If you are a public figure there are things you cannot do and keep your job. Some of those parameters change if you’re a college sports coach.
We’ve seen plenty of people who have gotten behind the wheel of a car and driven while over the legal limit. Many of those people have kept their jobs. The legal limit for blood alcohol content is a state by state law but everyone has adopted the 0.08 limit by this point. Mark Few was suspended by Gonzaga after he was arrested and later blew a 0.12. So clearly it’s not a complete disqualifier to stay employed.
What Bob Huggins did on Friday night is so far removed from being over the legal limit, and he’s very lucky he didn’t kill someone.
Huggins took a field sobriety test and failed. He had a shredded tire. He did not know what city he was in, or how he got there. His BAC was a recorded 0.21, nearly three times the legal limit to drive. He had a trash bag in the front passenger footwell that was full of empty beer cans, and more in the trunk of his car.
The report is a scary and worrisome outcome and it looks like the end of a Hall of Fame level career.
This is all after Huggins used homophobic slurs while live on the radio just a few weeks back. For that transgression Huggins received a 3 game suspension, a reduction in his contract to just one year, and a reduction in salary. The punishment wasn’t severe but it was a pretty harsh rebuke for a man who was coaching at his alma mater and who had the deep backing of the big donors at West Virginia. Basically, if Bob Huggins wasn’t who he was the outcome may have been different.
But that transgression wasn’t this one, and it wasn’t on the heels of his most recent transgression.
There were some who speculated if Huggins was drinking before his radio appearance, after all the audio seemed to indicate Huggins’ speech was a bit slurred, and as we know people’s inhibitions loosen after a few drinks.
I don’t mean to diagnose from afar, but there are a lot of signs of alcoholism here. If you have followed me over the years you know I’m a fan of spirits. I’ve talked a lot about my favorite whiskey distilleries, my favorite breweries, and more. So I’m not really the person you would think would be critical of someone else’s relationship with alcohol.
Everyone has a relationship with alcohol, even if you don't partake. I know people with unhealthy relationships, and I make sure I retain a healthy relationship. If you end up on the side of the road with a shredded tire, beer cans throughout your car, and not knowing what city you’re in... you do not have a healthy relationship with alcohol.
And in that form I feel a lot of empathy for Bob Huggins. And so should everyone. Huggs is a rich man at this point, he’s wealthy and powerful. He’s had a very fortunate and blessed career. He’s also a mess, shellshocked, and probably incredibly embarrassed. He should be too. He put his own and other lives at risk with his poor decision making.
This is Bob Huggins’ fault. And only Huggins can atone for his mistakes. It would be easy to for him to shrink into the background and fade into nothing. He’s made enough money he can sit in the dark and spend the rest of his days as inebriated as he was on Friday night. Or he can take some time to reflect on what led him to make those fateful decisions, see the problem and work to make amends. Huggins can still have his hero’s tour and get the respect and love his Hall of Fame career deserves. But he’s got to own up and make real changes and find a far healthier relationship with the drink, whatever that entails. It’s a long road up ahead, but those who love the West Virginia program, and College Basketball overall, deserve that from Huggins. He owes it to himself as well. It’s a tough thing to admit when you’ve made a colossal mistake, or series of mistakes, as Huggs has. But I hope he has the wherewithal to do the right thing in the aftermath and fix himself.