UConn basketball coach Jim Calhoun last weekend showed himself once again to be a bully of the worst kind. Not surprisingly, the school and the media covering Husky hoops sent the same old message they have for years—as long as he wins, he can do no wrong. It’s pathetic. And anyone paying taxes in the state, and more directly, those who pay a fortune for honor of witnessing this guy’s tired act, should be outraged.
At the end of a losing effort against Rutgers, Calhoun made intentional, physical contact with his player—some sort of poking or pulling—while in full rage after the freshman (that’s right, freshman) made a mistake. The incident would not be cause for concern, in and of itself. But this is a part of disturbing pattern. Calhoun proves himself to be a loud-mouthed lout —from turning the air blue behind the bench to cheating in recruiting—and those you would expect to have something to say about it (school officials and the media)—simply bow to King James. Just win, baby.
The Hartford Courant’s fine sportswriter Jeff Jacobs came the closest to criticizing Calhoun for his thuggish actions and that wasn’t very close. Jacobs felt the need to first tell readers that Calhoun’s aggression is sometimes helpful and that his ejection from a subsequent game Monday was likely the reason for a UConn comeback. And that, dear readers, is why he is a Hall of Fame coach. Jacobs then dissected Calhoun’s actions in the Rutgers game like it was the Kennedy assassination. You don’t have to be a Czar of the Telestrater to see that Calhoun went after his player with fury in his eyes and his fist clenched, making contact. Jacobs did opine that Calhoun really shouldn’t jab his players in the chest because it might lead to other bad things, like the player giving Calhoun what he has coming (maybe that would stop the big brute from doing it).
Even more disturbing was Calhoun’s statement about the incident given to the Courant. I’d like to call it an apology but I don’t like to lie. “I’m sorry if people misconstrued my interaction with DeAndre Daniels, which was made in an effort to get his attention in the final minutes of the Rutgers game…DeAndre and I have spoken about it.”
That’s right, fans. It wasn’t Calhoun acting as a tyrant that is the problem. It’s you, the fans, who don’t how to construe what you saw. And for that, he’s sorry. Who you gonna believe, Coach Cal or your lyin’ eyes?
So what did UConn have to say about Calhoun’s latest imperious behavior? Nothing. But we shouldn’t be surprised by that. This is the same publically funded school, same sports program that in May of 2010, gave Calhoun a sparkling, new $13 million contract just as the NCAA was whacking the program with sanctions for cheating in recruiting.
The Courant’s Jacobs was sure to point out that Calhoun’s actions are not Bobby Knight choking his player or Woody Hayes slugging an opposing football player. Pretty low bar, don’t you think?