As you all should know by now, Jim Calhoun has taken an indefinite medical leave of absence from the UConn Huskie's sidelines.
Being the fourth time in the last two seasons that this has happened, a number of people have weighed in on whether or not Calhoun should retire (Seth Davis, Eamonn Brennan, College Hoops Journal). The argument is justified. Calhoun has battled health issues for the last seven years - he's a three-time cancer survivor, broke five ribs in a fall in a bike race last summer before finishing the remaining 38 miles of the race, and he's 67 years old. And with UConn still facing the possibility of NCAA sanctions as the result of an alleged recruiting violation, the timing just seems right.
There seems to be a general theme to these arguments. Calhoun has done enough in his tenure with the Huskies to determine, on his own terms, whatever they may be, when the best time for him to step down his.
This is partly true.
Yes, Calhoun has had a hall-of-fame career.
Yes, he built UConn into a powerhouse.
Yes, he has the right to determine when he wants to retire.
But that doesn't necessarily mean that his job is perfectly safe.
The fact of the matter is that UConn is one of the best basketball programs in the country. They routinely compete for conference titles, they make NCAA Tournaments, and they have success in those NCAA Tournaments. Three titles and two Final Fours prove it.
But if UConn gets to the point where they are no longer competing at that level, than regardless of who is in charge, the UConn brass has every right to replace the coach. A college coach is still, in fact, and employee of the university. Its part of the reason I didn't have a huge problem with Florida State forcing out Bobby Bowden.
Their current team is far from that point. They made the final four last season, and after losing three starters - and arguably their three best players from last season (Jeff Adrien, Hasheem Thabeet, AJ Price) - Calhoun once again has this team on the brink of reaching the NCAA Tournament. Believe it or not, but Calhoun is still coaching at an elite level. He's still bringing in five star recruits - Alex Oriakhi this year, Roscoe Smith next year.
No one's calling for Billy Donovan to step down at Florida as his Gator teams have struggled after winning back-to-back titles. Roy Williams has had down seasons after both of his titles, and he's not feeling any heat.
But there's a difference.
Those two aren't dealing with health issues.
And despite those health issues, he's still coaching at a very high level.
The question then becomes, is his health negatively affecting his coaching? I'd argue the exact opposite - his coaching, which hasn't fallen off, is negatively affecting his health. And if he's fine with that, if he's fine with risking his life to do what he loves, who are we to tell him not to?
Let me ask you this: do you think the UConn team is better off with Calhoun coaching, or with George Blaney coaching? Are they better off dealing with Calhoun having to take time off here and there to deal with stress, or exhaustion, or his next cancer flare-up, or whatever the issue may be, or would they be better next season with the coach they bring in to replace him?
Personally, I think the answer's Calhoun.
If Calhoun and his family is ok with him risking his health, and if the results of his coaching don't fall off, I don't see any reason for him to retire until he believes its the right time.
If he's earned anything in his coaching career, its the right to not be second-guessed.