Bob Huggins is going to be completely fine. He’ll be fine because that’s who he is, and he’s going to want us all to move past what happened last night. Huggs will take no looks in rear-view mirrors. There will not be to be a March sabbatical for a coach with his best team since Da’Sean Butler decided to not lose. He was joking about players and referees alike trying to kill him less than a minute after collapsing on a basketball court. He’ll be fine.
Despite all that, last night made everyone in that building and in the entire state of West Virginia (and beyond) feel something. Whether it be worry, fear, or the idea that we might be closer to the end of Bob Huggins’ West Virginia Mountaineers than we are to the beginning, something stirred inside us.
West Virginia basketball will remain and West Virginia basketball will win. John Beilein saved this program and Bob Huggins came home to take it to the next level. But this was more than just a good coach.
The on-court successes are one thing, but with Bob Huggins, it has always seemed to mean more. He gets us, and we get him. He’s more than a coach—he’s a drinking buddy, a friend, a mentor, and sometimes he seems like a surrogate father for an entire state.
To us, Bob Huggins is more than a basketball coach and always will be. And when he went down on Monday night, I don’t think there was a heart beating across the entire state of West Virginia.
Don’t lie—you’ve had that fear in the back of your head that we’d see something like that happen. We make the jokes: “Truck is going to kill him.” “Those wacky #Big12Refs are going to send our Huggs to the hospital.” We know the history. Then, it happened. He called a timeout to coach up his team for a final shot, then he went down.
The entire team responded to pick up a larger than life man, and if they could, every single human being in the Coliseum would have been right down on the floor with them. That was our dad down there, and everyone’s worst fear coming true.
Really, where I’m going with this is to remind all of us to not take a second of this for granted. At the end of the day, sports are sports. They’re dumb, unimportant, and something that should never be taken seriously. Despite all that, they can mean everything to a beaten down state with not much more to hang its hat on. Bob Huggins represents the best and worst of all that. Swear, right now, that you will not forget one line of this era.
Don’t forget him walking out on the carpet and coming home. Don’t forget him turning John Beilein’s spot shooters into a rough and tumble half court monster. Don’t forget Devin Ebanks dunking over Pittsburgh. Don’t forget Joe Mazzulla beating Boogie Cousins. Don’t forget the country learning what we knew already when Da’Sean Butler was on the court in Indianapolis. Don’t forget Kevin Jones going for 20-10 at will. Don’t forget him saying, over and over, that he would fix it. Don’t forget him fixing it.
Again, Bob Huggins will be fine. He’s always fine because that’s who he is and why he represents us so well. But, this era will end and it may end before we want it too. And no matter what happens when it does—whether Darris Nichols comes full circle, whether we stay in-house or go national—we’re going to lose something that can never be replaced, and we must never forget that.