chuck machock from ucincy.jpg

Chuck Machock

Chuck Machock died last week at the age of 82. That name might not ring many bells in the Mountain State, but it should.

Machock played a pivotal role in getting Bob Huggins on West Virginia’s campus as a player before serving as a colleague and friend during the now veteran West Virginia men’s basketball coach’s career.

When Huggins was on the road recruiting and could fit it in, he visited Machock — usually for a meal. He recently had the opportunity to see his longtime friend for the final time, and of course Huggins had a good story.

“Chuck’s always got the best place [to eat],” Huggins said. “Even if he hadn’t been there before. That was his thing. He was always going to be the guy that had the best place to eat in whatever town. Even though sometimes he didn’t have a clue.”

Machock was a basketball lifer who, as a West Virginia assistant in the 1970s, recruited Huggins when he was looking for a place to land as a transfer from Ohio University. Huggins chose WVU, but before he could play a game with the Mountaineers, Machock was off for another job at Ball State.

It was far from the last time their paths would cross.

“[Machock] has been almost a father to me,” Huggins said. “I’ve got a great father — but from a basketball standpoint, from a professional standpoint — he’s been my guy. He’s been the guy I ask for advice. He’s been the guy I go to when I need some help figuring some things out. We’ve been very, very close.”

Huggins was asked about his relationship with Machock following West Virginia’s Monday win at Oklahoma State, and the WVU coach began to retell how Machock not only got him to Morgantown, but shaped his coaching career.

When Huggins was hired as a graduate assistant at Ohio State in 1978, he believes Machock helped play a large part in him landing in Columbus. Huggins got his start as a head coach at NAIA Walsh College, but after three years Machock found him a job as an assistant at Central Florida — a program in the process of making the jump from Division II to Division I at the time.

“Chuck’s the only person in the world who could have talked me into going to Central Florida at that time,” Huggins said. “I’m thinking I’m stepping back from being a head coach to being an assistant at a D-II school. I did it for a year and it turned out great. I got the Akron job.”

Huggins took over at Cincinnati in 1989 and brought Machock onto his staff soon after. A former player for the Bearcats, Machock was a key piece to the puzzle as Huggins helped guide UC to a Final Four.

“He really helped us get to the Final Four,” Huggins said. “He really helped with the bigs. The guys loved Chuck.”

Once Machock retired from coaching, he did not go too far from the Cincinnati bench. His next move was to be a radio anaylst for Bearcat basketball broadcasts and in 2003 during an NCAA tournament game against Gonzaga, Machock and Huggins were forever linked in the public’s eye as both were ejected from the game. Huggins has often shown himself to be extremely loyal when it comes to his “guys” — and it’s not hard to see where he learned that behavior.

“Chuck’s got a great way of being really hard on you, but you love him,” Huggins said. “Everybody who has been around the guy, loves the guy.”

Contact Tom Bragg at tom.bragg@wvgazettemail.com or 304-348-4871. Follow him on Twitter @TomBraggSports. Read Tom’s WVU sports blog at http://blogs.wvgazettemail.com/wvu/