The offseason for college basketball can occasionally be slow. Recruiting keeps the interest of college basketball fans, but that can only last for so long. To void the gaps, ESPN and other sports media outlets like to have fun in the form of rankings and lists that lead to debate. This week? The top 50 current college basketball coaches. Today, ESPN released numbers 50 through 25. On the list was West Virginia Head Coach Bob Huggins, coming in at number 30. The question is, is this ranking too high, too low, or just right for the native West Virginian?
First, ESPN set out the criteria by which they ranked the coaches. Nearly 100 ESPN personnel ranked coaches on all aspects of running a program, based only on the current state of all programs. They state it is all about the present. This is what surprises me most about Huggins high ranking. With all the turnover and turmoil of the Mountaineer basketball program over the past 18 months, 30 could be considered a high ranking for Huggins.
Looking at the coaches closely surrounding Huggins, it's tough to argue that he deserves to be any higher. Jim Larranaga of the University Miami checks in at 28, two seasons off of taking Miami to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. Ranked number 29 is Jim Crews, Head Coach of the Saint Louis Billikens. Crews took over after the sudden passing of Rick Majerus.The Billikens are coming off a season where they finished 27-7. At one point, they reached the top 10 of the AP Top 25 and USA Today Coaches Poll. The Billikens ended up losing in the second round of the NCAA tournament to Lousiville.
Above Huggins are more great college basketball coaches. Checking in at 31 is Lon Kruger, Head Coach of the Oklahoma Sooners. Kruger took over after recruiting violations swarmed Oklahoma under Jeff Capel, and he has lead the Sooners to a rise in success. This year, Kruger lead Oklahoma to a second place finish in the Big 12 Conference Regular Season Standings, and a 27-10 record. The Sooners were upset in the first round of the NCAA tournament by North Dakota State. But the job Kruger has done bringing Oklahoma back from dark times cannot be commended enough. Ranked number 32 is Nebraska Head Coach Tim Miles. Miles and Nebraska finished fourth in the Big Ten Conference this season, and earned an NCAA tournament berth for the first time since 1998. The Cornhuskers earned upset wins over Michigan State and Wisconsin. The future is bright for Nebraska fans.
With all the success of the coaches around Bob Huggins, and the recent poor performance of the WVU basketball team, one can question why Huggins is ranked so high. The past two years have been underwhelming to say the least. Transfers have left the Mountaineers thin and the program has not had any major upsets, outside of the Kansas win to end the season. However, the ESPN personnel see the value Huggins has with the program. He brings a sense of respect to the Mountaineers, and teams know they are always in for a fight when they lace up against WVU. Could Huggins be ranked lower? Probably. But I would take him over any of the coaches ranked around him to lead my team.
What do you think? Is Huggins ranking too high, too low, or well-deserved?