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End to Huggins era draws national response from columnists

The University of Cincinnati's 16-year head basketball coach Bob Huggins resigned in August 2005. After refusing to work under his existing contract, Huggins accepted a buyout. National writers responded, pouring out their opinions as well as barrels of ink to discuss the situation. Here is a snapshot of what they said:

"It would be difficult to replace Huggins under the best of circumstances. The timing of his dismissal makes that endeavor even harder. Throw in the added challenge of joining the Big East this season -- which would not have happened had Huggins not won so many games for so long -- and it's easy to see why Cincinnati basketball could be headed for some truly hard times."

-- Seth Davis, Sports Illustrated

"In a world where presidents and athletic directors timorously hand over contract extensions and raises every time a coach clears his throat and utters the magic words -- 'If I don't get it, it will hurt us in recruiting' -- this was a strong stand. A stand that said the school administration is in charge of the athletic fiefdom."

-- Pat Forde, ESPN.com

"American life has changed, and college basketball has changed with it. Players come with baggage. Coaches try to unpack the dirty drawers and replace them with clean, bleached briefs. Sometimes it works. It has worked more often than not at Cincinnati under Huggins.

"Zimpher's ambition and righteousness are impressive, but let's make no mistake about this one point: Bob Huggins isn't gone because he failed to live up to the standards of college basketball. Huggins is gone because he met those standards."

-- Gregg Doyel, CBS Sportsline

"Zimpher has this crazy idea the face of the university nationally shouldn't be a basketball coach of a program as famous for its indiscretions as its NCAA success.

"But so many school presidents preach academic standing and then fire coaches when they don't win enough. At least she fired Huggins for reasons that fit her idea of a university mission."

-- Bud Shaw, Cleveland Plain Dealer

"The school has a terrible identity out there, and the fans just yawn. Just win, baby. The UC administration decided it wanted to do something about that image and identity before it put itself in front of major media markets of the Big East."

-- Ray Glier, NBCSports.com

"Nancy Zimpher has shown herself to be one of the most principled educators in the land. She has been on the job less than two years, and her most public act is to jettison the face of the university who led the Bearcats to a 25-8 record last season before entering the highly competitive den of the Big East Conference this season.

"The big-time college basketball culture is usually permitted to be far removed from the academic culture. All too many educators are content to hold their noses around it, if the victories are plentiful and boosters are dumping money into the university coffers."

-- Tom Knott, The Washington Times

"What a better place major college athletics would be if more campus leaders had Zimpher's fortitude and nerve.

"At a time when college presidents do everything for their multimillionaire coaches but fill the Gatorade cups and man the tackling dummies, Zimpher checked Huggins out of the game."

-- Ian O'Connor, FOXSports.com