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Entries in Bob Huggins (7)


Cincinnati Bearcats: From 15-0 Start To 18-3 To NIT?

Picture of Mick Cronin, Bob Huggins

One Great Season

The men's basketball program at the University of Cincinnati, my beloved alma mater, is not in good shape under coach Mick Cronin. Don't let its 18 wins fool you.

The Bearcats have zero quality wins this season. And that's usually been the case under Cronin.

In his team's latest embarrassment on Saturday, Cincinnati lost its first home game of the season to West Virginia, coached by 'ol whatshisname.

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Dexter Fowler Learns Price Of One Broken Rib

Bob Huggins

Rockies' OF Leaves Questions
About Huggins' Seven-Rib Injury

One Great Season

Sorry to bag on the bedridden, but OGS reader Barry called in Sunday night to pose a very good question.

If Colorado Rockies outfielder Dexter Fowler, at 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds, broke one rib after sprinting and leaping into a wall while making a game-saving catch Sunday, how did Bob Huggins, at 6-3 and probably no lighter than 250, break seven ribs during a fall in a hotel room -- in Las Vegas, of all places -- last week?

Surely Fowler, only 24 years old, is in far better physical health than Huggins. But when Camp Huggs insists he broke four ribs while packing his bags, then later insists he actually broke seven ribs because he took medication on an empty stomach and got dizzy, you can't help but wonder if the West Virginia basketball coach was getting his Tony Soprano on all over Sin City.

I certainly wish Huggins well as he recovers, but I don't think Barry and I are the only ones still curious to know what really happened.

Watch the video of Fowler's injury here.

And there's more great rib video below in Chris Rock's "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka" appearance:


Bob Huggins Is Awesome; He Really Is

Bob Huggins

One Great Season

I love Bob Huggins. I really do.

I covered his Bearcats as a sports writer for my college newspaper, the University of Cincinnati's The News Record. Thanks to him, I earned a free trip to exotic Minneapolis around this time of year in 1992, detailing UC's first Final Four appearance in 30 years.

Those were splendid days indeed. Back around then, Huggins' first-ever return call to my desk phone was intercepted by some other eager colleague at a nearby extension. She gave me the phone, and when I tried to transfer him to my desk, guess who accidentally hung up on whom?

And a few years later, after my undergraduate days left me still wanting some sort of connection to the hottest beat in otherwise sleepy-old Cincinnati, I was working on a Huggins feature for some weekly Bearcats' rag. Huggs interrupted my Friday morning with a 2 p.m. return call from Chicago -- as we had arranged -- that woke me from a nice couch slumber and sent me scrambling through a living room full of pizza boxes and empty 12-pack cartons in order to ask just a couple questions a few hours before his men took on Conference USA rival DePaul.

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"What are you doing?" I asked him slowly to give myself time to find a working pen and some real paper, not the kind with a takeout receipt or a "Rene" scrawled in lipstick on it. Not surprisingly, his reply was all Huggins.

"I'm workin'," declared the surly coach around 1997. "What are you doin'?"

NCAA Tournament

And many years later, after a hugely hyped Cincinnati-Louisville game around 2003 or 2004, a January matchup that pitted Top 6 teams with a combined 31-1 record, a game to which Louisville claimed ownership about three minutes in, a game the Cards eventually won by about 30, I wrote a harsh column for Cincinnati's NBC television station Web site. It described how Huggins' teams can't win the big games and how his players were more interested in their cornrows and headbands and their tattoos than they were with figuring out how to win high-stakes ballgames.

I caught a lot of heat for that piece, almost got fired in fact. Viewer mail after viewer mail suggested I was at least a hack if not a racist entirely. I was lumped in with all the other Huggins Haters, of whom there were very few around the Queen City. Huggins owned that town in the 1990s the way Pete Rose once did. But because of that piece, I'd earned a place in "The Drawer," according to my sources. Huggins kept a place in his desk where he stored columns and articles that reflected negatively on the coach and his program.

Savvy Cincinnati readers familiar with my work thought I had lost it. How dare you say that about our Huggy Bear? They got personal because they thought I got personal.

But I didn't get personal at all. I was merely making a point about the team's inability to win key games, not unlike what many, many college scribes have written many times in recent years about a nearby powerhouse called Ohio State football.

