Another Terrible Day For The Big East
Bad news is coming in twos for the conference that not long ago, like last year, was the beast of college basketball. The early bad news was that Notre Dame is leaving to join the ACC, joining fellow departers Syracuse and Pitt to that conference. Later in the afternoon word leaked out that long time UConn head coach Jim Calhoun is suddenly retiring.
The three time NCAA champion coach will make the announcement official at a press conference on Thursday. Calhoun was hired by the fledgling school in 1986 and he led the way for the Huskies not only for his program but the womens team and soon after a football program that played at a low level and no one cared. The football program has since played in a BCS game, the Fiesta Bowl to be exact.
Calhoun will leave behind a program that has been rocked with scandal and will not be allowed to compete for the 2013 NCAA tournament. He also leaves as one of the great coaches in the history of college hoops. His turn around job pretty much started right away, as his Huskies made the NIT tournament in his 2nd year at the school.
Calhoun coached Northeastern for 14 years before being lured away by UConn in 1986. Five times Calhoun took the Northeastern program to the NCAA tourney. Northeastern was a Division II program when Calhoun took it over.
Calhoun led Uconn to three national titles. His first was in 1999 beating Duke 77-74 in the title game. The second title came in 2004 and a second defeat of Georgia Tech. The Huskies beat Georgia Tech to start the year and to finish the season as champs. Perhaps though it was his most recent title that was the most incredible.
Calhoun's Huskies underachieved all year in 2011 and then went on the most remarkable run in the post season. First, UConn won five games in five days to win the Big East Tournament. Many pundits felt if they hadn't won the tourney they wouldn't have made the NCAA's. Led by Kemba Walker they won the Big East and then won six straight games to win the NCAA's clobbering Butler to win it all.
In addition to NCAA troubles, Calhoun has had major health troubles. Three times he beat back cancer to return to his teams. He also suffered from back maladies last year, missing 11 games. Uconn lost in the 1st round of the NCAA's to Iowa State and that will be the final game of Calhoun's storied career.
In total, Calhoun won an astounding 873 games as a college coach in 40 years in addition to those three titles.
Calhoun recently suffered another medical set back, falling off his bike and injuring his hip. Sources close to ESPN say assistant Kevin Ollie will take over a program that has issues including that NCAA penalty next year!