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Bock: WVU Basketball Should Embrace New Era



WVU Men's Basketball Fire Intro Jesse Edwards STOCK
Kelsie LeRose / WVSN

While WVU Basketball has been in limbo with interim HC Josh Eilert for this season, it’s pretty clear that the University will look for a new head coach this spring. Eilert was given the keys back in June for a transition year that has seen the program deal with much adversity as well as losses.

The fanbase has been speculating who the next leader of the men’s basketball program will be, with some wanting the returns of either Bob Huggins or John Beilein. Despite the success Huggins and Beilein brought to the program for the last two decades, it’s time for West Virginia to look ahead for a new era of Mountaineer basketball.

Before I get into my reasons why, in no way am I doubting Huggins and Beilein’s overall abilities to coach. Both brought WVU’s program to high levels of success, turning this job into a better one after their respective tenures. It’s just time for people to move on and embrace a new era.

Huggins, 70, had one of the safest jobs in the country while at WVU and the only way he could’ve lost it was doing exactly what he did during a six-week period. Huggins went on a Cincinnati radio station, throwing out an anti-gay slur. Regardless of what your opinion is on what Huggins did, I think majority agree that you can’t say that in today’s society. Huggins was punished at the time by WVU and was on thin ice. Just a month later, Huggins was arrested for a DUI in Pittsburgh and was forced to resign.

If you’ve seen Huggins at any point the last eight months, he looks better. People close to Huggins have mentioned he has not returned to drinking, which is awesome. It also seems like Huggins wants to get back into coaching again next season. I just don’t think it should be at West Virginia. Everyone expected Huggins’ last coaching job to be home for him but his actions last summer forced WVU to change those plans. West Virginia is 15-36 (and counting) their last three seasons of Big 12 play, two of which Huggins was the head coach. Huggins had another opportunity to turn the program around with a great transfer class but he messed up.

Huggins should be celebrated for what he did at West Virginia. Sure, his departure was ugly but what he did for the basketball program and the state shouldn’t go unnoticed.

John Beilein WVU

Michigan Athletics

Beilein, 71, last coached collegiate ball at Michigan in 2019. Beilein gave a shot at the NBA with the Cleveland Cavaliers but didn’t last his first season. Since Beilein has been gone from the game, the landscape of college athletics has changed a whole lot. The transfer portal is bigger than ever. Players are entering the portal, some almost every offseason. It’s way more difficult to build a traditional team in college basketball, which Beilein was great at during his time at WVU and Michigan. Name, Image and Likeness is now a thing. Players are now legally able to make money using their NIL. Now with the antitrust law, NIL has turned the NCAA into a scramble as they’ll probably not be allowed to deny players of transfer eligibility.

Beilein hasn’t had to deal with the new era. Who knows if he can adapt quickly to something he hasn’t had to deal with. We’ve seen Mike Krzyzewski, Roy Williams and Jay Wright leave the game recently, right after the transfer portal and NIL really took over. Who even knows if Beilein would enjoy it.

West Virginia made contact with Beilein last June before promoting Eilert to his interim position. Perhaps a short-term transition plan with Beilein could’ve worked if WVU didn’t want to hire internally.

Huggins and Beilein are both legends of the game. Each have won big-time at multiple schools and made an impact on West Virginia Basketball. To me, it’s not worth bringing in a coach that’s at the tail end of his career. WVU will be right back to this position looking for a coach when either decided to retire soon. It would be a nostalgia act.

WVU should be looking for their next generation of Huggins or their next generation of Beilein. It’s time to move on.

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