West Virginia’s Bob Huggins torches Marshall after coach calls Huggs ‘afraid’

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West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins didn’t hold back when commenting on the West Virginia-Marshall “rivalry” that took place over the weekend.

The Mountaineers knocked off the Thundering Herd 69-66, and after the game, new Marshall head coach Dan D’antoni took aim at Huggins and West Virginia, calling them out to try and get the Mountaineers to schedule them twice during the season.

He said Huggy Bear was scared.

“I heard suggestions for a home and home,” D’antoni said. “Here’s my suggestion: Morgantown, Charleston. Next year Charleston, Huntington and just keep it that way. It’s good for the state. If they back out now they’re afraid of us. We’re coming back.”

That wasn’t a good idea.

Huggins, on his radio show on Monday night, took a blowtorch to the Herd. You can here it all here (click 12/15 Bob Huggins, it’s early in the show), but I’ll transcribe it for you anyway. After some small talk about interviews he’s done with host Tony Caridi and the other little things that coaches get asked on their radio shows, Huggins is asked how he’s doing. His response? “A lot of things now are laughable.” Oh really, Bob. Do elaborate (this gets long, but it’s totally worth it, I promise. I’ve also, with the help from friends over at Smoking Musket, cut this down to what Huggins is saying without all the banter):

Huggins: I probably coached a thousand games. And now I’m scared. Scared to play Marshall. Scared to death. It’s terrible. Must have been when I turned 61 that the fear set in because I’ve never felt that way before. Now I’m just scared to death of Marshall. But that’s what the word is.

[…]

I’m just saying I guess I’m getting old. […] The whole thing’s comical. I just happen to get the paper. We have a little column about what a rivalry we have. But really the headline is the Morgantown High-University High girls. And above that Trickett’s in limbo. And they think this is a rivalry. It is sports this time, though.

Tony: You do not view this game as a rivalry?

Huggins: Tony. How can it be a rivalry when they don’t even care to write about it in the paper? I mean, those are the guys asking me the questions. ‘Is this a rivalry?’ Well, obviously not. You don’t write about it. I mean, rivalries they put on the front page. They can’t wait, you know what I mean? They get really excited. We obviously don’t get very excited.

Tony: So would it bother you if the game went away?

Huggins: No.

Tony: It would not?

Huggins: No. Not at all. Not at all.

(Applause! There was applause!)

Do you want to get into it? Let’s be honest. I have all the RPIs of all the people we’ve played this year. Going into the game Marshall was 270 in the RPI. After playing us they jumped all the way up to 237. Now, you know what that would do for us if we happen not to win? We were 36 I think it was coming into the game.

You try not to play anybody below 200, you know that. And now they want to play twice in a year? Are you kidding me? It’s like I said: Why don’t we do what’s best for West Virginia University and the state of West Virginia. I don’t think it’s my job to support them. I don’t think that’s part of my contract.

He can say I’m afraid all he wants to say I’m afraid. I’ve probably coached 1,116 more games than he has. It’s ridiculous to say something like that. We’re afraid. Yeah, we’re really afraid. It’s crazy, we’ve beaten Duke. Mike’s a pretty good coach. Was I afraid? I don’t think I was afraid playing Duke. Played Boeheim. Used to play him every year. He’s a pretty good coach, I wasn’t afraid. Why would I be afraid?

And the thing that’s most laughable, and I’ll get in trouble for saying it, I know, but I’m to the point in my life where I really don’t care. How about this: “We’re back.” That was their sixth loss in a row. “We’re back”. (Laughs) “We’re back”, alright. Honestly it becomes laughable. It’s laughable. So they lose by three, “we’re back.” It’s their sixth loss in a row. Three of them at home.

Jay Jacobs: “Either he’s the dumbest guy or he’s the smartest guy in the world.”

Huggins: My fear is that our people get caught up in this stuff and do something that’s not in our best interest. It’s not in our best interest to play a team who […] this is the fifth time in ten years that they’ve been 160 in the RPI or worse. How’s that in our best interest? It’s not in our best interest. It’s not in the best interest of West Virginia basketball.

To go to Charleston, I think it really is good for the kids that can’t get here and those kind of things. Now think of this if you’re Marshall and no one’s coming to your games why wouldn’t you want someone that’s going to fill the place up. They’re not going to fill our place up. It’s not equitable. He wants to sit here and act like it’s equitable, it’s not equitable. We play in the No. 1 RPI league in America. The No. 1 RPI league in America. And has been for quite awhile.

Conference USA’s RPI, as of today, they’re the 15th ranked conference. How is that equitable? It’s not equitable. It’s laughable.

Tony: I’m glad you got that off your chest.

Huggins: Tony, today we had seven teams out of the top 27 in the country. Six of our coaches have been in the Final Four. 60% of our league coaches have been in the Final Four. We’ve had the second-most amount of draft picks, the second-most amount of lottery picks coming out of our league. And that’s with ten teams. The ACC’s No. 1, but they have 16 teams.

We’re the best basketball league in America. And we’re afraid. What a joke. What a joke. It’s laughable, Tony, it’s laughable.

Jay: I thought you were going to say the way you played.

Huggins: Well, that was miserable.

Jay: You mean to tell me he did not stir you up with his comments.

Huggins: Jay you of all people know I love this university and I take great pride in being able to represent this university. And for someone to say that West Virginia University is afraid, please. Please.

Jay: Well they say that they’re going to be there next year.

Huggins: So will we.

(Huggins pulls out a newspaper)

We got the headline for the womens’ game. It’s IUFW. The day before the game.

Tony: Ft. Wayne.

Huggins: That was the headline. The day before the game. It’s a rivalry though, Tony, by god. Here in Morgantown, we don’t even get their box scores. I tell you what, it’s a rivalry, we hang on everything that goes on down there in Marshall. We don’t get their box scores here. You gotta look at. I don’t even know where that is (meaning where in the paper’s national list of box scores they list Marshall games), wherever they are the east or south or whatever to look and see if they won or lost but I doubt that anyone here really does that.

Tony: So basically as you beat around the bush here you’re saying you’re not going to play them twice.

Huggins: It would be a travesty. It would be a travesty.

Tony: You done?

Huggins: It bothers me because, maybe it was a shot at me, I don’t know. But I took it as a shot to our university and that’s not right. I mean, come on. I could go on and on and on.

You try to tell your players “this is where I am in life, and if I wanna aspire to be higher, then I gotta work my butt off.” But it doesn’t come by just saying “why don’t we play four times. Ten maybe.” Come on, man. I try really, really hard not to schedule people below 200. Really, really hard. If you look Lafayette’s in the top 100. We try to research that. Now it’s not a science, but you try. You really try.

VMI’s RPI is better than Marshall’s. Come on. It don’t help us. From a pure basketball standpoint of where we want to go it does not help us. Now it helps them. I understand his point, it helps them. Oh, to get us to come in, fill their place with 7,000 people? That’s a big thing for them. It’s not my job to do that. That’s his job.

Tony: Will you make any move not to play them in the future?

Huggins: I think if this kind of thing continues, why would we? Why we want to sit here and hear we’re afraid? Go find somebody else to play.

Never change, Huggs. Never change.