For that very same Cincinnati TV station Web site, I also wrote a column about how loved Huggins was, how much I knew he'd be missed after his heart attack in 2003. It wasn't just a collection of facts I published. I didn't interview anyone for it. I wrote that piece straight from the heart. Though I wrote a time or two critically of his basketball team, I always liked the kind of guy he was to those who mattered; he satisfied his superiors by winning many basketball games and he took in players of questionable character because he believed in second chances and knew he was good at being a father figure to otherwise directionless young men.

And speaking of the heart, that's a part of Huggins the viewing public doesn't often see. But just because he's not Dick Vermeil doesn't mean he's not a sensitive coach who cares dearly for his players. And in perhaps the most touching gesture I've ever seen on a basketball court, it was a compassionate Huggy Bear being, well, a teddy bear Saturday night while comforting injured star Da'Sean Butler. It may have been the first time you saw such tenderness from Huggins, but he doesn't care about you. He cares about Da'Sean Butler and the guys who go to battle for him. And in return, he teaches them, he coaches them and he treats them like he's their father.

Who knows if a slice of that sweet embrace will make its way into Monday's popular "One Shining Moment," but I certainly won't need a video montage to remember it forever. I loved every second of it, and I hope you did too.


Resurrected Program Is Big Blue's Silver Lining

John Wall

Special To One Great Season

I expected nothing less. The final whistle blew and the cat calls and claps reached a crescendo. I’d taken numerous jabs from complete strangers for most of the night in multiple Indianapolis drinking establishments as my beloved Wildcats' remarkable season came to an inauspicious end. I heard a female voice I couldn't visually link with a face exclaim, "I don't care who wins, as long as it's not Kentucky." The statement was followed by a high-five that reverberated throughout the hollows of my soul.

More than 600 miles away in a Syracuse locker room, Ramon Harris refused to remove his Kentucky jersey. The senior forward's eyes were red. It was the last time the Alaska native would wear the blue and white tank top that so many little boys from Pikeville to Paducah dream of donning.

EXTRA: Complete NCAA Tournament Coverage

I expected nothing less from the rarely used player who, by many Big Blue faithful estimations, was not the caliber of athlete we'd expect to see in Kentucky blue. What I didn't expect was that every eye (from all accounts) was red at some point Saturday night. That includes the eyes of the young men who will voluntarily never wear a UK uniform again.

Say what you want about DeMarcus Cousins' maturity. He still gets it. Say what you want about one-and-done players like John Wall. He gets it. No one would question that Patrick Patterson gets it. They all get what Billy Clyde Gillispie did not, that there's a responsibility that comes with bearing those eight letters across your chest on a basketball court. Players told reporters they let their "brothers" down. Several also apologized for letting the fans down. 

They did not.

When many eyes finally dried in homes and bars across the Commonwealth, perspective slowly crept into the collective conscience. The fact that Wall, Eric Bledose, Darnell Dodson and others could not hit the broadside of a rural Perry County barn doesn't matter. We will neatly put aside the fact that Bobby Huggins and West Virginia took apart UK's much-vaunted defense. Few will remember that, for the first time, John Calipari's kids showed their youth. There, I said it. Because what one awful night cannot take away is what this team has done for Kentucky basketball:

+ 35-3
+ SEC champs again
+ Relevant again
+ Feared again

In 1992, after the entire state went into mourning following Christian Laettner's figurative stomp on our chests, perspective was gained. John Pelphrey, Deron Feldhaus, Richie Farmer and Sean Woods became "The Unforgettables." Four young men put aside personal goals and stayed at a program that was at its lowest point. This year, Wall, Cousins, Bledsoe and Patterson put aside ego for something greater than themselves. They resurrected a program out of the ashes. I'm sure someone will come up with a name for this fab four. They were truly unforgettable.

Shortly before 9 p.m. on Saturday, I received a text from a friend of mine. He's a Kansas fan. "Go Big Blue Nation," it read, dripping with sarcasm. The haters are back. I expected nothing less.

Jackey is a die-hard Kentucky fan who lives in Louisville and is now eagerly awaiting the World Cup.


Twitter Recap: Who Said What About Bob Huggins' Ejection?

Bob Huggins

One Great Season

A funny thing happened on the way to Connecticut's latest upset of a top-tier Big East team Monday night.

Bob Huggins, coach of the visiting No. 7 West Virginia Mountaineers, got two technical fouls and was automatically ejected.

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ESPN had a nice tight shot on Huggins as he was giving official Mike Stuart the business. It didn't look like Huggins was asking if Stuart enjoyed his weekend.

