By Matthew Waxman
Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Bob Huggins
Every year without fail the Bearcats trot out a police, er, starting lineup stocked with juco transfers and miscreants. Cin City ballers have been charged with every crime in the book -- and some that aren't: Donald Little was kicked off the team in April 2002 for taping his roommate to a lawn chair, throwing weights at his head, clubbing him with a whiskey bottle and burning him with a heated coat hanger. Only then did Little stab him. The warden of this outfit? Coach Bob Huggins. Yes, Huggy Bear has taken Cincy to 12 straight NCAA tournaments; the problem is that student-athlete is not the preferred term for describing the players who have gotten the Bearcats there. Huggins's 1996 comment "Our guys have done a good job educationally" rivals any of Baghdad Bob's assertions. The team's graduation rate, according to the latest NCAA figures, is 25%. But it was Coach Bob's performance during his DUI arrest in June that cemented his Most Vile status: When Huggins staggered from his Lexus, the officer spotted vomit on the inside of the car door. At least the puke matched Huggins's sweater.
John Calipari has turned Elvis's resting place into a way station for high school stars en route to the pros. With his patented Refuse to Lose attitude, Coach Cal pushes the envelope when it comes to recruiting no-nos. To sign Dajuan Wagner, the carpetbagger coach handed Wagner's best friend a scholarship and hired Wagner's father as Memphis's director of basketball operations. In return Wagner bolted to the pros after one year. The Tigers are also the choice for none-and-doners: Amare Stoudemire, Kendrick Perkins and Qyntel Woods all committed to Memphis before jumping straight to the NBA. (And let's not forget the sanctions levied against UMass upon Calipari's departure in 1996 and his calling a reporter a "Mexican idiot" when he was with the New Jersey Nets.)
We confess: We thoroughly enjoyed the Tark the Shark era, with its shady candids of players gone to roost with a booster in a hot tub and a starting five that made NBA teams drool. But remember, you can't spell unlovable without UNLV. The school, in an effort to distance itself from its outlaw past, first turned to the grandfatherly Charlie Spoonhour. Now it has hired squeaky-clean Lon Kruger, which is a bit like casting a kid from Amish country in The Real World: Las Vegas.
As the sexy pick from Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski's portfolio of polished assistants, coach Quin Snyder operated the Mizzou program under a veil of good hair and better suits. But as we suspected all along, this was a classic case of a wolf in sheep's clothing. When the NCAA finished poking around, its investigators uncovered 41 violations (Mizzou earlier had self-reported 16 others), including an alleged payment to a former player. Like your average neighborhood deli getting written up by the Department of Health, Missouri's violations were mostly slap-on-the-wrist stuff. But they're enough to make you question your allegiance. When it came time to assign blame, two assistants were sent packing, but the pretty-boy face of Coach Q has remained relatively unblemished. (He's on university probation for two years.)
5. ST. JOHN'S
As with investments, St. John's past performance cannot guarantee future results. It's hard to believe that the fifth-winningest program in Division I history has descended into a mess of sex, lies and embarrassing videotape, which led to the dismissal of one player and the suspension of four others after their involvement in a sexual encounter with a woman they had met in a Pittsburgh strip joint. The woman ended up in more trouble with police than did the athletes -- her extortion demands were recorded by a player's cameraphone -- but in our eyes it sure makes the Red Storm hard to root, root, root for. And even before the recent scandal, the Johnnies' modest success was deplorable considering New York City's considerable high school talent base.
T-shirts emblazoned with f--- duke and a "F--- you, J.J." chant directed at Duke sharpshooter J.J. Redick. Injecting one of George Carlin's seven dirty words into Gary Glitter's "Hey" song, forcing the school administration to ban the anthem at games. That's the best Maryland students can come up with? Last March coach Gary Williams recorded a message that was played on the Jumbotron asking students to bite their tongues when it came to dirty ditties. Given their language littered with sailor lingo, it's hard to disagree when the Dookies counter: "You'll be working for us someday."
While Lovable Lute and the Perennial Chokers might be an extreme moniker for Coach Olson and his band of Downy-soft players, there's no denying that come March, 'Zona has been short on encore performances. Despite reaching the 20-win plateau for 17 straight seasons and winning the national title in '97, at bracket-filling time the Wildcats always seem to be the consensus pick for an early exit. Last year's uninspired first-round loss to Seton Hall didn't help dispel the notion. In the Cats' defense, assistant coach Jim Rosborough admitted, "It's no secret we had some kind of knuckleheads last year."
What's that dark cloud hanging over the basketball program in sunny L.A.? Oh, it's coach Henry Bibby, the Dr. Evil look-alike who needs a hug. His son, Sacramento Kings guard and Mini-Me clone Mike Bibby, chose rival Arizona over the chance to play for Pop in 1996. Even guys who do attend USC sometimes regret it. Just last season Bibby suspended several players for a variety of reasons (including a ringing cellphone during a meeting and being two minutes late to a team breakfast); shuttled players in and out of his starting lineup; took away junior Derrick Craven's captaincy; drove freshman Quinton Day to transfer; and imposed a monthlong gag order on freshman twins Lodrick and Rodrick Stewart. "Bibby is a control freak. He's got a chip on his shoulder," Ralph Bluthenthal, father of former Trojans forward David, told the Los Angeles Times earlier this year. "It's not discipline, it's meanness." That's USC basketball in a nutshell.
A look at Gainesville's seven deadly sins. Pride: Cocksure Coach Donovan has the swagger to be sheriff of these gunslingers, but we've seen nothing that proves Billy the Kid has the substance. Gluttony: The Florida boys know how to chuck up three-pointers (21 attempts per game last season), but as with a good meal, a little bit of balance would help. Lust: Junior Matt Walsh dated a Playboy Playmate last season. (O.K., I confess, I'm just guilty of ... envy.) Then there's greed: Christian Drejer found a million reasons to abandon a sinking ship last Feb. 18, signing with a pro team in Barcelona two days after Florida fell out of the Top 25 (the Gators were No. 1 two months earlier). Sloth: The knock on the Gators come tourney time is their softness. Anger is what fans will feel if the Gators submit another mediocre season.
10. JIM HARRICK'S NEXT SCHOOL
Scandal seems to follow Jim Harrick around like his meddlesome, nepportunistic son. And no matter how many black eyes he leaves behind, there's always another major program willing to take a flier on a coach with a national championship on his résumé. At this point Harrick's resiliency is bordering on comical; he's like the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail who keeps getting limbs lopped off but just won't die. Fired from UCLA for falsifying an expense report. ("'Tis but a scratch.") Academic fraud, overzealous boosters and a lawsuit charging sexual harassment against Harrick, settled out of court, at Rhode Island. ("Just a flesh wound.") Resigned from Georgia in 2003 after his players were given preferential academic treatment in a class taught by his son and assistant coach, Jim Harrick Jr. ("I'm invincible!") We don't know where Jimbo will land, but no matter where it is, we'll be rooting against him.
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Issue date: November 11, 2004