Bob Huggins — Gonzaga in for ‘awakening’ if it joins Big 12

West Virginia coach Bob Huggins isn’t convinced Gonzaga, a powerhouse of recent years, will continue his success as he moves into the Big 12, one of America’s top leagues in men’s collegiate basketball.

ESPN’s Pete Thamel reported Wednesday that Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark and Gonzaga athletic director Chris Standiford recently met in Texas to discuss the possibility that would make the Big 12 a league rivaled by any other in men’s basketball would compete and probably surpass them.

“I think it would be a tremendous awakening for Gonzaga [to join the Big 12]’ Huggins told reporters on Thursday.

Sources also told Thamel that both the Pac-12 and the Big East have also become “engaged” with Gonzaga, but the extent of those talks is unknown.

During his run as a standout in men’s college basketball over the past 20 years, Gonzaga has been insulted by Power 5 coaches who openly questioned whether the program could duplicate that success in a major conference. Beginning with the 1999-2000 season, coach Mark Few failed to win the West Coast Conference regular-season title — or at least part of it — just twice (2000, ’12), but the program did not win a National Championship.

However, Gonzaga’s supporters retaliate with his consistency, recent NCAA tournament track record and number of NBA draft picks that has sent him to the next level. Gonzaga has played in two of their last five national championship games. And since 2014, the program has not missed the second weekend of the NCAA tournament.

The school has also produced 11 first-round NBA draft picks under few.

West Virginia has produced a first-round pick in the draft since 1968. But the Big 12 has been one of America’s best leagues for the past decade, and two of its members, Baylor and Kansas, have won the last two national championships. Houston’s arrival in 2023 will only add to the league’s talent pool.

This gauntlet — teams in the Big 12 currently play every other team in the league twice during the conference schedule — is one of college basketball’s toughest slates.

“Getting into this league and playing us day in and day out would be a tremendous awakening,” Huggins said of Gonzaga. “You can’t make your own schedule with the Big 12.” Bob Huggins — Gonzaga in for ‘awakening’ if it joins Big 12

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