Jim Calhoun: ‘I’m Very Close To Knowing:’ [Sports Illustrated]

by Categorized: Jim Calhoun, Kevin Ollie, UConn men's basketball

As we know, Jim Calhoun is not yet ready to commit himself. Will he coach the Huskies this coming season? Or will he decide this is the time to call it a career.

That this is still a question at this late date is revealing. If he were certain of continuing, he would have said so. In March, after the Huskies lost to Iowa State, he talked of an announcement coming in the next few weeks. When I spoke to him in April, I was certain he was returning. A month later, we had a long sit-down interview just before he turned 70, and I came away less certain.

During the summer, he talked of making a decision in September. Then he fractured his hip. On Tuesday, Calhoun told me he was “going day by day.” My perception is that he still enjoys coaching and is honestly not sure what he wants to do. He is now getting to the office, on crutches, nearly every day – hardly a sign of someone ready to check out. Yet many at UConn who were once sure Calhoun was coming back are also less certain right now.

And it’s getting late. The first practice is about five weeks away and things are coming to a head. To Mark Blaudschun, former Globe reporter and a long-time Calhoun observer who has his own blog and also wrote a piece for Sports Illustrated (click here), Calhoun is saying something could be decided in the next two weeks.

For SI, Calhoun said:

       “Depends on how I feel sometimes, but I’m very close to knowing. I’m just

         going to wake up one morning and I will know what is the right thing to do.”


It’s no secret that Calhoun wants assistant Kevin Ollie to succeed him, and it’s no secret that AD Warde Manuel wants to keep his options open, rather than commit to a designated successor. One school of  thought, out there all summer, is that Calhoun will retire at  the last possible moment so that UConn has to hire Ollie. In that event, if he has an interim tag for this season, it would be Ollie’s job to lose. If the Huskies, with moderate expectations, overachieve in 2012-13, it would be hard to deny Ollie a long-term contract. My feeling: Ollie, 39, deserves the chance anyway, especially since so many recruits have noted that they were comfortable committing to play for him, if not Calhoun.

Calhoun is determined, he has said over and over, to be part of the UConn program “with or without a whistle,” and for this to be possible, he must leave on good terms. And with all Calhoun  has done for the program and its place in the state’s culture, it would really be a shame if he were to leave on anything but good terms. We are in interesting times. It’s an historic moment for UConn basketball.

The Courant is using Facebook comments on stories. To comment on courant.com articles, sign into Facebook and enter your comment in the field below. Comments will appear in your Facebook News Feed unless you choose otherwise. To report spam or abuse, click the X next to the comment. For guidelines on commenting, click here.

50 thoughts on “Jim Calhoun: ‘I’m Very Close To Knowing:’ [Sports Illustrated]

  1. Steve-o

    Please Jim, for the good of the program and all it’s fans….LEAVE NOW. It’s time. Your overpaid, broke down and hardly ever there. “not a dime” more please.

    1. Midtown Pete

      Ya Steve-o you tell him, Hey Jim we don’t need anymore stinkin’ championships, hit the road.

    2. Mark

      I don’t understand people like Steve-o who don’t have a clue. Since Coach Calhoun took over the reins in 1986, do you know how many schools won multiple championships? Not many, but UConn is one of the few. Duke=4, UConn=3, Kentucky=3, North Carolina=3, Florida=2, and Kansas=2. Stop. Think about that for a few. As far as I’m concerned, he can coach as long as he wants!

  2. JDub81

    If it wasn’t for Jim Calhoun….UConn would still be playing in the Yankee Conference! Take your time Coach.

  3. admiralbrown

    If you still love coaching then stay. If basketball has become just a job then go and find new passions. Coach Calhoun you were there in the best of times, show the new kids that even in the worst of times that you still give 100% and every game matters even if there is no post season. You could teach the players a lot about sportsmanship this season.
    My gut feeling is if you truly don’t know if you want to stay or go then you should go and let Kevin Ollie coach, he’ll be great, he has the work ethic and can handle adversity.
    Regardless thanks for all the years.

  4. ness

    Calhoun has built the men’s basketball program from the ground up. Winning 3 National Championships is a feat in of itself. Besides he is in the HOF so he can do whatever he wants as far as I am concerned. If Calhoun wants to coach again I would not complain, but if he retires than I will congratulate the guy.

