anyone who knows me knows that i love college hoops, and that i realize that it is a business disguised as amateurism. i get that. but there's still some faint semblance of the college spirit to it - and that emanates from the college experience. of course, whether the athletes go to class might be a joke, but i knew a fair share of students who didn't go to class either.
uconn basketball has seen fantastic success in the years that coach jim calhoun has led the team. with his success has come a firestorm of, well, criticism about his "style". from the unsavory recruitment of caron butler to the allowing of marcus williams back on the team after he stole laptops, among many other transgressions, he hasn't exactly carved out a clean reputation.
i just feel that coaches at top institutions can make a statement with the team they coach. meaning, how do we build a program that people can be proud about? how do we win and do things right? how do we make this more about winning? for example, bill self kicked j.j. gittens out after a brawl in lawrence, even though he was an important player. duke always sticks and works with disappointing players as they become better and useful players in their later years at the school. hell, you never hear anything bad about roy williams or ben howland. nothing.
but calhoun's not alone. bobby bowden from florida state continually looks the other way as he recruits questionable people as student-athletes and gives them slight punishment when they do wrong. he should do better because he could do better. that's disappointing to me.
unfortunately, the list of coaches like bowden goes on and on.
the past year, however, calhoun's upped his ante.
there's a certain number of unwritten rules that coaches and players abide to. one is don't recruit a player that's already given a verbal to another school. when connecticut high school player doug wiggins verbaled to st. john's, he began to blow up nationally. before you knew it, there was calhoun, accidentally "bumping into" a player in his own backyard and weeks later, wiggins reneged, revising his story about how he began talking to the huskies and quickly signed with uconn. this wasn't the first time something like this happened and it'll happen again. doesn't make it right.
fine. dirty, but fine.
when a high school athlete signs with a program and a coach, he actually signs a series of one-year scholarships. it's up to the coach and the player to figure out what's right each year. normally, a player will transfer due to a lack of playing time. or a coach will revoke a scholarship due to a series of behavioral transgressions. is that an unwritten rule? yeah. as a coach, you make a commitment to the kid, and he makes a commitment to you. you're building players and human beings.
here's coach calhoun at courant.com, after his team came off a disappointing season:
"There are some guys on our team who could have very successful careers maybe at a different level," Calhoun said. "They're young and this would be a good time for them to at least think about what their future is, and I'll be very honest with each and every one of them."
allow me to translate: this team sucked. i need to fix it. so i'm trimming the fat. sucks to be them. i'll be honest and tell them they ain't gonna play, and i'll make it miserable for them to stay. hell, i made a mistake and probably shouldn't have recruited them in the first place. i should have saved some scholarships for this year. so i'll let them take the brunt of it. it's not my fault some of them sucked. i could tell them how to get better, but screw that. i need their scholarship now.
Calhoun told Rob Garrison after last season that his chances to play were probably limited. "Rob said, `I want to stay,'" Calhoun said. "He put on 10 pounds. It just wasn't good enough [to play]. But he's a good basketball player and should have a successful career someplace. I'm not saying Rob Garrison is leaving. I'm only telling you ... there will be those situations."
translation: oh, you want to stay here? you like it here? you're gonna work extra hard to play? well, piss off. and don't let the door hit you on your incompetent ass on the way out.
ethical? very questionable.
just some more classy stuff from a classy coach of a classy program.
at least he was open about it.