“We won’t play BC after they leave here. I have no desire to play Boston College…Not for the fact that they are leaving, but how they did it. I will not play Boston College as long as I’m here.”
Coaching for the University of Connecticut Huskies was not Jim Calhoun’s first choice. Of course, after being hired in 1986 he led the Huskies to dominance in the Big East conference and three national championships.
But where the Irish-Catholic Braintree native really wanted to be was at Boston College.
When Boston College was looking for a replacement for the then-inconsistent Gary Williams, the Board of Trustees narrowed down their coach candidates to two: Jim O’Brien and Jim Calhoun.
Jim Calhoun in fourteen years previously at Northeastern compiled a 248-137 record and NCAA tournament appearances in five of his last six seasons at the school. O’Brien in his past four seasons at St. Bonaventure in the Atlantic 10 was 67-51 with an appearance in the first round of the NIT tournament in the 1982-1983 season.
Who did Boston College decide to hire? Jim O’Brien based solely on the fact that he was a Boston College alumnus. O’Brien seemed clean (he later left because he couldn’t get athletes past admissions) and good for Boston College (he left Chestnut Hill with a 168-166 with only three NCAA appearances in eleven years).
This was most assuredly the worst decision in the history of Boston College Athletics where outdated patronage at the University excluded one of the greatest coaches in college basketball history.
Now Boston College has another shot at the one that got away. After the uneven tenure of O’Brien, the slight resurgence followed by the unceremonious firing of Al Skinner, and the disaster of Steve Donahue, ESPN’s Jeff Goodman reports that Jim Calhoun has “significant interest” in the job at Boston College. That report was supplemented by Yahoo reporting that “[the] interest isn’t mutual.”
Obviously, the story isn’t as simple as Calhoun retiring in 2012 and now wanting another stab at the profession. When Boston College left the Big East for the ACC, Calhoun made known his frustrations with the procedure Boston College took to get out the league. No matter what benefit the move to the ACC has had for Boston College, it cannot be argued by even the most fierce Boston College Superfan that former Athletic Director Gene DiFilippo’s methods weren’t slightly dirty and low.
Jim Calhoun’s age and health is another mitigating factor for the Boston College fanbase. Do you really want a 71 year old (72 in May) who had prostate cancer in 2003 and recently fractured his hip to take over a program? It seems like a hard question to answer, but the fact of the matter is that Calhoun has recovered from his health issues and seems able to coach.
The fact that Calhoun is old is not a detriment, but rather an indication that, just as he did at UConn with the now-successful Kevin Ollie, Calhoun would be grooming a successor. The 73 year old Larry Brown in just his second year at Southern Methodist University has turned around the AAC program and the Mustangs just barely missed the NCAA Tournament. There are also no complaints about Boston College signing the 68 year old hockey coach Jerry York with an extension through 2020, when he will be 75 years old.