Mar 6, 2012; New York, NY, USA; Connecticut Huskies head coach Jim Calhoun during the first half against the DePaul Blue Demons in the first round of the 2012 Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Jim O'Connor-US PRESSWIRE
Today's May fifth, which makes it a) Cinco de Mayo, b) Kentucky Derby Day, c) a Saturday and d) way past Jim Calhoun's self-imposed deadline to announce wether or not he'd coach next year. You see, back in March Calhoun said he'd make up his mind and let us all in on his secret shortly after the Final Four was done (it wrapped up on April 2). At the time he said this:
"Despite what other people think, I realize it's not the best thing for UConn to have this situation. We need to, for recruiting purposes and other things, keep the program stable, and I don't think this can be a long-term situation, nor will it be. By the time the college basketball season is over, word will be coming out of Storrs about our future. I don't think there's any way we can leave ourselves out there."
So yeah, announcing a decision is important, and Calhoun clearly realizes it, so what's going on? I have no idea, and that worries me. But not for the reason you might think.
It doesn't worry me because I think Calhoun is retiring. I actually think the odds of that are spectacularly low, especially since UConn's newest recruit Phil Nolan is under the impression that Calhoun will be back. I also think the looming NCAA ban gets marked down in the "likely to return" column, because I can't see Calhoun leaving the program he built at one of its weakest moments. He said his return last year was motivated by a desire to serve his three-game Big East suspension so there wouldn't be any sort of black mark hovering over the school. Combine that with his general "stick it to the NCAA attitude" and stated desire to see a practice facility built before his retirement and the case for a return looks compelling.
So why haven't we heard anything? I don't know, but I can think of a few possible obstacles and none of them are good.
The first is Calhoun's health. When he returned at the end of the season he was fresh off a back surgery and we've heard nothing to indicate how his longer-term recovery is going. Just glancing at online discussions I get the feeling that a lot of fans have more or less forgotten that Calhoun missed several weeks because of serious physical pain, and we don't know how that will play out. It's entirely possible Calhoun may want to come back, but simply cannot be sure if he is able.
Second, and a favorite of online speculation, is the idea that Calhoun is locked in some behind the scenes power struggle to try and name a coach-in-waiting and the hold up is related to that. Calhoun has indicated he wants UConn to name a coach-in-waiting (read: Kevin Ollie), but that's a risky move for plenty of reasons and I can only imagine that it is further complicated by UConn's status as a state institution. This is UConn's worst possible scenario -- a messy fight over transition will end with no winners and plenty of losers -- so let's hope it's not a factor (and if it is let's be thankful it's private so far).
Whatever the reason, UConn's continued uncertainty is not good. I hinted at this two weeks ago, but at this point the worst thing to come out of Storrs isn't bad news. UConn has had plenty of that and seems to be on a track to fix at least some of it going forward. No, UConn's worst enemy right now is uncertainty. It's a looming spectre that only results in unproductive questions and concerns being raised when they could easily be avoided. So here's hoping this question will be answered soon. There's no reason it should still be troubling UConn in May.