Jim Calhoun's 7 Memorable Media Moments
Jim Calhoun is a polarizing figure in the college basketball landscape.
Some find his in-your-face approach offensive and unnecessary. They say his language is too foul, he is too mean and he yells at his players too much.
Others admire the fact that he expects the most out of his players and speaks his mind to the media.
Unlike Coach K, Calhoun is not interested in playing the media politics game with carefully crafted statements that paint him and his program in the best possible light. Calhoun doesn't give cliches. If you ask him a dumb question, he will give you a fitting answer.
In over a quarter century at UConn, Calhoun has provided countless memorable media moments and exchanges, many of which are unfit for print. If he had his way, I'm pretty sure Calhoun wouldn't have to waste his time listening to reporters ask obvious questions about the game everyone just watched, or -foreshadow alert- his salary.
If you are a Calhoun hater, be warned that the following countdown will only infuriate you more.
If you are a Calhoun fan, then you'll probably get a few laughs.
Here are seven memorable Jim Calhoun media moments (that won't get me banned from the site):
7. Jason Page Doesn't Get the Answer We Was Looking for
[Fast forward to the 7:20 mark for the exchange]
At the time of this little dust-up, Jason Page was a sports radio host on a local ESPNRadio affiliate in Connecticut.
It's difficult to make out in the video, but Page's "question" (more of a statement disguised as a question) was meant to imply that maybe Calhoun was not getting through to his underperforming team and should consider changing his methods.
Calhoun got the hint and fired back with some thinly veiled sarcasm of his own.
Page was a sensitive soul and was unable to mend his hurt feelings after receiving a (relatively mild) dosage of Calhoun-heat. Page spent the last few months of his Connecticut tenure bashing Calhoun at every opportunity.
Perhaps if Page tried using a new method in getting through to his listeners, ESPN would have renewed his contract.
6. Observations on Demographics of Lady Huskies Fans
What happens when two type-A alpha dogs are forced to share gym time? Sarcastic jabs, of course.
It's a poorly-kept secret that Calhoun and UConn women's coach Geno Auriemma don't carpool to campus together. The details of the rocky relationship, however, are not as easily accessible.
Every so often, an "inside source" will have a soundbite or insight into how the two Hall of Fame coaches became loathing office-mates.
Take this not-so-subtle swipe by Calhoun, for example: The context of the comment is uncertain, but Calhoun observed, out loud unfortunately, that the crowd at a UConn women's game looks like "a day care center or senior citizens home." Whoops.
True as it may be, that's one of those thoughts that's better off left in our heads, coach.
5. Who Needs Ribs?
This isn't necessarily a "memorable media moment," but it's the perfect story to capture just who Jim Calhoun is. And it was covered by the media, so technically, I'm not breaking my own rules.
Every summer, Jim Calhoun hosts a charity bike ride benefiting the cancer center at the UConn Health Center. And every summer, Calhoun pedals in that charity bike ride.
In 2009, the 67-year-old Calhoun was 34 miles into the 50-mile event when he fell over the handlebars and broke eight ribs. Like any man his age with eight broken ribs, he was transported to the hospital and spent the night recovering before heading home.
Just kidding—he got back on his bike and finished the last 16 miles of the race.
After finishing the race, Calhoun spoke to reporters before collapsing against a car. He spent the night in the hospital and was back on his bike a few weeks later.
In related news, 28-year-old Chris Bosh has missed the last month of the NBA playoffs with an abdominal strain.
4. It Takes a Real Man to Admit His Mistakes
Jim Calhoun missed out on Ryan Gomes. He is well aware of that.
Throughout Gomes standout career at Big East counterpart Providence, Calhoun endured the never-ending onslaught of questions on how he let Connecticut native Gomes slip through his fingers.
After three plus years answering the question, Calhoun had had enough, to put it lightly.
After Providence, led by Gomes' double-double, upset then-No. 6 UConn, an intrepid local reporter decided it was his turn to lob the Gomes Bomb at Coach Calhoun. Probably not the best idea he's ever had.
Feeling a little extra testy after the loss, Calhoun was in no mood to kindly discuss how he made a mistake in not recruiting Gomes, although National Player of the Year Emeka Okafor and All-American Caron Butler were decent consolation prizes.
The video is slightly NSFW, and by slightly I mean very very, so click at your peril. Just make sure your earbuds are plugged all the way in.
3. Calipari and Clam Chowder
Jim Calhoun is a New England guy through and through. He was born and raised in Boston. He has spent his entire coaching career in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Calhoun can confidently claim his New England roots.
Pittsburgh native John Calipari on the other hand...not so much.
So when Calipari (then the Head Coach at UMass) took to the airwaves to publicly goad Calhoun for ending the UConn-UMass annual matchup by claiming the game would be "good for New England basketball," Calhoun was quick to challenge Calipari's credentials as an expert on all things New England.
When asked about Calipari's media games, Calhoun referred to Calipari as "Johnny Clam Chowder," with special emphasis on enunciating the -er. Who said sarcasm isn't the easiest way to make your point?
Fifteen years later, Jimmy C. and Johnny Clams are yet to settle their feud over a bowl of New England's finest. I'll bring the oyster crackers
2. Pre-Game Sightseeing
This is actually my favorite Jim Calhoun quote, but it's a lesser-known gem, so it falls a spot on the list.
A little background information:
1. The Mark Twain House in Hartford, CT is exactly what it sounds like—the former home of Mark Twain. The house now serves as a local tourist attraction and museum for middle schoolers and American Literature connoisseurs.
(Mark Twain slept facing his headboard because he felt that if he spent so much money on the thing, he should at least get to look at it. See, Mrs. Ware? I was paying attention)
2. In the 1990's, Calhoun had a, shall we say, tempestuous relationship with Randy Smith, a sportswriter for a small local newspaper.
Smith frequently commented on his on-again, off-again relationship with Calhoun. After UConn won their first title in 1999, Smith shared one of his favorite stories for a Sports Illustrated feature on Calhoun:
"He's just the best adversary in the world," Randy Smith, columnist for the Manchester (Conn.) Journal-Enquirer, says. "I've gone up against him maybe 24 times, and I'm 0-24, but they've all been great. He takes the team to Hawaii one year. I notice that the team doesn't visit the USS Arizona, the war memorial. I write a column about how they should have gone—if going to Hawaii was supposed to be an educational experience, they should have seen this important landmark. I wait. Two weeks later, the Hartford Civic Center, before a game. Calhoun's going up an escalator. I'm on the ground floor. He yells, 'Hey, Randy! You think we should have gone to the g-----n Mark Twain House this afternoon?' It was beautiful."
Want to know how to tell if you've dropped a good one-liner? When the recipient of your shot admires its beauty. That's how.
1. Get Some Facts
The most famous of Calhoun's media knockouts came at the expense of "freelance writer and political activist" Ken Krayeske.
Krayeske weaseled his way into a post-game press conference and tried to make a political statement by challenging Calhoun on his $1.6 million salary in the midst of the state's financial problems. He even managed to take a swing at all the writers in the room while plopping himself on the moral high horse in one fell swoop. Because clearly, "if these guys covered this stuff, (Krayeske) wouldn't have to."
The poor little guy clearly did not do his research on his intended target. Krayeske was stripped down and exposed by Calhoun.
Some people argue that Calhoun handled this confrontation poorly. I say he showed incredible restraint. A basketball press conference is not the place to make your political statements. And Jim Calhoun is not the guy to try to turn into a political pawn.
Calhoun generously offered to meet Krayeske outside after the presser to discuss the matter further. Something in me doubts Krayeske took Calhoun up on that offer