John Wooden retired after winning his 10th and final NCAA championship in 1975. He was 64.
Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun turns 69 next month. He’s had cancer three times, fell off a bike in 2009 and broke five ribs and missed games in 2008, ’09 and ’10 for various medical reasons.
If the Huskies win it all Monday night, it’ll be Calhoun’s third title, tying him with Bob Knight for fourth-most all time. He’d also be the oldest coach to raise the trophy.
So. Simple question. Would he retire?
Here’s his answer from Sunday’s Final Four press conferences: “I would think it may be a legitimate question. I don’t know if it is.”
He told Seth Davis that if UConn would’ve won in 2009, he was going to retire. Have the last two seasons done enough to change his mind? He’s content with his legacy, having built UConn into a national power. When he arrived in 1986, it was nothing.
“One thing I’ll guarantee you, I know who I am. I know what I’ve done in 39 years of coaching. You don’t have to tell me, you don’t have to write it, but I know who I am. Quite frankly, I’m pretty comfortable with who I am,” he said.
Yet that’s what makes all of this difficult to forecast. He’s hardly the type to just ride off into the sunset. From Gregg Doyel’s column:
Nothing about the man is easy. He’s stubborn, competitive and combative. Assuming UConn beats Butler on Monday night, everyone will tell him it’s time to retire. Which probably increases the odds that he won’t. You don’t tell Calhoun what to do. Remember that time in 2009, when a camera-loving political activist wanted to know how Calhoun could happily cash his checks for $1.6 million in a year when the state economy was in the garbage can? The activist couldn’t even finish his question before Calhoun bellowed, “Not a dime back!”
Don’t ever tell Jim Calhoun what to do.
Perhaps this year was a gift, maybe even one he didn’t deserve. What to do with a gift? You enjoy it, savor it and go on.
How could he not ride off into the sunset?
You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.