Bob Huggins still wants to coach college basketball again after his unfortunate exit from West Virginia University.
MORGANTOWN, West Virginia — Bob Huggins can’t live without college basketball. Or at least he doesn’t want to live without it. Huggins has made that clear ever since his unfortunate arrest and forced resignation, claiming that he did not resign from his position as the head coach of the Mountaineers.
Remember, Huggins believed – despite all reason suggesting otherwise – that once he finished rehabilitation for his reported alcoholism, that he would once again take over the West Virginia basketball program. As delusional as that sounds, Huggins and the people surrounding him truly believed it.
With that said, Gordon Gee and Wren Baker have made it abundantly clear that Bob Huggins will never coach the Mountaineers ever again under any circumstances. Gee and Baker have both been on record saying that they have “moved on” from Huggins and “hope that he takes care of his health and gets the help that he needs.” However, Huggins is far from ready to simply move on. Huggins, who has 935 wins over a remarkable nearly-40 year career, knows nothing else at this stage in his life than coaching basketball. He’s done it his whole life and he’s one of the most successful to ever do it consistently over a long period of time. Morever, his family and friends know nothing else other than riding Huggins’ coattails as hanger-ons to his legendary career.
Huggins is a proven program builder, recruiter and in-game strategist, and if he is able to rehabilitate his personal issues and his image, a school desperate for success will absolutely consider him as their future head coach, despite his age and baggage that comes along with him. Chris Beard, who was arrested and charged with choking his fiancee, was hired only months later by Ole Miss. Yes, Bob Huggins drove drunk and made some really inappropriate remarks on a radio station, but he also has many, many years of major success with relatively few problems.
Although West Virginia University will likely never consider Bob Huggins again, many schools will. I could see Huggins taking a job at a lower level – perhaps in the MAC or SunBelt Conference – win big, and then finding himself back in a Power 5 Conference in 2-3 years. Bob Huggins isn’t done with college basketball and it’s unlikely that college basketball is done with Bob Huggins either.
With that said, here are some programs that I believe would consider hiring Huggins should their head coaching position become available:
Miami (Ohio) University – Bob Huggins is a legend in the state of Ohio and would be an instant hit at a program like this. He can recruit the state and could dip his toes back in the game in the Mid-Atlantic Conference. Their current head coach, Travis Steele, finished 12-20 last year in his debut season and if he can’t get it turned around quickly, Miami (Ohio) could be searching for a new head coach next season.
Youngstown State – Another university in Ohio, former Huggins’ assistant Jerrod Calhoun has the basketball program headed in the right direction. Should Calhoun continue to succeed and take a job elsewhere, Huggins would make an ideal replacement.
UMASS – Today, UMASS head coach and one of Bob Huggins’ closest friends said, “He’s going to get back on that saddle. He’s clean. He hasn’t had a drink since that day. One day he’ll speak about exactly what transpired. It’s not my place to put that out there, but it’s more complicated than the story that got out by people that just saw the end result. And it’s sad. But he’s in great spirits. He’s lost weight, he’s energetic, he’s good for the game, he’s good for people, he’s in a great place right now. We have some guys that are doing some things that are really against the rules – not that what he did wasn’t against the rules – but that was self-inflicted. What all wanted him to get help and he’s got that. His help came from this unfortunate situation, but he’s in a great place health-wise, spirtually, you can just feel it over the phone. I’m bringing him back and he’s going to run practice for our team. The guys think I’m bad? Wait until they have Huggs running pratice!”
Martin clearly has a great deal of affection for Huggins and believes that he can be an incredible assest in college basketball. Don’t rule out the possibility of Huggins taking on a role on Martin’s staff as an “Associate Head Coach” to slowly get back into coaching.
West Virginia – The odds seem very low that he would actually be considered again, but the reality is that there will almost certainly be a head coaching search at West Virginia after this season and Huggins will have to at least bit considered. Bob Huggins is a God in West Virginia and he will have incredible support from boosters, donors and people that impact decision-making at the university.