Morgantown, West Virginia – Preface: Bob Huggins should be allowed to stay and coach the West Virginia Mountaineers for as long as he wants. He’s earned that right. With that said, how much longer will he actually want to continue in a sport that has changed so much over the past couple of years?
Huggins seems ambivalent towards college basketball. It’s been the love of his life for over 40 years, but it’s simply not the same game that he has known for so long. In addition, Huggins will face a massive rebuild next season and the immediate future of the Mountaineers basketball program looks bleak.
Huggins will likely be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame this year. If there was ever a perfect time to retire and ride off into the sunset, this would be the time.
While former West Virginia Mountaineers Joe Mazzulla and Darris Nichols, who have both become talented young coaches, have been mentioned as potential replacements when Huggins retires, they lack the experience as head coaches needed to take over a Big 12 Conference basketball program.
Nichols, 35, is in his first season as the head coach at Radford, and has a 9-16 record. Mazzulla, 33, is currently an assistant coach for the Boston Celtics and has openly said that he would prefer to remain in the NBA.
With Nichols and Mazzulla not viable options to take over the Mountaineers at this stage in their careers, one coach stands out as the obvious choice to replace Bob Huggins, should he leave the team in the next couple of years.
Boals, 49, is one of the best young coaches in college basketball right now and he has coaching experience in the state of West Virginia. Boals, the current head coach of the Ohio Bobcats, was the head coach at Stony Brook before landing at his alma mater, Ohio.
At Ohio, Boals has been spectacular. In his first two seasons, Ohio finished 17-15 and then 17-8, and they are currently 22-5 and at the top of Mid-American Conference standings.
Prior to his head coaching experience, Boals was an assistant and associate head coach at Charleston (WV) and was an assistant coach at Marshall from 1999-2003.
Although Boals is happy at Ohio, he only makes $581,000 annually at his alma mater. Bob Huggins makes $4,150,000 a year. If West Virginia were to triple, or even quadruple, Boals’ salary, they would save a tremendous amount of money per season.
If Huggins decides to retire following this season, throwing $2 million a year at Boals to make him the new head coach of the West Virginia Mountaineers almost makes too much sense.