After years of speculation it appears that Connecticut‘s legendary head coach Jim Calhoun will finally retire. A local NBC affiliate in Connecticut was the first to report the news that Calhoun’s retirement was “imminent”. Calhoun, who turned 70 in May, has made a name for himself building up a Connecticut program that was not even on the map when he took over in 1986 to one of the premier programs in the country during his 26 seasons there. Calhoun’s credentials at Connecticut are nothing short of spectacular: three NCAA titles, seven Big East Tournaments titles, and nine Big East regular season titles to go along with several NBA stars. While Calhoun won big on the court he also went through his own trials and tribulations off it often battling the media (“not a dime back”) and dealing with a variety of medical issues. [Ed Note: For what it’s worth, in our limited interactions with Calhoun he always was courteous with us.]
With the upcoming season essentially being a lost one for a program of Connecticut’s caliber (banned from the NCAA Tournament due to their low APR score) speculation was rampant that Calhoun would call it a career, but he remained committed (or indecisive depending on your point of view) to the program. However, his latest setback, a fall off his bike leading to a prolonged rehabilitation program, may have finally led Calhoun to step down. Now the next question is who will replace Calhoun. The most obvious choice would be Kevin Ollie at least on an interim basis although George Blaney is the one who has always served as the fill-in for Calhoun during his multiple absences over the years. Whether Ollie is able to shed the interim label will likely depend on the performance of this year Connecticut team. If they fail to live up to even the admittedly lowered expectations we could have one of the more interesting coaching searches in years to fill a spot at a marquee program that had essentially been created by the man leaving it.