HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — On Friday morning, ESPN’s Jeff Goodman reported that Jim Calhoun, the revered former head coach of UConn men’s basketball, had “significant interest” in taking over the vacant coaching job at Boston College, a former Big East rival.
Goodman said “multiple sources” backed that the hall of famer was interested in the position.
Word spread quickly. Possibly stoking the fire was a quote in an online article on The Hartford Courant. Though Calhoun told the paper he wasn’t actively speaking to any school, he added, “I never say never, but I’m not trying to get a job.”
Goodman wrote that Calhoun declined to talk specifically about BC, but didn’t rule out returning to the sidelines. “I would not be opposed to talking to anyone about basketball,” Calhoun reportedly told ESPN.
As the current UConn team prepares for a postseason date Saturday night against Villanova, we asked fans what they thought of the rumors circling about the old coach.
We went to Black Bear Saloon, a Hartford restaurant that used to be associated with Calhoun when it was called Coach’s Sports Bar & Grille.
“As a rivalry school, that is tough to accept,” said Michael Mix of Canton. “But, you know, it’s in his blood.”
Calhoun, 71, retired from coaching in August 2012 after suffering a broken hip in a bicycle accident. The Braintree, Mass. native coached UConn for 26 years, amassing 625 wins for a program that wasn’t close to relevancy before he came on.
“He came into UConn where no one ever went to the games and they were playing in an old fieldhouse,” said Hartford resident Mike Evans. “They won three championships (in 1999, 2004 and 2011). He is one of the greatest coaches in the history of college basketball.”
TIMELINE: How Jim Calhoun made UConn relevant
But can the man who admittedly retired for health reasons — he’s also a three-time cancer survivor — make a return to the high-pressure occupation of Division I college basketball coach?
“They would be taking a gamble,” said Jean Mix of Canton. “It would be maybe a limited time that he would be with them, not a long run, but if he gets in there for a couple years and makes a difference, it could be all they need.”
It’s been reported that the fiery coach misses the competition. And the Boston area could be a good match. Calhoun spent the first 14 years of his coaching career at Northeastern University in Boston.
MORE: Analysis of the rumored move from sports director Noah Finz included in video above