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BEFORE HE WAS in charge of the Bearcats, Huggins had another interaction with a famous coach. Huggins wouldn't name this one and said only that he was into "treacherous" things.
"He called me and said, 'We're going to play home-and-home, but you have to come here first and it's going to be nationally televised,'" Huggins said.
He was excited, but also suspicious. Huggins called other coaches he knew and ones he thought might know the treacherous one.
"They said he does it all the time and then he cancels the second game," Huggins said. "They told me if I did it, to put a big buyout in there. So I called him and said, 'Here's what I need. Put in the contract that if it's not a nationally televised game, we're not coming, and if you don't come back to our place, it's going to cost you X amount of money.'"
That series never happened.
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HUGGINS IS three jobs removed from his time at Akron and there are fewer hurdles because of where he is, where he's been and what he's done along the way. This is not to say he doesn't have problems and ones he can't fix.
"This isn't really a destination point," he said. "This isn't going to New York City. This isn't going to Orlando. Coming here in the dead of winter?"
Even if it were a tropical place, the Mountaineers would still have some trouble getting teams to come to the Coliseum just because of the way college basketball is wired today.
"There are a lot of factors and coming here, we've probably changed a little bit," he said. "What we used to do was figure out who we thought was winning the MAC, the OVC and their RPI would be between 75 and 100 and our strength of schedule was better doing that than it is now playing the people we've played."
Scheduling those mid-majors is harder now because the leverage major schools have is no longer as strong. A wealth of recruits and excellent coaching has created parity that runs deep into the second-level conferences. Those conferences are stronger and now get multiple teams into the NCAA Tournament. They don't need to schedule multiple major programs to prop up their schedule.
"They don't want to come in and get beat by 30," Huggins said. "Why come in and play when we're really good? Everyone knows when they're going to be good and when they're not. Why come in and play us when you have a chance to go to another place and win a game and get the same check?"
They don't need a major opponent to get on television either because the list of networks has ample opportunities to get mid-majors on television. Many smaller schools now have different terms for their negotiations because they feel their time should be worth more to the larger programs. Huggins said some small schools will agree to play bigger teams, but then sort through multiple offers from bigger schools and pick the best deal.
"Honestly, it's so oversaturated now," Huggins said. "They're on TV already. You can flip through and find them on TV now. They don't need us to do it."
And that's where it can get messy. WVU has played No. 4 Wisconsin, No. 21 Gonzaga and No. 23 Missouri. They're a combined 32-1.
Only Gonzaga was a home game and WVU countered that by playing at Virginia Tech in the second game of a four-game series. The other seven opponents are ranked between Nos. 189 (Loyola) and 348 (Presbyterian) in the RPI with an average rank of 254. Purdue is No. 89, 17 slots lower than the Hokies.
"You've got to win games," Huggins said. "Everyone says you've got to play a great schedule and you'll get rewarded. You get rewarded more when you win than if you lose. Maybe we should have backed off a little bit being as young as we are, but the truth is, I didn't know we'd be this young."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mi...@dailymailwv.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/wvu.