Thursday. All three girls in school. Which means I can sit down, scan the headlines, and pick out something to write about.
Jim Calhoun retires from UConn
I’ll throw this out: no coach has had as much success as Calhoun with as little respect. Seriously, when was the last time someone drew up a Best Coach in the Game list and he was in the Top 5? He has three titles, for crying out loud! You would think he’s always on the short list, rather than the extended list, for that discussion.
Why? I have a few ideas.
First, there’s a natural reluctance to admit new members to the elite of any sport. Even if you continue your success over a period of time, if you built a program from nothing, it seems like people are reluctant to give full credit. “Sure, UConn’s been great over the last 20 years, but what did they do before that?” seems to be the argument.
Second, I think a lot of outsiders think it’s easy to get talent in a place like UConn. Doesn’t matter that they were never good before Calhoun arrived. He’s on the East Coast. He can jump in his car and visit Boston and NYC. Take quick trips to Baltimore, Philly, and DC. And so on.
Finally, I think there’s always been a strong suspicion that the program is dirty. Sure, they’ve had some serious NCAA issues in recent years. But the whispers have always been that UConn did things to get players other programs did not do. That’s not just chatter by casual fans. I’ve heard the same come from people who are “insiders”, to one extent or another, at several other D1 programs.
Those are just off-the-cuff ideas. I don’t think it helps his cause that he’s kind of a dick and has that thick Boston accent.
All I know is UConn has been in the mix for the Final Four almost annually since 1990, when Laettner shot them down. Three titles, four Final Fours, nine Elite Eights. They’ve produced some fantastic players over that span, too.
He may not be in the top five for best ever college coach. But in his prime, Jim Calhoun was as good as any coach in the post-Wooden era.