When we first glanced at the headline -- "Who Will Coach When Calhoun Sits Out?" -- on the Hartford Courant's daily mailbag question, we reflexively figured it was about who would replace Jim Calhoun when he finally retires. It's an annual conversation, but usually reserved for late spring and summer. Turns out, the question is pertinent now because Calhoun will miss the first three games on the Big East schedule for recruiting violations.
The Huskies are just seven games into their season, but the Big East schedule will be here soon enough. In fact, UConn faces USF on December 28. There are four games between now and then, and Calhoun won't return to the bench until January 7 when the Huskies travel to New Jersey to face Rutgers.
So back to the original question: who replaces Calhoun during his three-game vacation? The Courant's Dom Amore has some thoughts:
"This would be a good opportunity to give Kevin Ollie some experience, some exposure to the things that go with head coaching, such as working with the officials, handling the media post-game, etc., so it would not surprise me if they did that," he wrote Monday. "George Blaney and Glen Miller would be right next to him to help. Even if they don't do that officially, they could divide responsibilities differently than they have in the past. Not sure, but as we get closer to Dec. 28, it will be an interesting topic of discussion."
And that sounds about right. In fact, when Calhoun hired Ollie, there was some speculation that he might be the Huskies next coach whenever that time came. Who knows how much truth there is to that, but it makes sense to give Ollie a trial run for three games later this year.
Whether any success Ollie might have hastens Calhoun's decision to retire is another issue entirely. We've said it before but Calhoun doesn't strike us as the type of guy who would be happy to sit around the kitchen table drinking coffee and reading the paper before taking in a leisurely round of golf. That's a nice way to spend the summer but even at 69, he doesn't seem ready for that lifestyle full time. He is, after all, a basketball coach.