WVU’s Huggins should be in mix for Big 12, national coach of the year

WVU’s Huggins should be in mix for Big 12, national coach of the year

This shall be a short blog because it could qualify for “Freezing Cold Takes” within hours.

But when WVU’s basketball team hosts No. 3 Baylor today at 5, the Mountaineers’ NCAA seeding isn’t the only issue.

There’s the matter of Big 12 and, perhaps, national coach of the year honors.

Because the Mountaineers’ Bob Huggins should be right in the mix for both. At least at 11 a.m. on Tuesday.

Now, don’t misunderstand. I get it.

Juwan Howard of Michigan is the odds-on favorite to win the national award. He’s done a great job and would be worthy. The Wolverines have been impressive to say the least.

Yet compare Howard’s situation to that of Huggins. Remember, the Mountaineer coach’s predecessor, John Beilein, left a terrific situation in Morgantown because of Michigan’s advantages. And the only reason he left UM was to coach in the NBA.

Huggins, meanwhile, has had to scrap for his standouts, like Miles McBride, featured today by The Athletic.

More importantly, though, Huggins may have put forth his best coaching performance at WVU since the 2010 Final Four team.

Consider he lost one of the school’s only McDonald’s All-America recruits earlier in the season, adapted and IMPROVED the team. That’s crazy.

The problem Huggins has is not only are there other great national coaching candidates out there like Gonzaga’s Mark Few, Illinois’ Brad Underwood — both, by the way, close Huggins friends – as well as Florida State’s Leonard Hamilton and Ohio State’s Chris Holtmann, there are names to consider right there in the Big 12.

Like Baylor’s Scott Drew. Which makes today’s game even bigger.

Personally, I think if WVU even keeps the game close against Baylor that Huggins should still win the award in the Big 12. It’s amazing how he’s kept the team not only together, but moving in a positive, Top 10 direction.

Yet a win over the Bears could catapult Huggins not only for the Big 12 award, but nationally –as long as the Mountaineers keep winning.

My last point: The Big 12 tournament is yet to be played. West Virginia could make more waves there. Also, there’s the NCAA tournament.

But votes are solicited and completed early.

Let’s see what kind of love Huggins receives.

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Mitch Vingle covered sports in West Virginia for 38 years. Follow Mitch on Twitter at @MitchVingle and be sure to check out the rest of Wheelhouse Creative’s website for your marketing and advertising needs. If interested, call us at 304-905-6005.


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