In what can only be categorized as a vain attempt to ruin the ACC's positive headlines, Jim Calhoun will announce his retirement from basketball later today. Calhoun has been battling health issues the past few seasons and missed and extended period of time last season while battling illness. His recent tumble from a bike seemed to be the final straw.
But with the season starting next month, what will happen to the Huskies?
Assistant Kevin Ollie will be the head coach of UConn for Pitt's last year with the Huskies on the schedule. With the possibility of luring a big-time coach (see Smart, Shaka), UConn is nevertheless stuck with Ollie for at least one year:
Of course, Ollie is likely only getting the chance to replace Calhoun because the legendary coach wants it that way.
Calhoun has stated many times he believes Ollie should succeed him, but it's no secret first-year athletic director Warde Manuel was too wary of Ollie's lack of head coaching experience to name him coach-in-waiting. Well, by dragging out his retirement until mid-to-late September, Calhoun has left Manuel with little choice but to hand the reins to someone within the program on an interim basis -- and Ollie is clearly the most obvious candidate.
That seems like such a Calhoun move. On one hand, it's a pretty loyal thing to do for an assistant, who seemingly otherwise would lose his job minutes after Calhoun called it quits. On the other, UConn has paid Calhoun handsomely for a long, long time and he's intentionally setting them up to hire someone they clearly don't want to.
And it's not like he's handing Ollie the reigns of a program on the rise. There's still that whole business of being banned from the 2013 NCAA Tournament:
The UConn basketball program is still on probation because the school was caught -- first by Yahoo! Sports, then by the NCAA -- using a booster turned agent to buy a recruit. Say what you want about John Calipari, Scott Drew or any of the other coaches who turned up on our list of perceived cheaters last month, but none of them have ever been caught leading a program that worked with a booster/agent to secure a commitment from a prospect neck-deep in extra benefits. Calhoun, on the other hand, was caught leading a program that did exactly that, and the Huskies remain on probation because of it. So that's a stain.
Also a stain: UConn can't play in this season's NCAA tournament because of its terrible APR score that's a result of subpar academics. Also a stain: Calhoun is considered by most to be the primary reason Jeff Hathaway was run out of Connecticut a year ago, meaning the basketball coach basically fired his athletic director 13 months before his exit. Also a stain: The timing of this decision essentially forced UConn to promote an unproven assistant to the position of head coach at a time when the roster is depleted and the team is setup to lose a bunch of games, which is almost certainly why Calhoun is walking away in the first place. You really think he'd be retiring if UConn was eligible for the NCAA tournament and in possession of enough talent to advance in the bracket? Please.
That's all part of Calhoun's legacy, too.
Calhoun was always respectful of Dixon - respect that runs both ways:
"I've always looked at Jamie as a good coach," Calhoun was saying over the telephone yesterday from Storrs, Conn. "Other people finally are starting to see that and talk about it. He's one of the best coaches in our league. The identity of Pitt basketball is him. It's no longer Ben [Howland]. Jamie is the star of that program."
"I used to say Jamie was a good young coach. Now, I just say he's a good coach."
In memory of Calhoun, here's him completely losing his cool at some schmuck who was allowed to ask a question at a press conference:
And while not Calhoun directly, here's a video of Sam Young owning UConn. You know, just for fun. (Sorry about the ad).
Head on over The UConn Blog today and pay some damn respect. Or troll. Either is fine.