Big 12 Basketball

Five Thoughts on Bob Huggins, The Fallout And The Future

Bob Huggins

The resignation of Bob Huggins comes after a spring in which he recruited one of the best transfer portal classes in the country. He was clearly looking to build a national contender next season.

Now, he’s done. His DUI arrest on Friday night was the final straw in a quick descent less than a year after taking his rightful place in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

This all comes outside the traditional hiring cycle for a new head coach. So here are five thoughts on Huggins, the fallout, and the future.


On Huggs

It’s a shame it came to this, but this is all on him. This is at least the second time he’s been arrested for a DUI in his coaching career (the first eventually led to his departure from Cincinnati). Being twice over the legal limit is negligent on his part. We’ve all been in this situation at one time or another. You call a ride. Period. He’s lucky he’s not hurt. He’s lucky he didn’t hurt anyone.

On the heels of using an anti-gay slur on a Cincinnati radio show in May, Huggins was out of chances and athletic director Wren Baker was out of options.

It’s an awful end to his career (if indeed this is it). But based on the past six weeks, the last place he needs to be is on a basketball court. I hope he gets what he needs.

A National Search

WVU announced Saturday night that it would conduct a national search for a new head coach. For what it’s worth, here are five names I believe could interest the Mountaineers.  

The idea of a national search is interesting given the timeline triggered by the coaching change (we’ll get to that in a second). When Baker had to replace Dawn Plitzuweit as women’s basketball coach, time was on his side. There was a national search. He picked Stephen F. Austin’s Mark Kellogg and made the hire in roughly two weeks. So Baker can work fast. And he will need to. Here’s why.


The Transfer Portal Giveth …

Huggins and his staff did terrific work in the transfer portal. Most recruiting services gave the transfer class a Top 10 rating after all was said and done. But with Huggins out the door, the players have options. College Hoops Today’s Jon Rothstein provided what the timeline looks like for those players in a Tweet on Sunday:

The two-time transfer note is important. NCAA now allows players to transfer once without a waiver. Second-time transfers need a waiver, and the NCAA is trying to be stingy with those. Without the waiver, the player would have to sit out a year.

This is why I think it’s possible WVU will elevate Ron Everhart into an interim role and give him the year to protect the class and coach out next season. Everhart was a head coach for nearly 20 years before joining Huggins’ staff.

Not for nothing, but the assistant coaches on staff are off contract as of the end of June. So that’s an issue, too, whether you go outside the program or not.

Two More Names To Ponder

Making an initial coaching candidate list is not an easy task, especially when you have to do it in less than a day. It’s not an exact science. And on Sunday I was reminded about two other potential candidates.

The first is a former WVU head coach — John Beilein. Right now he’s a senior player development advisor for the Detroit Pistons. But he led WVU for five seasons before taking the job at Michigan in 2007. Since his one-season thud with the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, he hasn’t coached. At age 70, does he want one more shot or is he just ready to chill? No one would blame him if it’s the latter.


The other is Ben McCollum at Division II Northwest Missouri. Now that sounds like a leap, right? But remember that Baker and Kellogg crossed paths for one season there. McCollum has been with the Bearcats since 2009, so he and Baker know each other well. McCollum has built the dominant program in Division II, one that has won four national championships and has gone 365-85 since he took over 14 seasons ago.

Baker is in a pinch, and sometimes when you’re in a pinch you lean on what you know. Whether you think this is the right hire depends entirely upon whether you think McCollum has the chops to succeed at Division I. That’s a gut decision Baker may have to make.

The Future

A future without Huggins in Morgantown just seems wrong. He had just gotten settled in at Kansas State when Beilein left for Michigan and he got the call to come home. This was dream job personified for Huggins. He did great work there. The job helped get him to the Hall of Fame.

Now? It will be a nearly unprecedented transition for the program. Whoever takes over has to keep the roster intact and hit the ground running, as workouts for the summer have already begun. It’s going to be a tough job. The shadow of Huggins will loom for a while, no matter the circumstances that led to his resignation.

You know the old saying? You want to be the guy that follows the guy that follows the legend? One wonders if that will end up being the case here.

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard

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