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Archive for Saturday, April 7, 2007

Keegan: Huggins bashed unfairly

April 7, 2007

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So let me get this straight: Bob Huggins leaves Kansas State after one year, and he's a snake who slithered all the way to West Virginia, his alma mater. After all, Huggins told top recruit Michael Beasley he would be the coach at Kansas State, and now he won't be.

Yet, it's an aw-shucks, gee-whiz moment when Billy Gillispie, who told top-10 recruit DeAndre Jordan of Houston he would be there for him, leaves his home state, trading a job at Texas A&M in for one at Kentucky.

It's all about image-conscience guys catching breaks and Huggins, as real a man as there is among sports celebrities, getting skewered. Huggins believes in himself too much to waste time and energy crafting an image.

Sure, it was a tough break for the Kansas State players that Huggins left them behind, just as it was for Bill Self's Illinois players and recruits when he left for Kansas University, and for the Kansas players and recruits when Roy Williams left Lawrence for Chapel Hill.

Yet, it's only Huggins who gets fitted for devil's horns.

It's an unpleasant risk college athletes take when they sign on with a coach. No preventative medicine exists to make sure they don't get burned. Big-time college basketball coaches are great salesmen, or they wouldn't become so successful. A high school player, his parents and/or sometimes even palms-up handlers are no match for great salesmen.

Based on the pity-drenched reaction of the Kansas State administrators, even they were no match for a great salesman when he told them he saw himself retiring in Manhattan.

Kansas State president Jon Wefald, under whom the school's academics and football program grew extraordinarily, signed off on the school's hiring of Dana Altman in 1990. So what? To take the job in Manhattan, Altman left Marshall after one year there. That's what. The timing was just fine then, though.

Oh well, at least K-State rebounded swiftly and wisely Friday, one day after the embarrassing news conference. Huggins assistant Frank Martin's promotion to head coach and the retention of assistant Dalonte Hill means the two top recruits - Beasley and Dominique Sutton - won't ask out of their letters of intent. Huggins lured Hill to Manhattan to land both recruits.

That's good news for Kansas because the stronger the conference, the more ready the Jayhawks will be for the NCAA Tournament.

No question the Big 12 took a big hit this week, losing two of its five marquee coaches (Self, Bob Knight, and Rick Barnes remain), but the retention of the talent Huggins recruited helps the conference maintain a high profile.

Now, it's imperative Texas A&M hires a coach who can keep the great recruiting class Gillispie lined up before bolting for bluer grass and greener pockets.

A&M assistant Alvin Brooks is a candidate. So are former Gillispie assistants Buzz Williams of New Orleans and Doc Sadler of Nebraska. Williams and Sadler have been at their schools for one season. If either man gets the offer and leaves for College Station, don't expect him to be demonized, a la Huggins. They smile better for the camera.

Comments

cowboy 7 years, 8 months ago

if you dance with the town whore don't be surprised when she leaves you

these new coaches won't last two seasons

quik 7 years, 8 months ago

Comparing Dana Altman leaving Marshall after one year to what Bob Huggins did to K-State is absurd. Altman was a young up and comer leaving a mid-major for a major conference job. Bob Huggins was hired at K-State when no one else would touch him. Huggins did and does have an image whether he takes the time to craft one or not. At Cincinnatti, he earned the well known reputation for not graduating any of his players and ignoring his player's constant brushes with the law. Dickie V. and others were pleading for someone to give Bob Huggins another chance and were highly complementary of KSU when they did. When Huggins was hired at K-State, the AD took responsibility for the oversight of the players and their academic progress. Bob Huggins was told to, "just go coach basketball." He repaid those that gave him an opportunity when no one else would and worked hard to make his job easier by bolting after one year. That is just not nearly the same situation as a young coach with no baggage leaving for his first job at a major conference school.

lovecats 7 years, 8 months ago

Tom, I totally agree with you. Don't let these KU homers get on your nerves. What they really are afraid of is that K-State is going to collectively wipe their bottoms soon in basketball and make the Sunflower Civil War a real basketball game, a true contest between rivals. Too bad we didn't do it this year, but you know, unlike many of your readers, how close we are to accomplishing that final task. Sure, many in the Wildcat Nation were upset with Huggin's departure after believeing that he had bonded with the city, university, and fans, particularly the students. But the way the university has moved to hire Frank Martin and Delonte Hill has restored my confidence in the men's basketball program.

You should be commended for a fine piece of analysis. I am proud to know you...remember, we met in the Fred during Billy Walker's first game...and you told me that you really wear purple undies...only kidding...but you are one heck of an sports commentator...keep up the good work. Too bad "The Drive" is off the air until the start of the football season, because we would like to hear your take on the state of basketball in the Sunflower state.

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