Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Calgoon threatens reporter

Connecticut's head coach Jim Calhoun now apparently feels like he can lecture and bully the local media into reporting only what he wants. The latest from Calhoun, who seems to have gotten his lessons on free speech from the Taliban, is that Hartford Courant columnist Jeff Jacobs should not have gone on WFAN's "Mike and the Mad Dog" radio show to discuss the suspension of AJ Price and Marcus Williams for stealing laptops and trying to fence the stolen items.

You can listen to Jacobs recent interview here.

Jacobs reiterated his position that it made no sense that Williams was not also suspended for the season for his role in the laptop theft. He also referenced a claim by former coach Jerry Tarkanian that a UConn assistant told a recruit that Tarkanian was dying of cancer. In talking to reporters after Jacobs gave his interview on WFAN Calhoun said, "If he has enough [testicles] to come up, he better come up with a couple of armed guards, talking about malignant cancer." This was Calhoun trying to cast himself as the victim while acting like a bully.

Jacobs also contended that the Calhoun circle had whispered at various times that he was homosexual and racist. If you're going to do a hatchet job in sports those are two pretty good allegations to make, are they not? The sports information director, also known as "media sycophant", for UConn also said that Jacobs wasn't "qualified" to discuss the incident since he'd been off reporting on other things. Clearly the qualifications for speaking on the issue seem to begin and end with whether you work for Jim Calhoun.

It isn't surprising that Calhoun would start to feel he was above reproach sitting up in Storrs. After all he has won two national titles and over 700 games in his career. Whatever the fans of UConn can crow about are things that Jimmy C-Note has given them. There are no local professional teams and Connecticut is a state without much of an identity beyond Huskies basketball. The sports fans in the state either cheer for a New York or Boston team. UConn is the only game in town and therefore doesn't get the critical treatment that it deserves. Once you've been given a free pass by the local media I guess any legitimate questions about how you run your program would put you right into Nixonian paranoia mode.

Calhoun runs one of the sleaziest programs in college basketball. There have been infamous cheaters who didn't apologize for the way they did things, like the aforementioned Tarkanian, but Calhoun is different. He runs a sort of Tammany Hall of college basketball. The facade looks fairly good but behind it lies a thoroughly rotten and corrupt structure. Those close to it are too invested in the success to question the methods required to achieve the spoils. Meanwhile Calhoun sits at the top like a Tammany Grand Sachem gaining wealth and power while becoming more and more untouchable. As time goes on he gets more brazen and willing to skirt the rules. He'll play a felon, pay an AAU coach's "traveling team" of playground scrubs $25,000, invite the friend of a bigtime recruit for an official visit when he wouldn't get offers from a Patriot League program, steal the recruit from another school after another recruit of questionable character leaves him high and dry.

Calhoun will do whatever he can get away with and then joke to the press about it. He wants everyone else to know he's getting away with it too. He'll steal a recruit from St John's and then make a joke about them not being able to round up their players to make a charter jet in time. Hey, that's just Jim being Jim. He's just making a joke, even if he's the only one who is laughing. Of course when he is questioned for not getting Connecticut native Ryan Gomes, who went on to have a dominating career at Providence, he doesn't find that funny. Instead he degenerated into a foaming-at-the-mouth profanity laced rant against the reporter who mentioned it. I guess that is the double standard of a cowardly bully and a phony Irish huckster.

No comments: