Say what you want about former Connecticut Huskies head coach Jim Calhoun. Brash, abrasive, successful, and maybe even a little dirty. But he’s leaving UConn just how he got it…in shambles. Never has a coach been so underrated but at the same time so lowly thought of by his peers. Calhoun has done it all. 3 National Titles, beating cancer numerous times, berated reporters, and put Connecticut in the hole upon his departure.
Calhoun started his coaching career at the lowest of levels, his first gig was at Lyme-Old Lyme High School in Old Lyme, Connecticut. What is even more odd, he was hired at the school to be a sixth grade teacher. Considering that UConn is currently on probation for academic reasons, it’s pretty ironic that at one point he was going to be molding the minds of Old Lyme, Connecticut youth.
After a stint at Northeastern, Calhoun took over a worthless Huskies program in 1986. Amassing 618 wins for UConn and 873 overall. Calhoun took Connecticut, recruited the smithereens out of the Northeast, and made them relevant. Now, just a New York minute before the college hoops season is set to start, Calhoun retires on his own terms. Giving UConn no time to hire a coach of their choosing, but getting “stuck” with Kevin Ollie, a Calhoun guy. Don’t think that was by accident either.
The University of Connecticut probably has the worst talent ready to suit-up for them since Calhoun took over. Leaving Ollie with a roster full of sub-par(by UConn standards) players. Not that they were going to able to recruit any top-tier talent coming into this season anyway. Thanks to Calhoun’s ability to care more about player’s worth ethic on the court, than in the classroom, UConn is banned from postseason play.
Obviously Calhoun has done plenty of swell things for Conneticut. Here is certainly one of the best college basketball coaches to ever wear a suit. Three National Titles with three totally different teams isn’t something to overlook. His ability to get big time recruits to play in Storrs, CT. is a feat upon itself. But keeping all things in perspective, Calhoun is hated by his peers for a reason. And no, not all of it is because of jealousy.
The Huskies were stripped of their victories in the 1996 NCAA Tournament, after NCAA officials determined that players Kirk King and Ricky Moore accepted improper benefits. In 2011, the NCAA hit Calhoun with a 3 game suspension because of his lack of control in his own program, after a recruit, Nate Miles, had improper contact with a booster. Calhoun, ever the wordsmith, ”I am very disappointed with the NCAA’s decision in this case,” Calhoun said. “My lawyer and I are evaluating my options and will make a decision which way to proceed. In the meantime, I will not make any further statements about the case as our program prepares for what I hope will be an exciting and successful postseason.”
Calhoun at the time knew his school was already in danger of not meeting academic requirements to stay postseason eligible. Yet he still decided to be brash and not take the punishment in stride. Instead of admitting he should have more control over the situation, as usual, it was everybody’s fault but his own.
James A. Calhoun is leaving UConn with his school failing to meet the lowest requirements for the NCAA regulated APR scores, not a single lottery pick on his roster, and indirectly forcing the Huskies to hire Ollie as their head coach.
I don’t know how much Calhoun has learned as an adult. But we do know his mom must have taught him something as a child. Leave things the same way you got them. Sadly for UConn…it’s in shambles.