Many Twitter users, including this one, were able to deciper the code Huggins has never been afraid to use on officials for more than two decades. It appeared to include many F-bombs, and ESPN college basketball reporter Andy Katz (@ESPNAndyKatz), seated courtside, Tweeted that "Bob Huggins just used mother and you know what right in Mike Stuart's face. Stuart listened and finally tossed him."

Here's some more of what folks were Tweeting about Huggins in the closing minute of UConn's 73-62 win, another resume builder for the surging Huskies:

@MattZemek_CFN: "I'm reading Bob Huggins's lips, and it's not a pretty sight... errrr, sound..... errrr, sight. You know what I mean."

@OSULighty23: "Huggins a goon lol........... he always let the refs know whats on his mind."

@onegreaseason: "When I used to cover Cincy, a steamed Huggins once told a reporter: 'If I was playing my grandma in checkers, I'd want to bury her ass.'"

@goodmanonfox: "Bob Huggins might have set the record for most F-bombs dropped on a ref and he tossed with two technicals."

@Miss_JenniferC: "I kept waiting for Huggins to flip off the stupid UConn student section as he left lol."

@kevinreitmeyer: "Stay classy Huggins! And you wonder where the students get it from?!"

@ScottBonz: "For those on the highway tonight, namely @asavla. Be safe. An angry and possibly drunk Bob huggins is on the road. Good win."

@WildcatBlueBlog: "Cousins and Bledsoe combined cannot hold a candle to Huggins and his temper. What a mess."

@PJASchultz: "It was kind of a bullshit ejection. Ref was definitely looking for it. ..and I hate Huggins!"

@jhorrigan24: "Did Bob Huggins get ejected for 2 technical fouls or for not wearing a shirt and tie? Class act."

@john_kersten: "Eff uconn. Huggins got tossed so he didn't have to shake (hands with) that ass of a coach Calhoun."

@BlakeMellinger: "Bob Huggins just got tossed at UCONN. The official had no business being at WVU huddle, he instigated the entire confrontation."

@z_timmons: "What's the Vegas over/under on # of miles Huggins makes it before being pulled over for DUI tonight?

@Gabejones23: "Huggins has just been ejected for the same thing Calhoun has done his entire career."


College Basketball Notebook: Tar Heels In Trouble

Roy Williams

One Great Season

With exactly two months left until Selection Sunday, it's about time I start posting on college basketball.

Let's do it in notebook fashion, shall we?

+ Defending champion North Carolina is in trouble this year. The Heels only lost four times last season, but already have five losses this year, three of them by double figures, including last night's 83-64 dismantling at the hands of Clemson.

+ Speaking of Clemson, don't be fooled by the Tigers' 14-3 record. It's not uncommon for them to rush out of the gate, win a bunch of games and even earn a nice national ranking. But once the February doldrums set in, for some reason, Clemson teams are rarely up to the grind and they often flame out.

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+ And speaking of flaming out, has anyone seen Cincinnati the last few games? I used to criticize Bob Huggins' teams for not being mentally strong enough to finish tight games against good teams. Late mental mistakes cost the Bearcats many close ones back then, and that seems to remain the trend under Mick Cronin, now in his fourth year there. But unlike Huggins' teams, Cronin's don't finish seasons well, missing out on the NCAA tournament with weak late-season showings the last two years.

Ashley Judd

+ Just down the road in Lexington, it's great to see John Calipari restore the tradition at Kentucky, but given his track record, you can't help but wonder what kind of trouble looms there. Nonetheless, John Wall isn't just the best freshman in the country; he's the best player. And he and DeMarcus Cousins are the best young tandem in the nation, and with Patrick Patterson manning the post, look for the Wildcats to play deep into March.

+ Back to Huggins ... As much as I wanted him out at Cincinnati long before he was fired, he's like that ex-girlfriend that I just can't get over. If West Virginia is on television, I will almost always watch. I even became a one-and-done Kansas State fan when he had a cup of coffee there. But he's got his Mountaineers playing solid basketball, and I reckon they'll get a nice tournament seed and advance to at least the second weekend.

+ The best game left on the regular-season schedule is a no-brainer. Former No. 1 Kansas visits current No. 1 Texas on Monday, Feb. 8. Each side boasts a core of veterans, a good mix of perimeter and interior players and a star freshman. Kansas' Xavier Henry is a nice scorer with three-point range and a great body for such a young guard. Texas' Avery Bradley is improving on offense, but he's a lockdown perimeter defender and a fierce competitor.

