FORT WORTH, Texas - Bob Huggins remembers it almost like it was yesterday, the first game in which he was ever involved as a college basketball head coach.
It was the start of the 1980-81 season and Huggins was the just-turned 27-year-old coach at Walsh College in Ohio.
"It was against Oberlin, I'm pretty sure,'' Huggins correctly recalled on Friday. "Ed Janka was the coach at Oberlin. He's now Nike's director of [basketball camps and clinics] and still a very dear friend of mine.''
What Huggins recalls quite clearly, of course, is the result. He remembers almost all the results, win or lose. On that night, his debut was smashing. His Walsh team pummeled Oberlin, winning 91-59, on the road no less. That Oberlin finished 1-25 that season didn't much matter.
"I thought about retiring after that one,'' he said. "I was 1-0. I could have retired undefeated.''
He didn't, of course. And it was no time at all before his unblemished mark was ruined. He would lose his home opener a few days later by a point to Davis & Elkins. His team would finish 14-16, but two years later was 34-1.
More than three decades and four head coaching jobs later, Huggins will coach his 1,000th game today. His West Virginia team (11-11, 4-5 Big 12) faces TCU (10-12, 1-8) in a 4 p.m. game at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum that will be televised by the Big 12 network (locally on WQCW).
It is a milestone that rather crept up on Huggins, who is 720-279 in his 31st season as a head coach at Walsh, Akron, Cincinnati, Kansas State and West Virginia, one that he jokingly said made him feel older than his 59 years.
"Actually, I was feeling better,'' he cracked. "Then I found that out and my hips started to hurt and I started aching again.''
Chances are good that today's game with TCU will not go down as a particularly memorable one for Huggins aside from the milestone aspect. In a career that includes 25 20-win seasons and only two in which his teams finished under .500 (his first at Walsh and then his first at Akron), this is a game between a WVU team struggling to get back over .500 and a TCU squad that until a rather unfathomable upset of No. 5 Kansas on Wednesday seemed headed for a potential 0-fer in its first year of Big 12 play.
"I thought they played hard and ran good offense. I never thought they'd go winless,' Huggins said of the Horned Frogs, who lost 71-50 in Morgantown just over two weeks ago. "But no, [beating Kansas] probably wouldn't have been my first pick [for TCU's initial win].''