After winning 873 games at Northeastern and UConn, Jim Calhoun made the decision to retire shortly before the start of the 2012-13 season. However, even with the move away from the sidelines the Hall of Famer has remained close to the game, serving as a special advisor to UConn AD Warde Manuel and being a fixture at UConn games both home and away.
Thursday it was reported that the coach who provided some unforgettable moments in his dealings with the media (look up his Ryan Gomes-based rant on YouTube) will be on television. According to The Big Lead, Calhoun is one of three former college head coaches who will work in the ESPN studios during the 2014-15 season.
The others: former Kent State, Arkansas and USF head coach Stan Heath and former Brown and Oregon State head coach Craig Robinson.
Given Calhoun’s achievements, most notably building a program that would win three national titles under his watch, he could provide some interesting insight in the studio. But the transition from the sidelines to the studio can be difficult to predict, with some coaches making a smoother transition than others.
What may help in Calhoun’s case is that he’s two years removed from the sidelines, so he won’t be going “directly” from the court to the studio.
Two weeks ago, South Florida relieved head coach Stan Heath of his duties following a 12-20 (3-15 American Athletic Conference) season.
It comes as no surprise that Heath’s son, Josh, a freshman guard for the Bulls, decided to transfer out of the program. The latest college basketball transfer was reported by Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports on Sunday morning.
The 6-foot-2 guard averaged 2.6 points, 3.6 assists and 1.4 rebounds per game in 17 games, all of which came against American Athletic Conference opponents. Coming out of Tampa Prep (Fla.), Heath held offers from DePaul, Princeton, Georgia Southern, Jacksonville and North Florida before deciding to join his father at USF.
Heath will have three years of eligibility remaining. He will likely get a waiver to play immediately at his new school given that a precedent has been set in previous seasons. Rhode Island fired Jim Baron in 2012. He accepted the Canisius job and his son, Billy, followed him from URI to Canisius and was granted a hardship waiver, allowing him to play in the 2012-2013 season. The same thing occurred the previous season, when Central Michigan fired Ernie Zeigler. His son, Trey, received immediate eligibility when he transferred to Pitt.
South Florida is still in search of a head coach after the deal with Manhattan head coach Steve Masiello had to be axed after a background check revealed he had never received a degree from the University of Kentucky. UNLV head coach Dave Rice was being targeted, but Rice is in the process of getting an extension from the Runnin’ Rebels.
Stan Heath was fired after seven seasons with the Bulls.
On Tuesday, Mark Harlan, formerly of UCLA, was introduced as South Florida’s new athletic director. During his introductory comments, Harlan explained what his schedule held in the coming days, saying he would meet with student-athletes and “…listen, listen, listen … then evaluate. Then I will act. I want to learn what’s working, what’s not working, then make some decisions. There are some decisions that need to be made.” The next day, USF dropped a closely-contested AAC tournament game to Rutgers. While Harlan doesn’t officially start until April 7th, Harlan apparently listened and evaluated on Thursday before acting today, firing coach Stan Heath.
The Bulls aren’t devoid of talent, and this past season, one that resulted in a 12-20 record and the loss of Anthony Collins, USF’s star guard whose year was significantly cut short by injuries, was not totally dreadful. The team had three AAC wins, and did beat Alabama during the non-conference slate. Whoever is hired by Harlan will have a stacked roster entering the 2014-15 season, and USF clearly has the pieces to contend. Collins had been shut down for most of the year, and his improved health will be crucial. The freshmen frontcourt duo of Chris Perry and John Egbunu should take the sophomore leap and spend next year beasting other conference bigs, and the year of experience under Heath will benefit one of the nation’s youngest teams.
According to a report from ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman and Brett McMurphy, the NCAA is reviewing the eligibility of South Florida starting freshman center John Egbunu.
Egbunu has started 16 of 17 games for South Florida this season and is averaging eight points and 6.9 rebounds per game for the Bulls. The freshman is a native of Nigeria.
Goodman and McMurphy are reporting that Egbunu’s former grassroots coach, Linzy Davis, has been contacted by and spoken to the NCAA regarding Egbunu, who lived with Davis during the center’s junior year in high school.
South Florida said in a statement on Friday it had been “contacted” by the NCAA over “concerns involving one of our student-athletes.”
“We have initiated a review of the matter and have asked the NCAA to assist us,” the school’s statement read.
South Florida would not reveal the student-athlete in question by maintains the athlete was, “completely certified and cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center prior to enrolling.”
ESPN has sources indicating that the player in question is Egbunu and South Florida head coach Stan Heath told ESPN.com on Friday night, “I feel confident in this matter. John’s status has not changed. He will start Saturday against Cincinnati.”
They may not have been the prettiest basketball team to watch in 2011-12, but South Florida went a lot farther than the 14-seed in the Big East that they were projected to be in the preseason media poll.
Despite having no one player average double digits in scoring, the Bulls won 22 games and came one win away from the Sweet 16.
Stan Heath is as likeable a coach in college basketball as you’ll come across and, after being on the hottest of hot seats more than once in his tenure at South Florida, it looks like he will be sticking around, thanks to the fine job he did this season.
Heath said that, once his team got back to campus, players were already back in the gym and lifting weights, preparing for workouts and the season to come.
With realignment clearing some (albeit a small) space at the top of the Big East, perhaps the Bulls can prove that this year wasn’t a fluke.
Take look at the video below to see Heath’s full comments.
(h/t to @GregAumen and the Tampa Bay Times for video)
Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_