+ Don't sleep on Ohio State. Sure I'm a homer, but the earlier-than-expected return of all-everything star Evan Turner already has paid huge dividends. ET scored 23 of his career-high 32 points in the second half of a huge comeback win at No. 6 Purdue Tuesday. OSU doesn't have a great record (12-5, 2-3), but a road win like that, coupled with a healthy conference player of the  year candidate, can only boost the Buckeyes' confidence.


Kelly's Early Years Reminiscent Of Huggins'

This week, three old buds I wrote sports with at The University of Cincinnati's The News Record many years ago are contributing guest posts to One Great Season. Today's update is from Lee Gerowitz, who now lives in New York and is a senior producer for Howard TV On Demand, which is Howard Stern's totally uncensored on-demand channel.

Lee Gerowitz

Special to One Great Season

CINCINNATI -- There were two significant arrivals on the University of Cincinnati campus in 1989.

First and foremost was the arrival of yours truly. I would spend five glorious years at UC before graduating in 1994.

Overshadowing my grand entrance onto the Clifton campus was the arrival of some up-and-coming basketball coach named Bob Huggins. Huggins wouldn't leave UC until August 2005. And as we all know, he didn't exactly graduate from UC -- but let's not beat a dead horse, right? (My apologies to Art Long, whose name you should Google along with "horse" in case you don't know).

Bob Huggins put Cincinnati Bearcats basketball -- heck, even the entire university -- back on the map. Some would argue, based on the program's downfall that followed his departure, that he also wiped them off of it.

Twenty years after his arrival, the Bearcats have re-emerged, but this time via the gridiron, courtesy of football coach Brian Kelly.

It's unlikely, but not entirely impossible, that Kelly will spend 15 years coaching his version of the Bearcats. Yet, when you look at the beginning of both Huggins' and Kelly's tenures at UC, there are clear parallels.

Before UC, both men had great success at smaller schools. Huggins compiled a 71-26 record (including a 30-0 regular-season mark in 1982-83) at Walsh University before heading to Akron, a Mid-American Conference school. Kelly won two national championships at Grand Valley State University in 2002 and 2003 before heading to Central Michigan, also a MAC school.

In five seasons at Akron, Huggins compiled a 97-46 record, reaching the post-season three times, including a 1985-86 trip to the NCAA tournament. His first squad, the 1984-85 team, went 12-14. The following season the team went 22-8.

In 2004, Kelly's first CMU team went 4-7. The next season, the Chippewas went 6-5, the program's first winning season in seven years. In 2006, his final season at CMU, he went 9-4, won the MAC title and played in the Motor City Bowl.

Then came their arrivals in Clifton. Both men were brash and outspoken. Huggins challenged, well, everybody, while Kelly targeted the local media for their lack of coverage of his program.

Huggins took over a once-proud basketball program that hadn't reached the NCAA tournament since 1977. A once-proud program boasting legends such as Oscar Robertson and national championships in 1961 and 1962.  Huggins had inherited a program that had lost its identity, thanks to the pathetic 70-100 record accumulated during the Tony Yates era. To say the Bearcats established a new identity under Huggins is an understatement. Bottom line: during the 1991-92 season, just his third at UC, Huggins would begin a string of 14 consecutive NCAA appearances by storming into the Final Four.

Mark Dantonio, who left to coach Michigan State University in 2006, was Mother Theresa compared to Yates, leaving the UC football program in much better shape for Kelly than Yates did for Huggins. Despite this, Dantonio was a straight-laced, defensive-minded coach who preferred smash-mouth football. In short, some would label his style of play as boring.

Kelly, upon arrival, ripped that scheme to shreds and installed a fast-paced, and more important, fan-friendly spread offense. In his first full season with the Bearcats, Kelly won 10 games, a feat the program hadn't accomplished since 1949. The following season, Kelly won 11 games and his second consecutive Big East Coach of the Year Award by reaching what some believe is college football's equivalent to the Final Four - a BCS bowl berth (in the Orange Bowl).

Which brings us back to Bob Huggins and that magical third season.

This is also Brian Kelly's third season. Entering this weekend's Homecoming game versus rival Louisville, the Bearcats are sitting pretty (despite Tony Pike's injury) with a 6-0 record and No. 5 ranking. Another Big East title and BCS bowl berth appear to be within reach. So does an undefeated season.

And dare we say, a potential slot in a national championship game?

One thing's for sure -- just like Huggins and his 1991-92 Final Four squad -- a campus, as well as a nation, is staying tuned.