Caridi: Bob Huggins = Salesman

  • By Tony Caridi
  • |
  • February 01, 2011 05:07 PM
  • |
To my knowledge Bob Huggins has always been a basketball coach. He’s never worked in the world of sales, as far as I know.

However, if the hoop thing ever goes dry he might want to give a strong look at the sales thing. That’s because last week, somewhere between leaving Morgantown on an unexpected five-day adventure, Huggins sold the Mountaineer basketball team.

Yep, sold the team.

Didn’t know it was for sale?

Bet you thought the university owned it. Well, I think it does, but it didn’t matter to the coach; he still sold it. Great job on his part because if had to create a classified it would have looked something like this:

FOR SALE: Available immediately, college basketball team, eight scholarship players, two walk-ons included. Leading scorer not included. No freshmen recruiting class available, sophomore class includes one player. As a matter of full disclosure, senior point guard playing on first-ever surgically repaired shoulder to correct his congenital defect.

Guess who stepped up and bought this basketball version of the Bad News Bears? They did. Pardon the grammatical peculiarity of the sentence, but the Mountaineers bought themselves.

Their coach, ahem, sales associate Huggins, has been pleading with them since October to take ownership of the Mountaineer team. He used the soft-sell, the hard-sell, the Billy Mays in-your-face sell, and none of it worked until finally … finally … the Mountaineers said yes.

Although no deed of transfer will ever be filed at the clerk’s office, the Mountaineers of 2010-11 finally bought in. That’s how before a crowd of 22,000 red-clad Louisville fans they came within a heartbreaking whisker of victory. It’s how they went into a sold-out Fifth Third Arena in Cincinnati and gave the Bearcats their first home loss of the season in convincing fashion.

Like most new owners, this group made some immediate tweaks to their purchase. Instead of remodeling the kitchen, like most people do, they went right after the team’s culture. Let’s say it has become more commune-style than the isolationism that appeared at various times in the season’s first three months. Winning has supplanted “getting mine” and doing the right thing has replaced “I think I’ll do it my way.”

Like with any new purchase there will be some growing pains, but as the Mountaineers round the corner and prepare for a stretch run that includes more ranked teams than most schools see in two seasons, all the new owners seem content. And so is their head-coach-turned salesman: he learned long ago that a team’s ultimate success or failure is determined not by how much he wants to win, but by how much they want to win.