BUFFALO, N.Y. – This is the first time in 35 years the Huskies are playing in the NCAA Tournament without Jim Calhoun on their sideline. But that has not stopped the retired coach from attracting attention.
ESPN reported Friday that "multiple sources" said Calhoun "has significant interest" in the vacant head coaching position at Boston College. Yahoo! Sports, meanwhile, reported interest between Calhoun and BC "was not mutual."
Imminent or far-fetched, talk of a Calhoun comeback was buzzing at First Niagara Center as UConn practiced and prepared for its third-round game against Villanova Saturday at about 9:45 p.m. And he was not saying anything to squash the talk.
Calhoun, who is in Buffalo, told The Courant by phone, "I have not talked to any other school and I'm not planning to talk to any other school. I never say never, but I'm not trying to get a job."
Calhoun also repeated Friday what he told ESPN, that he would "talk to anyone about basketball."
When The Courant asked Calhoun Wednesday if he had interest in the job, the Hall of Fame coach smiled, shook his head and laughed.
He is from Braintree, Mass., coached at Northeastern from 1972-86 and has always had a rivalry of sorts with Boston College. When BC left the Big East for the Atlantic Coast Conference, Calhoun vowed he would never play them again and UConn did not schedule the Eagles during his remaining years.
Calhoun, who had health issues when he retired Sept. 13, 2012, looks healthier and said he feels much better. Friends said he would not have retired if he were this healthy 18 months ago, but his hiatus from the stress of coaching might be part of the reason for his improved health. He turns 72 in May.
"I think he's healthy now, from talking to him," said Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, a long-time friend and rival. "He's got more energy than any young guy I know. I have no doubt he could come back and do this, no doubt at all.
"Every coach I've ever talked to misses it, that's why I'm going to wait until I'm sure I won't miss it."
Boeheim is 69.
Calhoun still works at UConn as an adviser to AD Warde Manuel, making speaking appearances and helping as a fund raiser. Calhoun was paid $1.48 million for his role at UConn in fiscal year 2013, the school said. The majority of that came from a $1.15 payment for media services that was in his coaching contract and remained in his transition agreement. The balance is base salary money both from his coaching position and his current position on a pro-rated amount. His base salary is $300,000 annually. Last fall UConn renamed the road outside Gampel Pavilion Jim Calhoun Way.
He took a long vacation to Mexico and the Caribbean in January and February, but has been visible since returning, attending road games at Louisville, Memphis and Buffalo this month.
"I know he's enjoying his vacations he is taking in January playing golf," said Kevin Ollie, who took over for Calhoun. "I don't know if he wants to pass up on those. But if he wants to get back in the game, more power to him. He's earned that right, he's earned that respect. Whatever he wants to do he has my prayers and best wishes. I'm always going to support Coach."
During the AAC tournament in Memphis, Calhoun told ESPN he'd "answer the phone" if someone called, which began speculation that a comeback was on his mind. Larry Brown, 73, returned to coaching about the time Calhoun retired and turned around the program at Southern Methodist. Calhoun has told friends that if he were to coach again, he would have to have an experienced No. 2 man, presumably as a designated successor.
"He has so much to give," UConn senior Shabazz Napier said. "He's a talented man on and off the court. If he does [come back], wherever he goes, I'm going to be a fan of that team."
Calhoun has an overall college record of 873-380 and is one of eight Division I coaches with 800 wins. He went 625-243 at UConn and won national championships in 1999, 2004 and 2011.
Boston College fired Steve Donahue earlier in the week after he went 54-76 in four seasons. The Eagles were 8-24 this past season and 4-14 in the ACC.
Napier was asked about the chemistry he has with Ryan Boatright because they have had occasional arguments on the court. "Always ups and downs, " Napier said. "You see us arguing and you think it's a big thing but it's just a bump in the road. We understand we need each other to win, and I wouldn't want to be on anyone else's team but his." … Ollie on playing Villanova after St. Joe's: "I feel like I'm in the Big Five. I guess La Salle is next?" … UConn's overtime win against St. Joe's was its third in NCAA history against four losses. … Ollie was passed for third place by Napier on UConn's assist list. "That's my last hurrah in the media guide," Ollie said. "They only remember first, second and third." … Boeheim is tiring of Big East questions. "You don't ask questions about someone's ex-wife, do you?" he said.Copyright © 2015, CT Now