May 17, 2005
The soap opera will continue in Cincinnati, but there isn't any question in my mind that Bob Huggins will be back next season in the Queen City.
Huggins has announced he plans to fulfill the final two seasons of his contract and he understands that, for the moment, the school will not give him a further extension.
|Bob Huggins was seeking a contract extension. Instead, he's out.|
The coach also declined to accept a buyout of his current deal, which tells you the school's administration was willing to get rid of him.
Let me ask you, how will this affect the school's recruiting as it begins play in the Big East this season? It will be a nightmare, as other schools use that against the Bearcats in the recruiting wars.
Think about what Huggins has meant to the Cincinnati program. The Bearcats have enjoyed 11 straight seasons of 20 wins or more and have made 14 straight trips to the NCAA Tournament. Only Arizona and Kansas have longer current streaks to the Big Dance. Huggins' teams have won 25 or more games 11 times in his 16 seasons at the helm. His overall winning percentage at Cincinnati is a gaudy 76 percent (399-127).
The Bearcats are coming off a 25-8 season, and they gave Kentucky a real battle in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. In the past 14 seasons, Cincinnati has made the second round of the NCAAs (or better) 12 times. That is consistency on the court, my friends.
Yes, there are detractors who will take shots at Huggins for some of his players' actions off the court as well as the coach's DUI incident last summer.
Cincinnati president Nancy Zimpher has put him in a difficult position by refusing to extend his contract, leading to major questions about his future with the university. Athletics director Bob Goin, a longtime supporter of Huggins, is retiring in June 2006. So this situation will fall into the lap of a new AD, who should be given the opportunity to decide the fate of the basketball coach.
When all is said and done, Huggins likely will move on after the final two years of his deal. In the Big East, Cincinnati will be an attractive position. With its tradition, facilities and visibility in the new conference, there will be many candidates.
Sometimes a change is good for both parties, and that could be the case here in the long term. When the time comes that you're not wanted and that clearly seems to be the case here for Huggins it's difficult to give your best.
Sometimes a change is good for both parties, and that could be the case here in the long term.
It's also interesting to note that Huggins has been extremely loyal to Cincinnati. He has had opportunities to go elsewhere, with other college offers as well as NBA teams showing interest.
This soap opera will be interesting to watch. We'll have to see if Huggins ends up getting offered an extension sometime down the line, or if he leaves the school after the final two seasons of his current deal.
Either way, Huggins is a flat-out winner, baby! He has always gotten his players to give their maximum. His record speaks for itself.
Dick Vitale coached the Detroit Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question to Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.