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Thursday, March 23, 2006
Huggins accepts Kansas State job

By Andy Katz

Former Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins has accepted a five-year contract to coach Kansas State, his attorney, Richard Katz, said Thursday.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Perfect match?
Kansas State hasn't made the men's NCAA Tournament field since 1996 and hasn't won an NCAA Tournament game since reaching the regional finals in 1988.

Bob Huggins went 399-127 in 16 seasons with Cincinnati, including 14 straight NCAA Tournament appearances and a Final Four trip in 1992. He was forced to resign from the school in August of 2005.

To learn more about Bob Huggins, click here.

Why Kansas State?

"I am really excited about this. I am excited about this opportunity," Huggins said at the Thursday news conference in which his hiring was officially announced. "I do not know that I have ever been around nicer people, people more committed to doing things the right way. The more we talked, the more excited I got."

Huggins, who was forced out of Cincinnati last August, will replace Jim Wooldridge, who was fired after the Wildcats lost to Texas Tech in the Big 12 tournament opening round earlier this month.

"I'm not ready to finish," he said. "What bothered me was not having the dealings on a day-to-day basis with young people. That's what I missed. I missed practice. I missed trying to help guys get better and grow up and become men. I missed the interaction I had with coaches."

Kansas State also interviewed Northern Iowa's Greg McDermott, but he took the Iowa State job.

Huggins has had conversations with Kansas State in the past few weeks. Richard Katz had made four trips to Kansas State recently, surveying the scene. This could come down to one of the most important hires of athletic director's Tim Weiser's career. Kansas State has needed to hit a home run with this hire and certainly has brought in a big-time name in Huggins.

Bob Huggins vs Kansas State
Since 1989-90 Season
  Huggins KSU
Wins 399 254
20-Win Seasons 14 1
NCAA Appearances 14 3
* Huggins' 1st season with CIN was 1989-90

If Huggins is able to make the Wildcats into a top 10 program, a lot of that will depend on whether or not he can land the cream of the class of 2007 in North Hill High (Ohio) players O.J. Mayo and Bill Walker, who have expressed interest in following Huggins in two seasons.

Huggins has always recruited junior colleges well, an area of recruiting where Kansas State has done well, recently. Kansas State is considered to have solid young talent so Huggins isn't going into a complete rebuilding situation. The Wildcats return their best player, junior Cartier Martin, a 6-foot-8 forward who averaged 18 points a game last season when the team finished 15-13 (6-10 in Big 12). The Wildcats didn't have a senior in their top four scorers last season.

Two of Huggins' former Cincinnati assistants also landed jobs Thursday, with Mick Cronin leaving Murray State to return to the Bearcats, and Cincinnati interim coach Andy Kennedy taking the top spot at Mississippi.

Huggins, 52, coached Cincinnati to 14 straight NCAA Tournaments and the Final Four in 1992. Huggins has said throughout the season that he wanted to return to coaching. Huggins now joins a stellar group of coaches in the Big 12 in Bob Knight (Texas Tech), Rick Barnes (Texas), Eddie Sutton (still at Oklahoma State), Bill Self (Kansas) and Kelvin Sampson (Oklahoma).

Andy Katz is a senior writer at Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.