Thursday, March 23, 2006

Huggy Bear Coming to the Big 12

First there was Larry Eustachy then Quinn Snyder and Bobby Knight. Now Bob Huggins will become the next controversial head coach to call the Big 12 Conference home.
Huggins, who was fired from Cincinnati in 2005 and did not coach this season, will replace Jim Wooldridge, who was 15-13 this year with the Wildcats.

Kansas State has not been to the NCAA tournament since 1996, but Huggins will be stepping into a promising situation with most of the team's top scorers returning next season.

Huggins was 399-127 in 16 seasons with Cincinnati, leading the Bearcats to 14 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances, including the 1992 Final Four. He won 10 regular-season Conference USA titles and was honored as the league's coach of the decade. He also coached at Walsh and Akron and has a record of 567-199 during a 24-year career.

Huggins agreed to leave Cincinnati last August when university president Nancy Zimpher refused to extend his four-year contract rollover following his arrest and conviction for drunken driving in 2004. Huggins received a $3 million buyout.
Cincinnati cited the arrest as the culmination of many problems. He also had been criticized for a low graduation rate and for several off-court incidents involving players.

"We expect our coaches to be role models, and we expect our students to be role models," Zimpher said after his firing. "We make no apologies for setting high standards."

This is a huge move to Kansas State who has always run a squeaky clean program but has also struggled to find its way out of the Big 12 basement. Coaches in the Big 12 North should be concerned, not for the fact that the player graduation rate is bound to drop in Manhattan, Kansas or the fact that there will be an increase in player arrest. North coaches should be concerned because all of a sudden wins will be abundant for Kansas State.

Not only are the Wildcats landing a top coach they will land some top recruits as well. O.J. Mayo, a two-time Associated Press Mr. Basketball in Ohio, said this week he and Bill Walker, his teammate at Cincinnati North College Hill, may sign with whoever hires Huggins. Both are juniors.