MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The Mountaineer men’s basketball coach is closing in on some pretty significant milestones, but Bob Huggins doesn’t put much stock in such things.
With 889 wins in his 39 seasons as a college coach, Huggins is sixth on the men’s all-time Division I victory list. He trails current North Carolina coach Roy Williams by just one, with Bob Knight (902), Jim Calhoun (917), Jim Boeheim (970) and Mike Krzyzewski (1,169) also ahead.
Now in his 14th season leading West Virginia, Huggins has a record of 299-163 at his alma mater. Win No. 300 could come Saturday afternoon at Oklahoma (4 p.m. on ESPN2).
Such milestones aren’t important to Huggins, though.
“I had absolutely no idea. I just don’t look at those kinds of things,” he said about the potential to achieve his 300th win at WVU. “My responsibility is to those guys in the locker room and trying to make them better and help them achieve their goals.
“I don’t know why I don’t pay attention to it, but I don’t, and I would be lying if I told you I did.”
Huggins has more than twice as many wins with the Mountaineers as any WVU coach other than Gale Catlett, who went 439-281 from 1979-2002.
It’s not that the victories don’t matter to Huggs. Anyone who has seen him after a loss knows very well how important the end result is to him. It’s just the individual achievement is not a big deal.
“I mean, it has been great being home,” said Huggins, who also spent time as a head coach at Walsh (1980-83), Akron (1984-89), Cincinnati (1989-2005) and Kansas State (2006-07) before returning to WVU in 2007. “For a kid who was running through Deckers Creek and Dug Hill (on the east end of Morgantown) in my early days, and then having the opportunity to come here and play and play in this building (is great). It is great to be back (as coach).
“I remember the press conference (announcing his hiring) when (former WVU athletic director) Eddie (Pastilong) went through all the coaches, and all of us were from West Virginia,” he added. “That was when Rich (Rodriguez) was here (for football), and (WVU women’s basketball coach) Mike Carey is a Clarksburg guy. Eddie is a West Virginia guy. We had a whole room full of West Virginia people, and that’s home.”
Born in Morgantown to parents (Charlie and Norma Mae Huggins) who were also natives of Morgantown, Bob moved to northeastern Ohio as a grade schooler when his dad, Charlie, got a job coaching and teaching at Midvale High in the early ‘60s.
None in the Huggins family forgot their Mountain State roots, though.
“Growing up, I spent a lot of time in Ohio, and my parents obviously spent a lot of time in Ohio,” said WVU’s coach. “If anybody mentioned West Virginia, it was home.
“My dad would send me up on the antenna tower to turn the antenna so that we could pick up the Wheeling station and West Virginia’s games. This state is obviously very near and dear to me.”
Huggins began his college playing career at Ohio University in 1972, but after a season with the Bobcats, he transferred to WVU and became a prominent point guard for the Mountaineers from 1975-77.
After his days as a player concluded, he followed his dad into the coaching profession. Eventually his path led him back to West Virginia, and now he stands on the doorstep of win No. 300 with the Mountaineers.
“I came here to try to do the best job I possibly could and elevate this program to national status and do what I could do to help with the facilities that we didn’t have,” said Huggins. “The place was exactly the same as it was when I left here. We certainly needed to uplift things and make it better and give guys an opportunity to do and be what they can be. I think we’ve done that.”