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Jim Calhoun still has an ‘itch’ for the game

Sep 15, 2013, 1:00 PM EDT

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Talk to former college athletes, and many will tell you that the biggest competitor on their team was not a player, but rather a coach — the head coach. The sport they coach and the kids they mentor are their profession and, ultimately, winning is how any coach will be judged.

It has been just over a year since Jim Calhoun announced his retirement, and the former Connecticut coach says he is content in his retirement from coaching. This past April, he spent some time at The Breakers in Palm Beach, FL with his family and grandchildren, something he wouldn’t have been able to do as a head coach.

He is happy, but like all competitors, he still has that itch that just won’t go away.

Calhoun told Dom Amore of The Hartford Courant:

It seems like I have to tap-dance for people to believe I’m happy But I’m happy. … I gave up the keys to the car for all the right reasons. I felt it was the right time. … But it’s hard to be swimming in a particular direction and then have to stand. You don’t know kind of what to do. You’ve done something for 40-something years, I’m used to waking up at five o’clock in the morning and solving problems, setting up my day mentally.

The holder of the keys is rising star in the coaching profession Kevin Ollie, who has did a remarkable job in his first year at the helm of Connecticut, considering that the Huskies were ineligible for postseason play. Calhoun has no qualms of Ollie as head coach — in fact, he heavily endorsed him to take over the program after he retired — but the longtime coach of Connecticut from 1986-2012 misses having basketball and his players in his life on a daily basis:

I truly believe the void of basketball is one I’m having a difficult time filling. I spent a few minutes out there this morning talking to [Shabazz Napier]; I spent some time with Tyler. I miss the game, the game itself, the way guys can improve…[T]here’s a little itch there, about basketball and the kids. I’ve talked to people, I don’t know how to scratch that itch. I will. I’ll find a way to scratch that itch.

Currently, Calhoun serves as a special adviser to athletic director Warde Manuel. In this way, he is still very much connected to the university and daily happenings, but it’s obviously not the same as roaming the sideline during practices and games as head coach.

Calhoun isn’t sure what the next step is for him. He has toyed with the idea of coaching a national team overseas, in discussions with satellite radio about having his own sports talk show, and spoken with TV networks about becoming a college hoops analyst. However he may be able to scratch the “itch” he currently has, “it would have to be the right situation,” he explained.

For the time being, Calhoun can enjoy the bit of quiet time he is receiving. But, make no mistake about it, he is a competitor in ever sense of the word, so don’t be surprised if he finagles his way back into the game in some capacity. Anything to rid himself of the “itch.”

  1. namriverrat69 - Sep 15, 2013 at 11:15 PM

    I’m a life long Arizona fan. Coaches like Calhoun bring so many positive things to the game. He has such a competitive fire in his belly which makes it hard to walk away from the game. Fans all over the country appreciate what coach Calhoun has accomplished these past 26 or so years at Connecticut.

    The passing of the torch from one generation to the next makes it sad to see him retire. I look forward to seeing him somewhere as an analyst or in some other capacity on TV. College basketball misses the influence of great men like Coach Calhoun, Gene Keady, Lou Carnesaca (sic) and Lute Olson.

    It is exciting to see their successors come in and pick up where the reitred coach left off. I look for Sean Miller to continue to put great teams on the floor at Arizona as well as other coaches carrying on the torch at various schools.

    Now I can’t help myself since hockey season starts in about 3 weeks:

  2. annapterp - Sep 16, 2013 at 2:38 PM

    Ha..coaches like Calhoun also bring to light the seedy and disgusting side of college basketball. This guy was caught more than once by the NCAA and got nothing but a slap on the wrist. The game is better without him in it!

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