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On Bob Huggins

Is what happened really a surprise?

West Virginia v Maryland
Who has two thumbs and loves homophobic slurs?
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

First off, the offending audio. I do mean offending, so fair warning.

You probably don’t need a college degree to figure out what Bob Huggins said there. That Bill Cunningham heard it, didn’t address it, laughed, and called Huggins “the best ever” is also a surprise to no one who has been paying attention the last 40 years. None of this is a particular shock to anyone, the question now becomes what to do afterward.

Bob Huggins has been coaching for a long time. Back when he started tossing around homophobic slurs was just part of the landscape of college basketball. That obviously doesn’t make it right, it isn’t, but it does somewhat explain it. To a lot of people, that will be ok. We can give someone a pass because “that’s how they came up” or “back in my day” or whatever other tripe old white guys tend to trot out when they do something like this.

West Virginia did the only thing they could and suspended Huggins. He’s looking at losing a million dollars and missing some games. He will almost certainly coach next season. Xavier did the only thing they could and completely ignored it. Huggins did the only thing he could and issued an apology. (A decent apology, if we’re being fair.) Cunningham did the only thing anyone would expect him to do and just let it slide because that’s who he is.

But that shouldn’t be what college basketball is. It’s one, not very good, thing to think these things on your own in your private time. I’m not an advocate for speech that denigrates portions of society based on lifestyle, but we’re also not here to be the thought police. It’s an entirely different scenario to feel comfortable saying something like that on a recorded radio show that is going to collect millions of listens.

What, exactly, is the point of that? Huggins doesn’t like Xavier, we all know that. Use any manner of language to describe that feeling. Swear if you like, they’ll just bleep it out or hit the delay. That Huggins decided to use language specifically designed to insult a specific segment of the community speaks not to rivalry, but to who he is as a man.

Bob Huggins is the kind of guy who drives drunk and risks the lives of everyone around him and doesn’t suffer serious consequence. He’s the kind of guy who uses homophobic slurs to insult people. For years and years and years he’s shown who he is with every outburst at a player, fan, or referee. Now, he’s done it on a medium that has made him infamous to the point of having Washington Post articles written about him. Xavier fans aren’t surprised. Hateful, mean, and petty is just who Bob Huggins is.