Thursday, September 13, 2012

Jim Calhoun to Retire

With the rumors that Jim Calhoun will announce his retirement today, UConn Nation is coming to grips with what they knew was going to eventually happen.  Their coach, the one they had seen their entire life, is moving on.  It leaves fans with a swirl of different emotions from total admiration and appreciation, to a deep sense of unknown, to a feeling of abandonment.

Jim Calhoun is the face of UConn basketball. He built UConn’s fledging program into the powerhouse that it is today and no APR sanctions will tarnish that. The most impressive thing was in the way that he built it.  He found under the radar players and molded them into super stars.  His eye for talent is unlike any of his peers.  He never landed the five star, top ten recruits, until Andre Drummond.  He found a Rip Hamilton, Khalid El-Amin, Emeka Okafor, and Kemba Walker and made them into Champions.  His style of coaching often rubbed players, media, and fans the wrong way, but his Northeastern, straight forward, refusal to lose attitude rubbed off on his players and his teams thrived in the underdog role, creating an almost working class type of team that was easy to root for.

While Calhoun’s statue isn’t built yet, it already casts a large shadow and whoever fills that role, which is more than likely Kevin Ollie, will need to sustain a program that is in a downswing.  UConn fans haven’t been in this situation before, besides the departure of Randy Edsall.  That security blanket of “Trust In Calhoun” is now gone.  Kevin Ollie has all the attributes that would make a great coach, from the admiration of recruits, knowledge of the game, to a great role model off the court, but he has never coached at this level before.  This is all new territory for this program and the program could go the way of so many storied teams that never could regain that luster after their legend of a coach leaves.

This announcement was inevitable but it is the timing of it that leaves one with a sour taste.  This program which Calhoun had built up from nothing is facing its toughest test.  They have scholarship restrictions, they are banned from both the Big East and the NCAA tournaments, and they had a major exodus of players from their roster.  And it is in these dark days that Calhoun is going to announce his retirement?  It is un-Calhoun like.  He is a fighter, one that refuses to lose, and a person who relishes the underdog role and here he is, when his team needs that stability the most, that he announces that he doesn’t want to coach anymore.

While he doesn’t owe anyone anything.  He deserves to go out on his term, but it feels like he is ending his story too early or maybe he should have retired after his latest championship, but there are no fairy tale endings in life. He still loves the game and most assuredly will have his hand on this program in one way or another.  With that all being said, we all must stand up and give this man a giant round of applause for what he was able to accomplish, the joy he gave this community, and the lives he has changed on and off the court, because these transcendent men only come across once in several lifetimes and to have witnessed it is something we will all treasure.  Thank you.

No comments: