The speculation began immediately after Iowa State manhandled UConn in the second round of the NCAA Tournament late Thursday evening: was that Jim Calhoun's last game as coach of the Huskies? As it stands, he's 69 years old and health issues have forced him to miss time in recent years. Plus, it's something he's discussed publicly as recently as last April, weeks after UConn won the national title.
Not surprisingly, Calhoun was in no mood to entertain questions about his future.
"We're talking about tonight's game," he said. "We're not talking about me. I'm going to get on a plane tomorrow, go home, meet up with the team on Monday. As far as my personal thing, I don't think that has any relevance here."
And as it pertains to the team's performance against the Cyclones he's right. But now, in the light of day with seven months of offseason in front of us, it's going to be the topic of discussion, particularly given that UConn is currently ineligible for the 2013 NCAA Tournament because of academic failings that happened during Calhoun's tenure.
Calhoun has been in Storrs for 26 years, has three national titles and he's put countless players into the NBA. But as the USA Today's Mike Lopresti observed after Thursday's loss, "Every famous coach has a final NCAA moment. You wonder if we just saw Jim Calhoun's."
If the ensuing months are anything like last year, Calhoun won't comment on his future until late summer at the earliest. Unless, of course, new athletic director Warde Manuel intervenes first. During the search for a new AD, according to the Associated Press, university president Susan Herbst said they were looking for someone who could make changes at UConn. She said UConn’s search committee talked extensively to Manuel about how he might eventually replace Calhoun.
In his introductory press conference last month, Manuel said: “The program that [Calhoun's] built here, he’s earned the ability to have some input and some thought in a significant way into, when that day would happen, what he would like to see; who he would like to see. But ultimately, I believe as an athletic director that it has to be the choice of the institution.”
This isn't to say that Calhoun's career will end ingloriously after Thursday's loss, just that the administration has a) given that eventuality plenty of thought and b) Calhoun will be involved in finding his replacement … up to a point.
But Calhoun's future isn't the only thing that hangs in the balance. Jeremy Lamb, Andre Drummond and even Alex Oriakhi could choose to enter the NBA Draft, although understandably, all were noncommittal after the loss to Iowa State (via the Hartford Courant).
"I'm not thinking about that right now," Lamb said. "I'm thinking about this game."
"I haven't decided what I'm going to do," Drummond said. "As of right now … I'll be back."
"I'm going to sit down with my family," Oriakhi said, "and talk about it and we'll make a decision."
So, yes, the 2012-13 team could look a lot different than the one that walked off the floor in Louisville Thursday evening.