Bob Huggins' casual sideline wardrobe is part Donnie Brasco, part golf pro and 100 percent Bob Huggins.
The West Virginia coach spurns the designer suits and ties favored by most big-time college basketball coaches in favor of a black windbreaker worn with black pants and black shoes. It's been his style for nearly 20 years and one that only the gruff man they call Huggy Bear could pull off. Seeing the coach in a tie would be as peculiar as seeing the Pope in jeans. (Sometimes he'll break out a suit for a special occasion, but never a tie. Never.)
Huggins shared the story of the sweatsuit's orgins before Saturday's regional final:
"I started wearing the one I wore at Cincinnati because I had a suit on and I'd sweat through the suit. I was soaking wet and I took the suit off and put it on for the second half and my athletic director said, 'I don' t know who ever told coaches to wear suits. You look great like that.'
"So I wore that at Cincinnati until we got a new president [Nancy Zimpher], who didn't think I was supposed to wear that."
Though the idea of a man wearing a suit to coach a game played by sweaty kids in tank tops and sneakers is a bit ridiculous when you think about it, when someone breaks from the norm it's quite conspicuous. It's like when Bobby Knight appears on an ESPN panel that includes four guys in $1,500 suits and him in a windbreaker that looks like it came free with his Sports Illustrated subscription.
Of course, Knight himself was famously anti-suit during his later coaching days. He pulled off his red or black sweaters nicely, but not as well as former St. John's coach Lou Carnesecca. That man wore a multi-colored knit better than anyone this side of Bill Cosby.
As for Huggins, he has no plans to change. It's for the best. Look what happened the last time he tried to wear a suit. The windbreaker will do, thanks.