With retirement looming, which coaches mean more to the game?


With the retirement of UConn coach Jim Calhoun last week, college basketball lost one of its headliners.

Calhoun hanging it up got Matt Norlander of CBSSports.com thinking, ‘who might retire next?’

The list is a who’s-who of coaches, some closer to calling it a career than others. The list ranges from 72-year-old Larry Brown at SMU to 47-year-old Billy Donovan at Florida (is he REALLY 47?). He also includes his best guess at the year they retire.

So I got to thinking: of this list, which coaches’ retirement would mean more to the game?

By that, I mean which coaches, when they retire, will leave a lasting mark on college basketball? Whether it was a style, a strategy, a message, etc., some coaches are held in higher regard than others, obviously.

If we’re talking importance, five guys on this list mark the end of certain eras. Not just for programs, but for college basketball coaching as a whole. Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski because, of the wins and the Duke name. Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim for his longevity and dedication to one program (walk-on player to long-time head coach). Michigan State’s Tom Izzo for his consistency — no one outside of John Wooden has had a run of Final Fours like he has. Louisville’s Rick Pitino for his varied success at different programs and his adaptation to the changes in the game, being the first coach to take full advantage of the three-point arch. And finally, Kentucky’s John Calipari, who single-handedly changed the recruiting game with his approach, which has been both successful and controversial.

The biggest name is obviously the 67-year-old Boeheim, who also already might have a replacement on the bench, as Norlander points out.

Syracuse already looks to have a successor in assistant Mike Hopkins. But is there a set succession schedule? And if a major job opens next spring, would Hopkins take it if Boeheim was still three years away from retiring.

It’s all something to definitely think about. I almost wouldn’t even worry about Brown’s career, being that the guy has been between jobs more than Liz Taylor was with marriages. He might still be coaching into his 90’s.

My money is on Boeheim calling it quits next. The guy has put the Orange into almost unparalleled heights since he took over, which means there’s not much left to do, and you could tell that the whole Bernie Fine episode, true or not, took a toll on him.

David Harten is the editor of The Backboard Chronicles. You can follow him on Twitter at @David_Harten.