Up until the time UConn was finishing its five-day March to the Big East championship, I thought there was no chance in hell the Huskies would make a Final Four this year, let alone win the national championship. But then the run through Madison Square Garden happened and it became clear that, with a little luck, this UConn team actually did have a shot at the title. And once I started thinking about that, my mind jumped to the next logical place: What does that mean for Jim Calhoun?
I did not want to bring this up until now, because if UConn had lost any of its last four NCAA games it would be a moot point. It's also moot if UConn loses in Houston. But if the Huskies win, that's a different story.
It is no secret that Calhoun is nearing the end of his time in Storrs. He is currently in the first year of a five-year contract that everyone agrees will be his last and that some don't even expect him to finish. For years, reports have indicated that what Calhoun really wants is a third national championship, and, if and when he gets it, he'll retire. He told Seth Davis a few months ago that if UConn had won it all in '09 he would have retired then, and it seems likely that a championship in 2011 means he'd retire now.
Sure, there are things that cut against that.
Calhoun has clearly enjoyed coaching this team more than any team in a long while, and even though he'll lose Kemba Walker after this season, he still has a lot to work with. After all, the original plan seemed to be a 2013 title run, so Calhoun might want to shoot for championship number four. Plus, he'd have almost his whole team back. He also might not want to leave with the team on NCAA probation.
Of course, Calhoun knows as well as anyone that success in the NCAA is never guaranteed and it seems like he wants to go out on top. And hell, it's unlikely but with the way Jeremy Lamb has been playing he might just follow Walker out the door (How unlikely is this? Incredibly, Lamb just doesn't have an NBA body yet, but someone would pay for his potential and with his coach leaving it might make sense for Lamb to jump too). Sure, he'd be leaving the program when it was on probation, but he'd also dodge the three-game suspension for next season and a ton of NCAA-related headaches.
As for a replacement, it seems like there might finally be a good option in the Calhoun coaching tree in Kevin Ollie (I'd bet we can forget about Tom Moore thanks to Josh Nochimson). I spoke with Meacham about Ollie last night and said that while he was my favorite replacement candidate, I had big worries about replacing Calhoun with someone who only had one year of experience (in 2013 though? Assuming things keep going well? Yes. Ollie. Yes). But then today Andy Katz had a piece up floating the idea of Ollie as the HC in a very favorable light.
Like I said before: If UConn loses this is a discussion we don't need to be having. However, I thought it was important to mention because there is at least a chance -- and not an insignificant one -- that we'll only see Calhoun on the UConn sideline two more times, and if that's the case, everyone should take those last 80 minutes to appreciate Calhoun while we still can.