Cover Photo: Ben Queen/USA Today
Morgantown, West Virginia – Bob Huggins is a lot of things. A proud West Virginian. Likely a basketball genius. A man of principle.
But Bob Huggins is also famously stubborn. And the world that he lives in, college athletics, is ever-changing.
This is the dilemma that Huggins has found himself in. He’s been ultra-successful during his long and illustrious career – one of the most successful, accomplished coaches ever – and he doesn’t feel adapting and evolving is necessary due to his massive achievements.
Recruiting and winning in college basketball is very different than it was when became a household name at Cincinnati. His tough, hard-nose style was acclaimed in the past for shaping troubled young athletes into men. Now, it’s nothing more than a detriment to the program he loves so much.
Why would a top prospect choose to play for Bob Huggins?
Is it because if they screw up in practice, he’ll make them run on a treadmill?
Is it so they can play for an entire state that they know nearly nothing about?
Is it because Huggins prioritizes winning and the team success over the individual accomplishments of a player?
None of these things are selling points for high school athletes anymore. In fact, they are more of a liability to today’s recruits. All the reasons Huggins sold players on to convince them to come play for the Mountaineers in the past are now drawbacks.
Bashing Players in Postgames is Ineffective
Huggins routinely bashes his players in postgame comments and unfortunately, this particular strategy is extremely ineffective. Perhaps tough-minded players were motivated by Huggins’ tactics in the 1980s, but today’s players don’t want their names dragged through the mud after a loss. They see it all on social media and in a very negative world, they should at least rely on their head coach to have their backs when times get tough. Instead, Huggins bashes and bashes away, and there’s nothing positive that comes from it.
Is Bob Huggins the best West Virginia can do?
Someone recently asked me if I would want Bob Huggins to retire and the answer was ‘no.’ If he were to leave, it’s unlikely West Virginia would have the coach of his caliber anytime soon, and no one would ever care so much about the program like he does. I really do not want him to retire.
Instead, I want him to show that he’s capable of changing. I don’t want to hear him grumble about the negative parts of the transfer portal or NIL in college sports. I want to see him embrace it and learn to win big in this changing world. Otherwise, he will sound like a bitter old man who can’t adapt, and that’s not who Bob Huggins really is. Or is he?
Bob Huggins is a winner. More than anything else, he wants to win. This isn’t about his principles or what he feels is right or wrong. This is about winning.
Like anyone who has been really successful for a long time, it's going to be really hard for Bob Huggins to admit that he's no longer very effective. He said it himself yesterday: "Today's players are different." It's time to have a real conversation, Bob. #WVU
— The Voice of Morgantown (@voicemorgantown) January 22, 2023