A LEGO statue of Jim Calhoun, courtesy of @AntMardurnerner. And I thought we were crazy
As expected, Jim Calhoun announced his retirement this morning, bringing his 26-year career as UConn’s head coach to a close. Most reporters are praising Calhoun for building the UConn program, winning three national titles, and helping stars such as Kemba Walker and Emeka Okafor reach the NBA, all things that are true and deserving of credit, but you have to consider the current state of the UConn program when examining his legacy. UConn is currently on probation for dirty recruiting and can’t play in the 2013 NCAA Tournament due to low APR scores. The program, a year and a half off a National Title, may be at it’s lowest point during the Calhoun era, which makes it the perfect time to leave, right Jim?
Calhoun is already a Hall-of-Famer. He’s won 873 games, which puts him at sixth on the all-time list behind Mike Krzyzewski, Bob Knight, Jim Boeheim, Dean Smith and Adolph Rupp. He made basketball relevant in New England. He’s the grumpy old man of college basketball, whose brash and stubborn nature became as notorious as his win-loss record. Remember the time he chewed out a reporter in a post-game presser? Fun stuff.
With seventy years, three national titles, and a myriad of health problems under his belt (including a broken hip from a bike accident this summer), you have to wonder why Calhoun didn’t retire when the Huskies were at the top. Instead, he leaves the program with more problems than it’s ever had, with Kevin Ollie alone to clean up the mess. UConn will be terrible next year. They’re rebuilding, not reloading. Don’t think for a second that Calhoun didn’t see that coming, and got out while he still could.
Calhoun’s followers call him an icon, a legend in the sport. They erect incredibly impressive LEGO statues in his honor. They say he made the UConn program what it is today. Well, yes he did. He made UConn a giant in college basketball, puffed up by titles and NBA players, that is now flailing at the ropes to pull itself off the mat.