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The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

Jim Calhoun’s months of indecision could pave the way for his hand-picked successor

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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Jim Calhoun (Getty Images)

There are two schools of thought in explaining why Jim Calhoun has once again allowed the calendar to reach September without publicly revealing whether he will coach UConn next season or announce his retirement.

Taking Calhoun at face value, he's merely giving his body as long as possible to heal from his summer bike accident in hope he feels healthy enough to return to the UConn bench. Taking a more cynical school of thought, perhaps he also has a bit of an ulterior motive.

Calhoun has stated many times he believes UConn assistant Kevin Ollie should succeed him whenever he does retire, but it's no secret first-year athletic director Warde Manuel prefers to keep his options open.

Well, if Calhoun retires in mid-to-late September, Manuel will have little choice but to hand the reins to someone within the program on an interim basis. And if that person is Ollie and he meets or exceeds what would be modest expectations next season, Manuel might face pressure to reward him with a long-term contract.

Some will inevitably question whether Calhoun should be holding the program hostage, but the UConn administration would be wise not to pick a fight. Not only has Calhoun earned the right to choose how he retires with his three national championships, it's also critical for the Huskies he leaves on good terms and remains part of the program in some capacity.

What's more, who's to say Calhoun's wrong about Ollie being the best choice for the job? Maybe there's an external candidate with head coaching experience and an impeccable track record who will blow Manuel away, but Ollie has played and coached under Calhoun and been instrumental in keeping recruiting on track despite the uncertainty at the top of the program.

Fervor surrounding Calhoun's future reached a boiling point once again on Thursday as a result of comments he made to SI.com's Mark Blaudschun that suggest he's considering retirement more strongly than ever before.

Calhoun, who is still recovering from the fractured left hip he suffered after falling off his bike, is getting around on crutches for now and hopes to discard those in favor of a cane in the next week or two. He says he has yet to decide if he'll retire, but he would be "very, very surprised" if he doesn't make an announcement within the next two weeks.

"Depends on how I feel sometimes," he told SI.com. "But I'm very close to knowing. I'm just going to wake up one morning and I will know what is the right thing to do. I always said if I ever come here and say, 'Jeez I'm not sure, I will know it's time.'''

We'll find out in the next two weeks if UConn will have to replace a college basketball coaching legend.

If Calhoun listens to his competitive side, perhaps he'll stubbornly fight through lingering hip and back pain to coach until his contract runs out in a couple years and he has the program on solid footing again. If he listens to his ailing body, maybe he'll finally decide it's time to step away.

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