  5. wayne

    I keep reading this “forced to name Ollie” stuff. It makes no sense. Manuel would be far more likely to name Blaney, Hobbs, or even Miller. They all have head coaching experience.

  6. p. hofperson

    how nice for him to leave the team hanging while he plays games.
    not everyone agrees with the idea of his wonderfulness. I agree that for the amount of time he has spent coaching in the last few years, he is overpaid.
    Can we give some credit to the players who won the championships please and also the fact that they are not in the Yankee conference. you can have the best coach in the world and it’s the players who win games.

  7. Paul

    Jim Calhoun is the most important figure to Connecticut in the last 100 years. The UCONN namebrand is built on his foundation. He has brought muli-millions in revenue to this state and the university and he compensated a fraction of that. He could have left long ago and this little state school in Storrs, Conn, would NEVER enjoyed the success they have. NEVER. We’d be URI, or at best UMASS, and look what happened to them when Calipari left.

    That said, Ollie is unproven and inexperienced. We need a proven head coach (VCU’s Shaka Smart, or Butler’s Brad Stevens). Calhoun’s coaching tree has nothing but rotten fruit. Plua, someone like Smart or Stevens can demand an upgraded XL center, whereas Ollie will be grateful for the opportunity. Let’s look at long term recruiting (upgraded XL center) and not simply keeping the next 2-3 3-star players committed.

  8. Dave petit

    Well said Paul. Without Jim Calhoun UCONN would be UMass and so saying we need a big time coach. Jim’s desire is what put us on the map. We do not need a Joe Paterno dilemma

  9. GhostOfAntricKlaiber

    Have to agree with Paul that the coaching tree has not produced any quality fruit. Leitao was horrible at Depaul and UVA. Hobbs had a few solid years at GW and then stunk it up. Glenn Miller, bad Ivy results. I thought Dickenman would be great if he had higher aspirations beyond a local low-level D1 school. Jury is still out on Tom Moore, who I think is more qualified than Ollie. Take Nate Miles out of his history and Tom Moore was the most prolific recruiter in UConn history. I would love to give Ollie the chance, but right now he has the same amount of college assistant coaching experience as Scotty Burrell.

  10. Happy camper

    I think the coach is going to call it a career. Ollie will have the job for this year and its his job to lose. No one can argue what he did for Connecticut basketball. It does make the most sense for what the team has to go through this year. If the players respond to Ollie and its a positive experience then the AD has the headache of what to do next. Thanks for memories coach!!!! The shot by Tate George started it all!!!!

  11. UConnPhann

    Jim made his mark with his first NC. Beating the Powerhouse of Duke. But with the scandals, using gutter language. (maybe the players, men and women use it) On of the reasons for EDUCATION is to be able to use the right, non vulgar word. Screaming and “hooking” player from the floor is about a person who has lost control. If most working people acted that way they’d be fired. Jim is OLD too OLD he’s tired and he’s only has a few years of life left–enjoy it at Hilton Head–but with the number of vacancies there–he’ll most likely alone.

    1. Jake

      Calhoun is old but not old enough for Hilton Head. That is God’s waiting room …

    2. Mark

      How can you say he’s too old to coach? Did he not just win a national championship less than 17 months ago? I think so. People are making me crazy with these messages. What know one is talking about, at least that I read, is we need someone like Coach Calhoun to deal with the brunt of the issues coming up: 1.I can’t believe the Big East is going to shut us out of the conference tournament this year. 2.It will be better with Coach Calhoun at the helm absorbing the double jeopardy punishment (for apr scores) at the end of the year. Can you imagine a team with no active players or coaches responsible for the apr scores, but will still be punished, some of them twice?

    3. FanIsSpelledWithF

      Are you kidding me? You’re calling a sports coach uneducated because he swears? Have you ever been on a compettetive team in your life? This is amazingly ignorant…

      If this is your concern, go root for BYU.

  12. Jake

    If Kevin Ollie is named new head coach will he be featured in Who’s Climbing Connecticut’s Career Ladder?

