Earlier this week, the University of Cincinnati announced that it was ceasing contract negotiations with current Head Basketball Coach, Bob Huggins. Huggins has only two years remaining on his contract and UC has decided not to negotiate an extension. he has announced that he will not accept a buyout and that he plans to remain in his post until the completion of his contract. Of course, this soap opera is nowhere close to being over.
This current situation is interesting on many fronts, including the question of how in the world Huggins contract has rolled to the point of only having two years on it? For as long as I can remember, NC State administrators, coaches, and fans have emphatically adhered to a practice that coaches “need 5 years on their contracts to be successful”. It seems that every offseason, Les Robinson, Mike O’Cain and Herb Sendek had years tacked on to their contracts under the flag of “must have for recruiting success”. I never quite bought the reasoning of why State’s administrators were always so willing to financially and administratively handcuff themselves for coaches that were consistently underperforming, or not delivering championship quality results at best.
It is good to see that not all athletics administrators live by the opinion that coaches are entitled to jobs for life and don’t allow themselves to be held hostage to this coach-created myth that recruiting is so heavily reliant on long-term deals. Coaches should EARN long term deals. The Universities coffers are not entitlement programs designed to pay an annuity to coaches that have NOT delivered high-level results when they were working with the very long term deals that they continue to seek.
This UC situation reminds me of Ron Wellman’s strategic decision to push Dave Odom from his job at Wake Forest, despite Odom’s place as the most successful coach in the history of the Wake Forest program. Huggins, obviously is one of the most successful coaches in all of the country. ( In fact, one could argue that after Roy Williams claimed his national championship this year that Huggins may be the most decorated/successful coach in the country to not have one a National Championship). Obviously, there seems to be few parallels between the national off-the-court perceptions of Huggin’s and Odom’s programs.
A UC sports website recently proposed a list of 10 potential candidates to replace Huggins. One of the names on the list once wore the red & white:
“6. ANDY KENNEDY
UAB Graduate (1991)
Now-Assistant Coach University of Cincinnati
Then-Former college and professional player who’s worked his way up the coaching ranks.
Why he would be a good fit – Kennedy knows the system in place at the current time. While he may not be the long term choice, he would provide a coach the players know and trust. Considered a coach on the rise over the past few years , Andy Kennedy has proven he can recruit players to the university.
Why he wouldn’t – As a assistant for Coach Huggins, Kennedy may have mixed feelings about being the coach to replace him. While he’s proven as an assistant, he’s may not be ready for the “Big Time”. Also, would the university want to replace Huggins with one of his assistants? And will the now famous Fax to former recruit Keith Butler come back on him now?”