds and not because of any desire to do so on his part, has become something of a public figure whose words are either adopted or rejected, but seldom ignored.

To admit being wrong about Bob Huggins before he came to West Virginia is not a cool thing to do today, for the man truly owns the state. He entered at a crucial time in West Virginia athletic history, for both John Beilein and Rich Rodriguez were heading up the interstate to Michigan, leaving WVU’s two major programs teetering on the edge of a cliff, the world ready to push them over the edge.

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