  13. Dave

    At 70, it’s time to allow others to learn from the lessons you’ve taught and step aside to see if the teachings were meaningful. Second, the salaries in sports are obscene. How much is enough for a coach? I wouldn’t care if he donated his entire salary back to the school, but to take it and miss a large portion of the season is not right.

    Retire and enjoy life, we don’t want or need a Connecticut Brett.

    1. Mark

      What is a CT Brett? Foghettaboutit, who cares? We don’t want or need fans (or non-fans) like you. Coach as long as you want Jim and let us know when you feel good and ready… each year.

  14. Artie A

    A saint and a sinner in the world of college hoops.
    Why jerk the school around and possibly tarnish the legacy any further.
    Once a huge fan, I have seen the ego replace the man. Not for the best public image.

  15. JBL

    Rare is it that I’ve seen such a collection of comments so bereft of common sense and credulity.

    You shouldn’t need to be a UConn alum or a hardcore sports fan to understand the impact that Jim Calhoun and Huskies basketball has had.

    Most tiresome is the constant questioning of justifications for Calhoun’s salary.


    In other more appreciative, less banal, less self-loathing States, we’d be discussing what part of the campus – which street in Hartford – should be re-named in his honor.

    During his UConn career, Calhoun’s presence in Storrs and the basketball program Calhoun built into national elite status has reaped untold hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues for the school, businesses and the State.

    You need look no further than Massachusetts or New York for proof of the envy that neighboring state’s sports fans have for the successes of Jim Calhoun and UConn basketball.

    But rather than celebrate a man whose work has served as a rallying point for a State that lost its only Major League sports franchise; or as a consistently high quality entertainment product; or as a high level revenue generator for our flagship state school; or as a positive public role model who has influenced countless lives and dedicated countless hours of free time to charitable endeavors . . . some of us are gonna complain about his more than justifiable, arguably below market rate, salary and his use of ‘bad words’?!


    The complaining is opportunistic claptrap, and more to the point, it’s just ignorant noise.


      The lack of common sense has a clear odor of jealousy. Most of the negative outrage directed at JC fails to understand without a coach of his stature and success you don’t get the players to come to Storrs. The UConn brand, under the leadership of JC and GA, is or should be unquestioned, even by the proverbial village idiots.

    2. Mark

      From the other Mark: To JBL. I don’t read or post comments much, aside from today, but your post is one of the more enjoyable, well put posts I’ve ever read. Great plucking job!

  16. big blue

    Hey folks, you have drifted away from the meat of the article….Is he or isn’t he??….too much drama, too big an ego, too much money to be made….HE’S BACK….it’s a given…

  17. Mike

    I agree with the likes of Paul, JBL and Bill Naples – we should be celebrating a man who has brought 3 national championships to our school (as a note, Uconn is one of only 7 schools in history to win as many as 3, and only 4 schools – Duke, Kentucky, UNC and Uconn, have won that many in the Calhoun era). The bottom line is that the man has earned the right to determine his fate on his timeline, especially with what he personally and the team have been through in the past year. And yes, I know he is somewhat of an enigma and be charming and vulgar, forthcoming and smug, all at the same time, but he is not being compensated as a choir boy, he is being paid to lead his school’s team to national championships and develop young men. By the way, look at how many of his former players show up at his annual charity event out of respect – many of who comment that Calhoun has been a father figure to them. And don’t be so naive to think that he (and Geno) aren’t somewhat reponsible for the elevation of the UCONN brand, both athletically and academically. So if Jim wants to wait to the last minute to make up his mind on coaching this season, I can live with that!

  18. whowho

    Coaches are nothing more than overpaid babysitters. As far as championships go, who really cares? Outside of those who are directly involved how does winning a sports ”championship” affect anyone’s life? If colleges got back to academics maybe there would be less bozos running around whose only accomplishment is winning a ring.

    1. Jake

      A championship might get a coach featured in Who’s Climbing Connecticut’s Career Ladder?

