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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WV News) — Bob Huggins knows his career is closer to its end than its beginning.

He knows, too, that it's been an interesting ride, even a fun ride for a man who splits his on-court time coaching West Virginia basketball between snarls and smiles.

But every so often there are reminders that life is simply a march through changing times, and one of those reminders comes to the Coliseum on Saturday in the form of a former player from Huggins' his first year at WVU, Darris Nichols, who will coach the Radford Highlanders against his old boss.

One nearing the end, the other starting out. And so it seemed fair to ask Huggins if he would want to be in Nichols' situation right now, beginning his coaching career rather than ending it?

"No," Huggins answered without even stopping to think about.

It isn't that Huggins hasn't changed with the times, because he has, but the changes have taken away what made being involved in college basketball what it was at its best.

"Relationships," Huggins said when asked why he wouldn't want to be starting over. "It's hard. If you can't go out and meet people during recruiting periods and such ... I mean, we have so many people making decisions for us that don't know a damn thing about what we do.

"They don't know about the culture, they don't anything about how those of us who have gotten to where we are got there. They have no clue. I could sit here and name you 20 guys who we kind of grew up together, from being assistants to being maybe a higher paid assistant to being a coach at a smaller school to moving on.

"We were all doing the same thing. We were all together all summer. I know all them guys, but I don't know the new guys ... and probably never will if it continues to go the way it's going with this virtual stuff."

"You used to have a couple of months to recruit. You saw everybody. For instance, you'd go to Vegas four or five days. Then you'd got to Georgia for three days ... and when I say days I'm talking you're there early in the morning until late at night."

And when they were there, they would gather in groups and watch the AAU games.

Yeah, they'd talk about the prospects they were looking at, some they weren't looking at. They'd talk about ones they'd seen that were good and got better and some that were great but lost their way.

It would start with basketball talk, but before long, as with any group, the conversations would stray to other matters, adventures they'd had over the years.

And when they left the gym, the conversations often would carry on over adult beverages far into the night, especially in Vegas, where nothing ever closed, not even their eyes.

"You developed relationships with people," Huggins said.

Think about Dick Vitale and Jimmy Valvano there, about Huggins and John Calipari or Andy Kennedy or whomever made up his wolfpack for the night.

This was life in sports at the time.

No more, and Huggins misses it, as do most of the brotherhood.

The difference?

"Everything is virtual now," Huggins noted. "It's hard to get to know somebody online. I mean, you could walk into the Peach Jam, and the whole one side and the underneath on the other side was full of coaches."

The veteran coaches, of course, ruled the roost, having earned the right by years of success.

New coaches would come out to scout and be intimidated.

"You're a kid and you go in there, and you don't know where to sit. You don't want to take Dean Smith's chair," Huggins said. "It's totally different."

That isn't only true in the world of sports. Certainly, every office workplace has changed, every businessman's business trips.

The computerization of the world started the change, and the Covid-19 pandemic over the past couple of years has magnified the effect.

Travel has been curtailed by the virus and by cuts in staffing and financing, no matter the business, and that includes sports.

Everything has become more of a profession than an avocation. What once was a fun business has become anything but, the personality being taken out of the person.

The characters that sports have created both on the playing fields or on the sidelines are as extinct as dinosaurs, detracting a cultural value from the games we watch and play and the society we live in.