Basketball has a rich history at the University of Cincinnati; and the 1980s weren’t very good and the fans weren’t happy. In 1990 UC hired a young, intense coach from the University of Akron, Bob Huggins. Boom – a Final Four team in 1992 – and the program was off and running.
The ’92 team was still may favorite. A pressure defense, banging the boards, the ability to go inside or outside, and an overall team intensity serve to trademark future teams under Huggs.
Under Huggins the UC Bearcats were a team people either loved or loved to hate. People place hats on coaches, white or black, and Bob Huggins is definitely a black hatter to many fans. Although he loved and served the community, it’s this perception that helped him fall.
His critics didn’t see the side of taking kids and turning them into adults. They criticized him for not graduating players, yet couldn’t explain the pictures of basketball players in graduation grab on the basketball office walls. They criticized the players as thugs, yet didn’t notice those who have stayed in the city and successfully contributed to the community. They simply criticized his team for being tough and winning. Yes, there were player issues, but these type of issues occur on many campuses.
I was bitter by the way his departure was handled. He deserved better. In the end his arrogance got to him as the university president was committed to the change.
In mid-February UC announced it would honor Huggins during a pregame ceremony. Coincidently, on the same day, the same university president who showed Huggs who is boss, announced her departure for the New York State system.
Now at West Virginia, Bob Huggins returned to Fifth Third Arena as a coach for the first time. It was a special moment for him, a great moment for the fans, and a softening moment for the university. No matter the situation, time is a wonderful healer of all to all.