Thursday, September 13, 2012

Jim Calhoun: The End Of An Era

Back in the day I loved watching Big East basketball. My favorite team was the Syracuse Orangemen and their #1 rivals were St. Johns and Georgetown. The UConn Huskies were not on the radar at the time, but as it stands currently they have more national championships than those 3 schools combined. The architect of their success is hall of fame coach Jim Calhoun who retired from college basketball today. Calhoun has 873 wins and 3 titles in 26 years. He is undoubtedly the most successful coach in Big East history.

His legacy is somewhat tainted however. Jim Calhoun represents what is good and bad about big time college athletics. On the one hand Calhoun built a top 5 program giving young men an opportunity to better their lives and fulfill their dreams. Over the last 25 years UConn has turned out 26 NBA players including Ray Allen, Richard Hamilton, Ben Gordon, Rudy Gay, Emeka Okafor, and Caron Butler.

On the other hand Calhoun proved once again that absolute power corrupts absolutely. He completely turned his back to off the court violations when informed of them and treated NCAA investigations of his program as if he were insulted his authority and judgement could be questioned. In recent years it became obvious he thought he and his program were above the law.

I'm sure in the end Jim Calhoun will be remembered for the Naismith trophies he's collected rather than paying players and associating with known agents, but if you're going to be fair you have to take the good with the bad. Calhoun was no saint. He was a hell of a coach and a great recruiter though.

My favorite Jim Calhoun quote: "I stopped recruiting Ryan Gomes because I only had 2 scholarships open. I gave them to Caron Butler and Emeka Okafor. What do you want me to do? You want me to say I fu*ked up? Ok, I guess I fu*ked up."

Top 5 UConn players all time:

1. Ray Allen
2. Richard Hamilton
3. Caron Butler
4. Rudy Gay
5. Emeka Okafor

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