Will Jim Calhoun Coach Again?

Jared Wickerham

There have been rumblings that the beloved godfather and architect of our basketball dynasty may come out of retirement to coach for a different school, but could that actually happen?

A rumor popped up during the NCAA Tournament that Jim Calhoun had expressed interest in getting back into coaching. Many UConn fans were shocked, some were even offended. I myself had a brief moment of panic before eventually calming down. Ultimately, it shouldn't be very surprising that one of the most driven and successful people in all of college sports miiight want to make a return to the competitive arena.

This all started when Andy Katz asked Jim Calhoun during the AAC Tournament if he would think about a return to coaching after watching his old friend Larry Brown successfully breathe life into a previously irrelevant program at SMU. Throughout the tournament and still today, people are wondering whether or not Calhoun will return to the sidelines, and if so, where?

The current list of head coaching vacancies doesn't offer a ton of options. Per CBS Sports, Tennessee, Missouri, Marshall, Maine, Coppin State and Florida A&M are the Division 1 programs still in the market for a leading man. Calhoun has stated that if the right situation arose he would consider it, so what is the right situation and does it exist among these openings?

(WARNING- Pure Conjecture Alert!)

If I had to guess, I'd say you immediately remove any basketball program with a shred of relevance. Looking at the Larry Brown situation as a template, the school needs to have very little to lose by bringing on a septenagerian with a history of health concerns. Jim Calhoun has nothing to prove, he has said as much directly in interviews. I don't think he's looking for National Championships, he just wants to be around the game that he loves. And in his old age I highly doubt he wants to deal with the rigors of big time college basketball. So scratch off Tennessee and Missouri.

As a guy who spent his entire life in the Northeast, I imagine he would want to stay as close to home as possible. He might venture down the Atlantic coast but overall I bet he stays relatively close to his roots. By my (completely made-up) criteria, out of the schools with vacancies only Maine fits the bill. While I find it to be unlikely, it actually does make a little bit of sense.

Departed Maine coach Ted Woodward was a Calhoun assistant in the late-80's, so maybe he could help Jim get in the door. Maine's AD just came on earlier this year, previously from UNC-Chapel Hill, and is probably looking to separate all ties to the previous regime. Still, few hires would make as big of a splash as bringing in a head coach only three years removed from winning a National Championship. The publicity alone might be worth it for a program like Maine.

Calhoun could wait a year and see what other opportunities arise. But at 71 years old, if he wants to get back into coaching it'll have to be sooner rather than later. I don't have the chops to speculate on any head coaching openings that may exist at this time next year, but since we haven't heard his name come up since the BC non-news I get the sense he plans on waiting. AD's will have a full season to consider Jim Calhoun as an alternative to their current head coach so there could be some better options out there.

***

The real reason I think Calhoun eventually gets back into coaching? He currently sits at 873 career wins. That is four wins away from passing Adolph Rupp and seven wins away from passing Dean Smith on the all-time list. He's 30 wins away from passing Bob Knight for third place in Division 1 Men's Basketball behind Coach K and Jim Boeheim.

You would have be crazy to believe that he isn't aware of those proximities. Passing just Rupp and Smith would be huge for his legacy and would take about half a season. If he could slide into third with three career titles you can easily make the argument that he's the third best college coach of all time behind Wooden and Coach K. You probably already could if you factored in degree of difficulty, but objectively it would mean a lot if he could pass the great Bobby Knight on the career wins list. That is why I really do think he'll end up coaching again.

Wildcard guess: what if Calhoun ended his collegiate career at the same place where it started? Northeastern's current head coach Bill Coen has had one winning season in the past four years and has yet to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. Calhoun still has strong ties to the area where he grew up and it would be a poetic way to finish his coaching career. A Husky for life. (See what I did there?)

How do you think you'd feel seeing Jim Calhoun coaching for another team? What are the odds we actually see him on the sidelines in the next 1-2 years? If he does end up coaching, where do you think he goes?

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