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Archive for Saturday, March 25, 2006

Commentary: Huggins hiring might haunt K-State

March 25, 2006

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The ink barely had dried on Bob Huggins' new contract when Kansas State officials were offered a rare glimpse of what they were getting themselves into.

A few hundred miles east from Manhattan, where Huggins was introduced Thursday afternoon as the Wildcats' new coach, a few of his former - and perhaps future - ballplayers were making headlines at his last stop.

Maybe it was just an unfortunate coincidence.

First, there was the story of O.J. Mayo, a junior at Cincinnati North College Hill High and two-time Ohio Mr. Basketball. Mayo sat out the state high school semifinals Thursday night - on orders from his principal, who wouldn't disclose the reason - although he was cleared to play in today's championship game.

But Mayo has known for a while now where he and teammate Bill Walker, another very talented junior, wanted to go to college: whichever school Huggins wound up at.

"At the same time," Mayo said recently, "we have to see where he ends up, what the school's fan base is like, see what the fans think about him and make sure everything is great."

Everything is not great, though, with the program Huggins left behind. Hours before its NIT quarterfinal victory over South Carolina on Thursday night, the University of Cincinnati suspended two starters, leading scorer James White and three-point specialist Jihad Muhammad, for violating undisclosed NCAA eligibility rules.

Though Huggins hasn't been part of the program since he walked out the door last August with a $3 million buyout check - his contract wasn't renewed following his 2004 arrest for DUI - both White and Muhammad were his recruits. Draw your own conclusions.

Kansas State president Jon Wefald, in a rambling introduction at Huggins' news conference, mentioned a handful of the school's recent academic achievements and said he wanted an athletic program that would complement them. He talked about "plumbing the depths" in the school's search for a coach, about contacting the NCAA "six or seven times" to ensure integrity, and about America being a great place because it presents opportunities "to fit in ... and to start over again." And then he turned the microphone over to ... Huggins.

"I don't know that I've ever been around nicer people," Huggins said, "people committed to doing things the right way."

Any more questions about why big-time college athletics is such a cesspool?

Didn't think so.

Had Wefald been more honest and less convoluted, he would have said something like this:

"We're tired of losing, tired of being stuck at home during March Madness, tired of being dumped on in the Big 12, tired of not filling the arena, not selling more programs, jerseys, bobbleheads, bottle openers, keychains and every other doodad you can slap a Wildcat logo on.

"That, plain and simple, is why Bob Huggins is standing next to me today. He wins basketball games. I'll worry about all the other stuff when the NCAA opens a satellite office on campus."

Huggins will bring some great players to Kansas State, the Wildcats will win way more than they'll lose, and, sometime down the road, that satellite NCAA office in Manhattan will be calling Wefald with questions.

And anybody who didn't see it coming has no business running a grade school, let alone a university.

Comments

xenophonschild 8 years, 9 months ago

Huggins is a thug-lover. He'll go out and recruit inner-city thugs who can't count to a hundred, then set them on an unsuspecting Manhattan, which does not have and does not deserve anyones respect or affection, but still is home to many so-so okay people.

The quality of play in the Big 12 has already seeped to the level of playground ball (Curtis Stinson, Iowa State) and Huggins will only accelerate that tendency. The refs will have their hands full . . . and the Hawks will have to contend with attempted intimidation. Go Hawks!

quik 8 years, 9 months ago

It is hilarious the way Kansas fans are all wetting themselves over Huggins. Back to back first round face plants in the NCAA's and now your in-state rival has hired one of the most successful coaches in recent history. Kansas basketball dropped a notch when Roy left and it's really starting to show.

willie83 8 years, 9 months ago

Let's face it. Recruiting at a Big12 scool is light years from recruiting at Cincy. He had to recruit players the big confrences wouldn't touch while he was there. That won't happen at K-State. He'll take players away from Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and yes, KU. Every player that KU will be recruiting will also be recruited by K-State. That makes you all afraid and we understand.

As for DUI's, if you went to college, and I'm only assuming you did, you had a good friend who got one. I'm sure your attitude towards this person didn't change at all. And if you are honest, you should have gotten one, too!

BCmoore 8 years, 9 months ago

As a loyal K-Stater, I will admit I'm a little concerned that we'll become KU West, with knife fights, multiple player arrests, more bar fights, and recruits accepting thousands from boosters.

But I hope K-State can win without doing things the Bill Self way.

willie83 8 years, 9 months ago

Sorry for the typo ---- Big12 SCHOOL -----

Shardwurm 8 years, 9 months ago

I grew up in Manhattan and long for the days where we were actually competitive in basketball. Mike Evans, Chuckie Williams, Ed Nealy, Darryl Winston....the list goes on.

We all know that it takes players to win. If Bill Self and Jim Wooldridge had swapped jobs last year Self would have been beaten to death and Woolridge would be coach of the year.

The only way to bring talent to Manhattan is to hire a coach who can get it there. Huggins can do that. I just hope they have a pretty tight leash on him.

BCmoore 8 years, 9 months ago

In fairness, the players at KU wouldn't be there without Self (and boosters with money). Players play for coaches, not programs.

When KU sold its soul to bring in Larry Brown, fresh off having a Final Four team disqualified at UCLA (and prior to leaving KU on probation), they changed the course of the program for the better (in terms of visibility and wins). I don't think Huggins is quite as bad as Brown, and I don't think he'll run a renegade program to the degree Self does, but you've got to get a coach in place that recruits want to play for.

It's fun to realize K-State now has the highest profile coach in the North. Should make things interesting!

bangaranggerg 8 years, 9 months ago

if by interesting you mean continue to be laughable

bangaranggerg 8 years, 9 months ago

I wonder how many cows it took to boost the KSU football program all those years. Yee HA ha ha ha...

knc9955 8 years, 9 months ago

Why is it that the people who talk the most crap about Bobby Huggins are Jayhawks? We beat you with Woolridge, now we're sweeping you with Huggins. Let's face it, Huggins likes the JUCO players and that kind of trouble usually comes with the territory.

Thank you Giddens and to Coach Williams for letting your players get paid under the table. NCAA VIOLATIONS...... NOW that's serious.

willie83 8 years, 9 months ago

Your not going to see nearly as many JUCO players at K-State as he had at Cincy, He won't need them. He will get any high school player he wants at a Big12 school.

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