Wednesday, October 25, 2017


Tom Keegan: West Virginia’s Bob Huggins a fountain of smart, original ideas, wardrobes

West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins during an NCAA college basketball game against Iowa State in the finals of the Big 12 tournament in Kansas City, Mo., Saturday, March 11, 2017. (AP photo)

West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins during an NCAA college basketball game against Iowa State in the finals of the Big 12 tournament in Kansas City, Mo., Saturday, March 11, 2017. (AP photo)


KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As he does every year at Big 12 Basketball Media Day, supervisor of officials Curtis Shaw explained new rules interpretations, including this year's emphasis on enforcing traveling more strictly.

Not surprisingly, it was West Virginia coach Bob Huggins who on Tuesday had the most interesting take on officiating.

I know what you’re thinking: Most of his words weren’t printable, were delivered at high volume and would infuriate referees. Wrong, more wrong, most wrong.

Huggins, a fascinating study in contrasts, offered a plan that would help the game, referees, players, coaches and fans in the stands and those tuning in on TV.

“You want to hear what I’d do?” asked Huggins, looking retro-spiffy in a gold vest, black slacks, bow tie and black-and-gold wingtip shoes.

Of course. You always want to hear opinions from unpredictable, original thinkers. They make the most compelling teachers.

“I’d hire four officials and I’d have a sub,” Huggins said. "The sub would be the replay guy, so you’re not waiting the six-and-a-half minutes it took to find out the guy wasn’t out of bounds in our game against Gonzaga. Have a guy right there who makes the calls.”

He’s already sitting in front of the monitor and doesn’t have to turn it around for the on-court refs to study it, confer, look at it again, have another chat and eventually reach a decision in more time than it took Jim Ryun to run a mile.

Huggins was just warming up.

“At the 16-minute mark, you sub a guy out and you sub him in,” Huggins said. “At the 12-minute mark, you sub that guy out and put the guy who sat there for (four minutes) back in, at the 16, 12, eight and four.”

A mentally and physically fresh referee is more alert and in better position to make calls.

“You’re asking 60, 65-year-old guys to keep up with 18-to-21-year-old kids who are world-class athletes," Huggins said. "It can’t happen. It absolutely can’t happen. And I’m convinced they call fouls sometimes just because they’re tired. They make calls to rest. They can’t run. And it’s not their fault. I’m not picking on them. It’s not their fault. So why don’t we have four officials instead of three, and sub?”

Huggins has discussed his why-didn't-somebody-think-of-this-years-ago suggestion with referees.

“Most of them think it’s a good idea,” he said.

Why isn’t it happening? Follow the money.

“We can never vote it in because the low majors and the mid majors don’t want to pay for four officials, and they outnumber us,” Huggins said.

The NIT has been known to experiment with possible rule changes. This one’s well worth a try. And if the officiating is better — and how can it not be? — leave it up to each conference whether to adopt the rule and use it for every NCAA tournament game. Allowing conferences to have different rules would require a rule change in itself. Huggins even had an idea as to where such meetings should take place and a characteristic that should disqualify anyone from serving on the committee.

“You should have to be over 6-feet tall to be on a rules committee,” Huggins said.


“Because the little (men), they worry about the little guys, and instead of them meeting in Palm Springs, they should meet in Buffalo in February,” Huggins said. “That way you get the people who really care and they’re going to go in there, get it done and get out.”

As a 5-foot-8-inch native of nearby Rochester, I’ll have you know I am ... not offended in the slightest. On the contrary, it’s always refreshing to talk to coaches who don’t size up their audiences and then go to great measures to ensure they don’t say anything that might offend somebody, so they say nothing at all.

Not Huggins. He always says something that makes his listeners think — a trait shared by all great teachers.


Joe Norgay 2 years, 4 months ago

Tom, can you please not let up on Zenger and the football team because it's basketball season? I'm sad that you didn't have a more blistering column following the 21 yard all time low performance by KU football. We're at one of the lowest points EVER in our programs history and people have barely made a peep. It's like die hard KU football fans are alone on an island while the administration and Lawrence elite couldn't give a crap about football and are just waiting around for basketball season to cover up the stench.

Sorry for going on a rant but.. please.. help us.

Jerry Walker 2 years, 3 months ago

Joe, I'd say you're the castaway if you think that KU football fans have been silent in their displeasure with the performance of Beaty and his staff and this pathetic squad of Jayhawks.

Tom Keegan 2 years, 3 months ago

Basketball Media Day I'll always cover basketball. Ditto for Football Media Day. Today's Lunch Break blog was on KU's football recruiting.

Bryce Landon 2 years, 3 months ago

While Huggy Bear might have good ideas, it's clear the ideas stem from his displeasure with the officiating in the Sweet 16, making him sound like he's still butthurt about the Gonzaga loss.

Joe Joseph 2 years, 3 months ago

Huggins coaches a brand of basketball that, if officials followed the letter of the law, would lead to half of his team fouling out every game. When other coaches decided to bend to the rule changes a few years back, he, instead, decided to dare officials to call fouls. Some times they do, many times they do not. So, kudos to Bob, as his philosophy clearly works (most of the time).

Waylon Cook 2 years, 3 months ago

Still trying to figure out the medias obsession with making an old drunk "polarizing".

Joe Baker 2 years, 3 months ago

Huggy is good for B12 bball. He runs a competitive team and you can say what you want, but he makes the B12 that much better. His squads are always tough. We need good doses of his squad to prepare us for the dance. I hate that damn press, but we all know Self teams need it to keep on their game. Self uses 7-8 practice players/mgrs when preparing for WVU's press.

I just wish our football program was as competitive for B12 football.

Robert Robinson 2 years, 3 months ago

Careful Bobby, fresh eyes will probably just pick up even more fouls in your full court foul fest defense you love to run

Edward Daub 2 years, 3 months ago

Huggy Bear would make a Good Fit in Buffalo, a "Shot and Beer" Town!

He wears a Warm Up Suit to Games, No Coat and Tie!

By the way, Jerry Sullivan of the Buffalo News is My Hero (he scolds My Bills daily)!

Lawrence McGlinn 2 years, 3 months ago

I love Huggs, but I feel he leads the list of "coaches most likely to die on the sideline." He is a medical marvel, but I just hope that defibrillator works flawlessly. I hate the way WVU plays, esp in Morgantown. Ugly! But they do look like the best chance at a rivalry in the Big 12. K-State is only a rival because of geography. Thirteen straight speaks to the brilliance of Self and KU, but it also highlights the weakness of the Big 12. Despite being in the Heartland, the Big 12 sometimes is actually overrated. Final Fours by conference in Self era (based on 2017 conf affiliations): ACC - 14, Big 10 - 10, SEC - 9, AAC - 6, Big 12 - 5 (KU twice, OSU, OU and WVU as Big East member), Big East - 4, Pac 12 - 4, A10 - 2, WCC - 1

Joe Black 2 years, 3 months ago

Most of those conferences are bigger (by number of teams) so mathematically should have better chances to have teams in the final four. The ACC has 15 teams, the Big 10 has 14, etc. And how could you say the Big 12 is overrated?, they are rarely (if ever) mentioned in national media as a great conference.

Lawrence McGlinn 2 years, 3 months ago

True that the Big 12 is smaller which accounts for some of the discrepancy. As for ratings, it is just my failing memory, but I have frequently seen the Big 12 listed as the 2nd best conference in the country over the past decade, due mostly to early-season success against other conferences. My real point is that a serious rival or two would help the team a lot in the postseason. At least. that is what I believe.

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