Bob Huggins set aside his differences with the University of Cincinnati long enough to make a triumphant return to Fifth Third Arena for the Grand Opening of the newly-renovated building.
The arena has been in use all season, but with UCLA in town and with Huggy Bear’s West Virginia team off until Saturday, the school opted to have Wednesday night be the night where they celebrated:
What makes this return so fascinating is that Bob Huggins absolutely despises the school even if he still loves the city of Cincinnati and the fan base that supported him for all the years that he was the head Bearcat in charge.
Most people know the story: Huggins ran a program full of players that didn’t always stay on the right side of the law and weren’t known for their academic prowess. One player beat up two cops that showed up to try and stop him from beating on his girlfriend. Another player was arrested for allegedly torturing his roommate, tying him to a chair and burning him with lit cigars and a red-hot coat hanger. Art Long punched a police horse.
Then, in 2005, a year after Huggins was arrested for a DUI, he was forced out at Cincinnati by the school president in a manner that was not overly friendly. As Huggins and the president jockeyed for power during the offseason — Huggins pushing for a contract extension, president Nancy Kimpher emphatically saying no — it call came to a head that August, when the school released a statement to the media that said Huggins would have 24 hours to announce his resignation or be fired.
This first line of the statement read: “This letter represents the University’s best and final offer regarding the manner in which Bob Huggins will cease coaching Men’s Basketball at UC.”
But Huggins still made his way back on Wednesday.
He heard the crowd cheer for him. He waved back and showed his appreciation for the city and the fans that helped him become a legend in the sport. He even dressed in a double-breasted blazer and khakis for the occasion.
Bob Knight, whose frosty relationship with Indiana has kept him separated from the Hoosier faithful since his firing nearly two decades ago, could learn a thing or two.