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Indiana coaching search: why not consider Bob Huggins?

Bob Huggins has done excellent work at West Virginia; is there any chance he would take his talents to IU?

West Virginia v Iowa State Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images

In an era where guys like Jim Boeheim, Mike Krzyzewski, and John Calipari have dominated today’s coaching landscape, West Virginia’s Bob Huggins has put together one of the best careers in the modern era. With stops at Cincinnati, Kansas State, and West Virginia, Huggins has gone to two Final Fours and won 8 conference titles while at Cincinnati.

Huggins began his career as an assistant to coach Joedy Gardner at West Virginia in 1977. After a few years as an assistant there and at Ohio State, he moved on to coach Walsh University and the University of Akron, where he found plenty of success. He was then given his first big-time job when he took an opportunity to turn around a struggling program at the University of Cincinnati.

Huggins found almost immediate success at Cincinnati where, after going to the NIT his first two seasons, he led the Bearcats to the 1992 Final Four. This would be the first of 14 straight NCAA Tournament appearances for Huggins, who developed a reputation for developing inexperienced players into some of the best players in the nation. Huggins collected a 399-127 record while at Cincinnati, which makes him the winningest coach in Bearcats history.

After being forced to resign at Cincinnati, Huggins moved on to Kansas State, where he immediately popular with his resolution to bring Wildcat basketball to the top of the Big 12. His greatest asset at Kansas State was his recruiting, as he was able to bring in multiple top 10 prospects such as Bill Walker and Michael Beasley. However, he only coached one season in Manhattan, and his team was the first in history to win 20 games and 10 conference games without making the NCAA Tournament.

After his first season at Kansas State, Huggins was offered the head coaching position at West Virginia, his alma mater. Huggins has had his fair share of success in Morgantown, the most prominent being their Final Four run in 2010. After somewhat of a lull directly after their Final Four appearance, Huggins has West Virginia back in the spotlight with two excellent seasons, during which they have won at least 22 games and finished second in the Big 12 both years.

In my personal opinion, Bob Huggins is an excellent coach who would do very well and become pretty popular in Bloomington. His fast-paced, defense-oriented, and frantic style of play would make for fun basketball as long as Huggins is in charge. Huggins also does an excellent job of recruiting for his system. His teams, especially at West Virginia, are known for having a collection of guys whose names you don’t know, but work so well as a unit that it doesn’t matter that they don’t have a household name on the floor. This team-oriented basketball is something that is very familiar to people around Indiana University, and could bring boatloads of wins for years to come.

If you have to look for one, Huggins’s only drawback is his potential for a bust-up with the administration at his current place of employment. While he was at Cincinnati, he was forced out by the new administration in 2005 because he didn’t fit with new president Nancy Zimpher’s plan to upgrade Cincinnati’s academic reputation. Another possible problem with Huggins is his potential to have run-ins with the law. In 2004, Huggins was arrested for driving under the influence and later pled no contest to DUI. However, his record has been clean since then and it doesn’t really seem like it would be a problem.

While I think Bob Huggins would do an excellent job at Indiana, it’s highly unlikely he’d give up a great job at West Virginia to try his luck at IU. That being said, money talks, and it’d be pretty interesting to see if Fred Glass breaks out the checkbook to go after a guy like Huggins.