- There were obviously two huge stories yesterday and we could lead with either one, but for us the imminent retirement of Jim Calhoun is the top story. Over the next few days you will see an endless stream of stories recounting Calhoun’s spectacular work turning a program that was essentially nothing into one of the top programs in the country. You will also see a number of anecdotes from media members about some of their memorable interactions with Calhoun. For now we will just focus on the near-term future for the Huskies, who will apparently name Kevin Ollie as their interim coach. Ollie certainly has his work cut out for him taking over a team that was expected to struggle next season even with a legend like Calhoun at the helm. We hope that the school grades Ollie on a curve here because otherwise his position will probably last only one season before the school looks elsewhere. If that does happen, it will certainly test the rankings we released last year for the most desirable coaching spots in the country. Will the brand appeal of Connecticut be enough to overcome the location and the current condition of the program for potential coaches?
- We are guessing that most sites will go with Notre Dame moving to the ACC in all sports except for football with the expected moved happening in 2014 at the earliest. While this is certainly another significant loss for the Big East it doesn’t come close to the significance of losing Pittsburgh and Syracuse especially since the real prize of Notre Dame’s athletic program is its football program, which isn’t exactly a revelation to anybody. The ACC was able to get Notre Dame to play a certain number of football games (five) against other schools within the conference, but Notre Dame was still able to keep its
ludicrouslucrative contract and BCS privileges. Having said that, the Irish do bring a solid if unspectacular basketball program to the conference that will add more depth and strengthen its claim as the best in the country again [Ed Note: Many ACC fans would have you believe that they always were the best conference in the country.] For us, the more interesting facet of the story is that Notre Dame becomes the 15th basketball team in the conference, which as you may notice is an odd number. The ACC has insisted that there are no plans to expand to 16 teams, but it seems more than a little naive to think they won’t be looking out for another school to add to reach an even number. More on this later today.
- After a disappointing year in 2011-12 (and any Brad Stevens team that doesn’t make the Final Four is by definition, disappointing), Butler was looking to rebound with a strong 2012-13 season, but those hopes were dealt a significant blow when the school announced that Chrishawn Hopkins had been dismissed from the basketball team. Hopkins was one of four returning starters on a team that is also adding Arkansas sharpshooter Rotnei Clarke and was expected to be a tough out in next year’s NCAA Tournament. Fortunately for the Bulldogs they have some depth on the perimeter, but anytime you lead the #3 scorer from the previous year it has to hurt at some level. We are still not aware of which team rule Hopkins broke, but the fall term at Butler just started on August 22 so whatever he did was probably not related to grades.
- Another player who will not be seen on campus any time soon is Maurice Jones, who announced yesterday that he was transferring from USC after having been ruled academically ineligible. Jones, who was supposed to be the leading returning scorer for the Trojans, will certainly draw some interest despite his 5’7″ frame, but it will most likely be in the form of mid-majors where a smaller guard could be even more successful. Assuming Jones is able to get his academics in order he could be an excellent addition for a top mid-major and can give his new school two more years of eligibility. A potential destination somewhere in Michigan would not be out of the question given that is where Jones hails from, but with his skill set he should be able to look broadly.
- While the NCAA continues to fall behind on investigations into the wrongdoing of schools and their administrators it continues to excel at chasing after teenagers with questions regarding their eligibility. Two highly touted incoming freshmen — Sam Cassell, Jr., and Myles Davis — have been ruled ineligible by the NCAA as the result of classes they took at Notre Dame Prep, the same school that produced Michael Beasley, Lazar Hayward, and Ryan Gomes, among others. As Jeff Goodman points out, there are eight other individuals currently cleared by the NCAA to play who took those same classes. The entire situation appears to revolve around classes they took last academic year that at least Davis’ family claims were cleared by the NCAA until it was too late to change and maintain their eligibility. While this case will probably start out of the mainstream media for the most part it will be interesting to follow to see if the NCAA backs down or if the eligibility of the other students in those classes is questioned.