Morgantown, West Virginia – The West Virginia Mountaineers were 0-4 in the Big 12 Conference and headed towards another losing season on January 11th. Bob Huggins promised a whole state of people that he would “fix” it and he was running out of options.
Huggins made an incredibly difficult decision personally, firing his long-time assistant and friend, Larry Harrison. Harrison, 68, had worked alongside Huggins from 1989-1997 at Cincinnati and then from 2007-2023 at West Virginia.
Since Harrison was fired, West Virginia has been a completely different team. Huggins hired a younger assistant that players could better relate to – something desperately needed for years – in former player DerMarr Johnson. Since this hiring, the Mountaineers have played looser with more enthusiasm and they appear to actually be having fun on the court.
In other words, the firing of Harrison and the hiring of Johnson was precisely what West Virginia needed to turn this season around.
Despite what former players thought, there was a very good reason that Harrison was fired. West Virginia’s new athletic director saw what a lot of people have seen within the program and he acted in the best interest of the basketball program. Bob Huggins is loyal to a fault and he’s (not-so) subtly indicated that he has a bunch of “BSers”, a bunch of players and members of his coaching staff who don’t really belong on the team.
After a particularly frustrating loss early in the season, Huggins had the following to say: “I have been blessed. I’ve had some special guys, special guys who loved the game, special guys who said, ‘I’m going to be somebody at this game,’ and meant it.
We’ve got a bunch of BSers. They don’t really want to be special. They want to hang on. We’ve got too many guys. Sometimes I have too big a heart and let guys around who shouldn’t be around and try to help them. Probably the same with the staff. We’ve just got to go back and figure out how we can compete.”
Since the only change that has been made after Huggins made this comment is firing Larry Harrison, one could be led to imply that he was referring to Harrison as at least one of the people who “shouldn’t be around and just wants to hang on.”
Huggins knew that Harrison was part of the problem, saw his program declining in a dramatic way and knew that changes had to be made, and thankfully Huggins made the difficult decision to fire Harrison or the Mountaineers would likely be in the NIT or not playing in the postseason at all.