- 2016 Elections
- Special Reports
- Maps & Data
- Dear Abby
- Games & Puzzles
- Events & Exhibits
- Food & Drink
- Arts & Music
- Movies & TV
And so the Jim Calhoun Victory Tour rolled on earlier this week through Middlesex County, where he addressed the Chamber of Commerce. It was after the festivities that Warde Manuel, UConn's athletic director, was asked about "the talk" of possibly naming the new basketball practice facility after Calhoun.
Manuel said it was more likely the building would be named after a donor or company that contributes a large sum of money toward its completion.
You'll pardon me, however, if the mere speculation of this forces me to lose my usually sunny disposition.
Who, exactly, is the genesis of such speculation to the media? A thoughtless sap? Bootlicker? Maybe a member of the Calhoun Camp. You know: Throw it out there with plausible deniability and see what sticks.
This just in: It cannot stick. Not now, not ever. Because if you name the new building after Calhoun, what does that make Geno Auriemma?
A more cynical fellow might point out that Auriemma has made more Final Fours, won more national championships, is as equally famous throughout the state and has turned his once obscure sport into a part of our culture.
What, that's not a legacy every bit as significant as Calhoun's?
And yet it would be just as absurd to suggest the building be named after just Auriemma.
Whether they can stomach each other — and they can't, despite the occasional happy faces in public — is irrelevant. Their legacies are woven. They are a duet. More like "You Don't Bring Me Flowers," sure. But a duet nonetheless.
But it's just this kind of speculation, whether thoughtless or coldly calculated, that divides the athletic department, as if someone brought over a souvenir slice of the Berlin Wall and built it down the middle.
And for what?
No, really. Answer that one: for what?
So Calhoun can continue to bask?
To one-up Auriemma?
Seems to me that Calhoun's time in the spotlight is over. He's not the coach anymore. The rubber chicken circuit isn't the same as Saturday night in the Garden. This is a Kevin Ollie Production now.
My fear is that the media in our state is going to run back to Calhoun for a comment on every development within the men's program, much the way Yankee beat writers used to stake out George Steinbrenner.
Why? Because that's what Calhoun wants. And he gets what he wants. The scorecard in the last month: He retired to a hero's sendoff. He named his successor. He's being paid $2,742,307 NOT to coach. What's next? Naming Interstate 84 after him?
Former athletic director Jeff Hathaway's departure helped make the athletic department a happier place. Hathaway was a nice enough man. But he was a micromanager with bad communication skills. Calhoun's departure will add more harmony by eliminating a level of toxicity that never needed to exist in the first place.
I was never a fan of the way Calhoun treated people, although I admit to being entertained by his sarcasm. He got away with it because he won. At least now I won't have to watch it anymore. Or care.
I'm not suggesting Auriemma has been Mr. Innocent throughout all this. But Auriemma's angst has always been reactive, not proactive. There's a difference. Because do you know what's proactive? Showing Auriemma dizzying levels of disrespect by "speculating" to the media that the new building should be named after Calhoun.
I can't stand it.
I'm not denying Calhoun's significance to state sports history. It's just his bad luck that he has to share the spotlight with a fellow Hall of Famer. That's right. Geno's in the Big Hall, too.
Which is what makes such "speculation" a kick in the asphalt to someone who deserves better.
This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.