    2. Mark

      Wow, can’t wait to pick this one apart. Quote:”As far as championships go, who really cares?” Most people reading these articles and following their favorite team really care. In a competive event, someone usually wins. When you are the last team to win, typically you win the national championship. Quote:”…how does winning a sports “championship” affect anyone’s life?” It may be sad to some, but watching UConn bball and knowing most of the last 25 years that they had a legitimate shot at winning a national championship has made my life pretty damn amazing. I’m quite certain I follow other UConn sports because of the bball success. Your quote about academics and bozos doesn’t deserve a response.

  19. PatrickJ

    Like all Husky fans, I am deeply thankful for everything Coach Calhoun has done for our program. Especially that 3rd title – that really put us in some rarified air. But I too believe now is the perfect time to step down and hand the reigns over to Ollie. The expectations for this year are low so it’s a perfect transition year to do this. Ultimately, it’s Calhoun’s decision and no one should bully him into this. He has certainly earned that right.

  20. Mark

    This would be ideal season for Coach to retire, and start with new coach. Since post season is out, the new coach can take over without normal pressures of NCAA tournament.

    My only concern with Ollie is that recently our teams, and key players, have not played to expectations (especially last yr.) So is Ollie really the chosen one? To me, the jury is still out.

    1. Mark

      sorry folks, i was drinking when i left that last post. the jury is NOT out. don’t know what i was thinking but i do know what i was drinking.

      1. Mark

        From the other Mark: “Drinking”? …at 10:19 am? Hopefully that is the EDT posting and you’re somewhere else like say China? :)

  21. Paul

    Kevin Ollie, Shaka Smart (VCU), Brad Stevens (Butler), or Tommy Amaker (Harvard)?

    For me it is:
    1. Stevens
    2. Smart
    3. Ollie
    3b. Amaker

  22. craig

    This is getting to be like a Brett Farve reoccurring sideshow. He’s done a great job obviously and we should all be thankful for all the great years. But, if this retirement question is going to be out there every year and he plays it to the last minute all the time.. It cannot be good for the development of the programs future. Either make a commitment or don’t.

  23. Mark

    wonder if he does the same thing with his wife: go year to year before annoucing whether or not he’ll honor his marriage contract.

    1. Mark

      From the other Mark: Are you really equating a coaching contract to a marriage? It’s allowed, and even expected, to retire from coaching. You don’t retire from a marriage. What’s wrong with these people?

  24. Karl

    To me it is unbelievable that no one is talking about Steve Pikiell as being the possible successor eventually (I hope Coach Calhoun stays for 8 more seasons!). As a former co-captain and coach at Uconn, Steve has proven himself to be a great coach with terrific recruiting capabilities at Stony Brook. Also, he is a native son of Connecticut, having grown up in Bristol. The coaching search should begin and end with Coach Pikiell.

    1. Ferdinand Calegari

      I actually don’t actually know how I ended up in this article, but I thought this posting was good. I really don’t know who you are but definitely you’re going to a well-known blogger if you are not presently

  25. Jake

    Sounds like Karl wants to see Steve Pikell featured in Who’s Climbing Connecticut’s Career Ladder?

  26. Paul

    Actually, KARL IS RIGHT. HOLY Cap, why is he never mentioned. Calhoun’s fruit is not all rotten.
    PIKIELL is a STUD!!
    Maybe Ollie can take over at Stoney Brook to get some head coach experience and prove himself.
    Although, I hope JC stays at least through the year of probation that arose under his watch. Don’t pull a Pete Carroll, or Calipari.

  27. Terry

    Get it done already! School prez needs to put lid on Manuel’s meddling. Who the next coach is will be Calhoun’s decision, count on it. Untill Ollie succeeds or fails, Manuel needs to stay out of matters that don’t concern him.

  28. Tom Bean

    Just wasted time looking here when should have been paying attention to the US Open. Azarenka may just win her first.
    Nope not to be.

    Serena adds another notch

    When Coach Calhoun says yes or no,I will celebrate his body of work as one of the best in the history of college sports.

    Thank you Jim.

    1. Merle Sarazin

      it appears like your website ate my first comment (it was very long) so I suppose I’ll just sum it up what I sent in and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your website. I too am an aspiring web log blogger but I’m still brand new to every little thing. Do you have any helpful hints for newbie blog authors? I’d definitely appreciate it.I heard somebody talking about this on the radio yesterday, but I can’t remember what station it was.

Comments are closed.