That's the conclusion Seth Davis drew in his Sports Illustrated column yesterday, and it makes sense. To wit:
Whatever is going on must be quite serious, which is why I hope Calhoun will take this time to do more than just deal with whatever temporary health issue has arisen. I hope he steps back, looks at the big picture and decides to retire at the end of this season.
Indeed, Calhoun still holds fast to the coach's natural optimism: We're not that far away. A few hard practices and we can turn this thing around. No way we can quit just yet. But I fear it is just that way of thinking that is putting his health in jeopardy. Four times over the past two years, Calhoun has missed all or part of a game because of dehydration and other minor illnesses. He is clearly pushing himself to the brink, and possibly beyond.
Calhoun doesn't need me to tell him how to live his life, and I'm guessing he'll ignore this advice, but I'm hoping against hope that this latest bout with his health will scare him straight. To his great credit, Calhoun has remained an attentive husband and father despite the demands of his profession, and he should consider himself fortunate that he is in good enough shape to hit the treadmill even at the age of 67. The game of college basketball will miss him when he retires, but his family will miss him more if he keeps putting this kind of toll on his body. So please, coach, get out while you still can. The sideline is no place for a good man to die.
One quick thing before we move on here: Davis deserves lots of credit for writing, as he does in this column, that coaching isn't the only profession in the world that has to deal with long hours and stressful conditions. Plenty of people have stressful jobs. Plenty of them aren't compensated as well as big-time Division I basketball and football coaches. It's not that coaching isn't stressful. It is. But it's nice to see Davis, like Jay Bilas before him (Insider), refusing to buy into the myth that college coaches are forced to choose between success in their profession and personal health. That epidemic has far more to do with the men in the positions than the positions themselves.
Anyway, Jim Calhoun. Should he retire? With the caveat that it doesn't matter what any of us think, and that this isn't advice so much as a musing on the status of a legendary college hoops coach ... yes. Yes. Jim Calhoun needs to retire. There has never been a better time.
Actually, check that. The best time would have been last summer, after Calhoun's loaded Huskies failed to deliver one last national title. In the words of Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement, conditions were perfect. Calhoun was 67. The Huskies were graduating and losing a host of talented veterans. Calhoun's long battle with cancer-related health issues were creeping up again, forcing him to miss the first game of the NCAA tournament. And UConn was coming under fire -- with Calhoun in the crosshairs -- over a Yahoo! Sports report that the Huskies violated NCAA rules in the recruitment of former guard Nate Miles. Really, what more reason do you need? Retirement seemed like the only logical option.
Logic, apparently, had nothing to do with it. Calhoun wants to compete. Lest we forget, this is the same man who crashed his bike in a charity race, broke five of his ribs, and pedaled the remaining 38 miles to the finish. I don't have to spell out the metaphorical relevance here. This is not a man who walks away.
But Davis is right: He should. Sure, it's his life, and he can do what he wants. He's earned that right. And it's not like he cares what anybody else, let alone a blogger sitting in his basement (literally, right now, I'm sitting in my basement, har har), thinks. But rarely have so many factors pointed toward a coach's retirement. For once, Calhoun should say the dreaded "q" word. He should quit. It's a shame geeks like me would even have to write it.