Bill Stewart and Bob Huggins, two of the most beloved Mountaineers ever, were ultimately treated unfairly by West Virginia University, the school they loved so much.
MORGANTOWN, West Virginia — In a touching message posted on social media, Bob Huggins’ daughter Jacque said the following of her father: “He wanted nothing more than to bring a National Championship back for the people of West Virginia. WVU will never find someone else who cares so much about the university, the players, the state and the culture here.”
And she was absolutely right, of course. Bob Huggins was a once-in-a-lifetime head coach that will never, ever be replaced. He is the very definition of a true West Virginian and rather than getting the proper exit, he was reportedly given 30 minutes to decide whether to resign on his own accord or be fired from West Virginia University. The university could have accepted Huggins’ offer to go to rehab for 60 days, but instead they ruthlessly punished him at the lowest moment of his life.
Mistakes were made and Huggins has owned up to them, and perhaps it was appropriate for Huggins to inevitably lose his job considering the circumstances of the arrest, but the way that he was tossed aside after all that he’s done for the university and state is shocking. It was very reminiscent, unfortunately, of the way that the late, great Bill Stewart was treated at the end of his career at West Virginia. Rather than the hero’s departure that he deserved, he was cast aside for a head coach that had no connections to the state or university.
Less than a year after he was replaced by Dana Holgorsen, Stewart collapsed on a golf course and died, brokenhearted and no longer wanted by the university that he loved so much. Stewart was not only a true West Virginian, he was successful during his time with the Mountaineers. He was 28-12 and led the Mountaineers to one of the most important, shocking wins in WVU history when the Mountaineers beat Oklahoma 48-28 in the Fiesta Bowl.
Bob Huggins is perhaps the most accomplished, beloved person associated with West Virginia University in its storied history. In his 16 seasons at West Virginia, Huggins took the Mountaineers to 11 NCAA appearances, won 345 games and left college basketball as the 3rd winningest head coach in the history of college basketball behind only Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim.
He put the West Virginia basketball program on the map and more than that, he celebrated how wonderful the Mountain State and its people are. Every chance he got, he spoke about lovingly of West Virginia and gave his heart and soul to the state. It’s unfortunate that the love and admiration he gave for his entire career was not reciprocated in the end by the university he loved so much.