As a fellow beautiful person, I find it hard to mock Doug Smock. I mean, look at the guy. Just perfection. The flowing locks, the kept mustache, designer glasses, and that playful grin. The man simply has it going on.
So when Doug talks, usually I listen, but mostly I just gaze into his big, inviting eyes. Then again, Doug usually talks about Marshall, which makes it easy for me to tune out what he’s saying and just stare at this Adonis of a man. But yesterday, Doug decided to go all WVU on me. Let’s just say I wasn’t pleased.
In sitting back and watching developments at West Virginia University from afar, and seeing the new contract awarded basketball coach Bob Huggins, I can’t help but ask the same question over and over.
Did God chisel my jaw from a boulder high atop Mount Olympus?
Is an 11-year contract a good idea? Ever?
Oh. I guess he went in another direction.
Let’s strip away, for the minute, any motivation president Mike Garrison had in hatching this deal. Let’s consider the base question here: Is an 11-year contract a good idea?
For the university?
For the coach?
Good question. The answer: maybe. Let’s first start off with the easy part.
Huggins has 616 all-time wins, ranking him 7th in wins and 8th in winning percentage among active coaches (it says so right in his Wikipedia page). He is a consistent winner, averaging at least 23 wins over his career, and while he hasn’t had the most success in the post-season, he has made it that far in 22 of 25 years.
WVU, on the other, might be just a tad gun-shy after being straight dumped by its last two high profile coaches (I’m looking at you Rich Rodriguez and John Beilein, not you Veronica Hammersmith). Locking up a proven winner (including a Sweet 16 with an undermanned team last year) and a favorite son seems like a no-brainer.
(Also, WVU did the smart thing and covered its ass as far substance-abuse and DUIs go. While all signs point to Huggins getting over his past problems, from a business perspective, WVU took the necessary precautions. Huggins respectfully agreed to the terms, a classy move on his part.)
So there we go, an 11 year contract. Not that hard, right?
I know Huggins has a brilliant basketball mind. I know he is a capable recruiter. What he did with the 2007-08 Mountaineers was beyond admirable.
And, as you’ll see in a later item, I love a good villain.
But 11 stinkin’ years? Aren’t there comets that cross galaxies in that span?
C’mon Doug, us beautiful people don’t know astrology.
I could – and probably should – write a book about the evils of long-term contracts, and all the ones that turned out miserably, hopelessly bad.
I could also write the exact opposite book about long-term contracts and include all the ones that turned out roses and lilac.
Let’s just take major league pitchers, for example: There is only one pitcher I’ve known in three-plus decades who should have received a contract longer than three years. That’s Greg Maddux, the mound mastermind who never blew out his elbow, shoulder or anything else.
Or Johan Santana. Or Randy Johnson. Ah hell, let’s name a bunch of them: Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax, Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson, Tom Glavine, Warren Spahn, Tom Seaver, Bob Feller, Nolan Ryan. (I could go on, but I won’t.)
All guys with little or no injury history. All guys deserving of contracts longer than three years.
My list of athletes and coaches in all other disciplines who merit contracts much longer than three years is awfully short: Jordan, Gretzky, Lemieux, Gwynn, Griffey, the elder Earnhardt and I’m starting to struggle for anybody else.
Eleven years? Forget it.
Really, that’s all you could come up with?
I just named like 10 pitchers and you had to go to NASCAR to come up with your 6th athlete? Did you mail this column in so you could have more time to go tanning? Afterall, us glitterati have to tan.
And if I were blessed with the gift to land a seven- or eight-figure salary, I wouldn’t want anything too long, either. Ownerships, management, fan opinion and the scenery, they’re all subject to change – sometimes overnight. I can see where Huggins is plenty content to remain in Morgantown, but will he coexist with his employers forever?
Maybe not, but the only reason he left Cincinnati was because of the aforementioned DUI arrests. WVU took care of that potential problem in the contract.
I am reminded that Marshall football coach Mark Snyder has a too-long contract that will not be fulfilled. If he rights the ship, the money will be renegotiated. If he doesn’t win at some point … you know how those things end.
That was his big finish. Seriously.
Mark Snyder career wins: 12. Bob Huggins career wins: 616.
Stick to male modeling and Marshall sports, Doug. Leave the WVU stuff to us.
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