How will Jim Calhoun be remembered?


Jim Calhoun did what Jim Calhoun has done more than just about any basketball coach in history tonight. He won his 800th game, joining the likes of Bob Knight, Coach K and Dean Smith to become just the seventh Division I coach to reach that mark. Aside from its historical relevance, the victory all but guaranteed that UConn will once again be the top ranked team in America heading into the final week of college basketball’s regular season.

But even though he would never admit it, the win had to be a little bittersweet for Calhoun. The game didn’t seem like a nationally televised battle between No. 2 Connecticut and tenth ranked Marquette. It didn’t feel like win number 800. All that really mattered was that it was the first game following a tirade that made him a featured topic for every talking head in America this week.

By now you obviously know Calhoun made a fool out of himself last weekend when he lashed out at a reporter who asked a question about his salary and whether or not he would take a pay cut to help the state close its enormous budget gap. This, of course, wasn’t nearly the first time Calhoun turned in a post-game press conference worthy of a beer commercial, which has me wondering what his ultimate legacy will be.

We all know he’s more Knight than Krzyzewski, but will he be remembered as more bitter than brilliant? Will his reputation for being a bully trump everything he did both on and off the court?

You can’t ask most Connecticut residents this question. Calhoun is a saint in the Constitution State. Even as Husky fans statewide are losing their jobs and homes, most would argue he is a bargain at $1.6 million per year. Put it this way: If the man ran for Governor, he’d whip any opponent the way his Huskies used to whip Marathon Oil every preseason. His only challenger would be Geno Auriemma.

But nationally, I’m not sure he’s looked at in the same light. On television, he comes off more as a foul-mouthed, mean-spirited man than someone who has helped raise millions of dollars for cancer and autism research. If you do a YouTube search of his name, the majority of the hits that come back are of him attacking the media.

A Google search nets similar results.

And whether it’s fair or not, this is how we learn about people. We use the internet. And that’s not changing anytime soon.

So yes, I do think it’s fair to have questions about Calhoun’s legacy. The man is an all-time winner who turned Storrs, Ct into the basketball capitol of the country. But in this era of endless information, we’ve learned that he isn’t exactly what Husky fans make him out to be. They call him fiery.

I call him flawed.


Anonymous 3:02 AM, February 26, 2009  

you really have to be shitting me. you're critcizing him for getting on the media a few times. maybe they shouldn't ask stupid fucking questions, specially ones that dont have anything to do with basketball.

this was the first time i read your blog. it will probably be the last.

Anonymous 11:19 PM, February 26, 2009  

Jim Calhoun certainly does have a fiery temper. He has not thrown any chairs onto a basketball court (a' la Knight), but I think he has come close. Lip reading 101 and you can understand some of what he says to his players at timeouts (not for the faint hearted), but truthfully the question was a little inappropriate at a post game press conference and the "reporter" is a bit of a nut case who lied to get a press pass. Those kind of questions are probably better asked one on one in a private interview. I am from Ct and I know how both he and Geno are "canonized", but they have put the University of Connecticut on the map and have both brought in millions to the University, raised money for charities and done a lot of good in Connecticut. I guess he can't be all that bad though because his former players still come to games, speak with the current teams, rally around him during his illnesses, participate in charity events, etc; so they have a respect and love for him that goes beyond the years they spent in college. The same goes for Geno, so I guess the "tough love" in their cases work. Do they make a lot of money? They sure do, but they are under contract to perform a service and they both do so more than adequately. They put their heart and soul into their teams. Is he flawed? Aren't we all?

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