As Tom Cruise said when looking around for some companionship in the movie Top Gun, the wacky world of sports in New England and beyond offers a “target rich environment”.
Wonder what former Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun is doing to stay busy these days as he morphs into retirement as a Hall of Fame basketball coach? How about a television personality? We’re not talking a Dickie V type basketball analyst, although Calhoun is talking to ESPN about doing some work during the season. How about part of a new show on the increasingly popular Golf Channel called The Back Nine where you would hear Jim Calhoun talking about golf, Jim Calhoun talking about basketball, Jim Calhoun talking about life?
The show would be based in Hartford and have many features and segments with Calhoun playing a major role both in studio and at various golf resorts around the world. How about Calhoun and former President Bill Clinton playing a round of golf together? With backers which include Clint Eastwood and former Husky, Celtic and current Miami Heat star Ray Allen a start-up date sometime early next year is both possible and likely. Calhoun also is thinking about writing a book about how the game of college basketball has changed over the last several years. At the age of 70, Calhoun still has the fire in his belly to do more than ride his bike and play golf. A television outlet involving golf and basketball would seem to be perfect fit.
As the college world waits for the Atlantic Coast Conference to make its next move after the defection of Maryland to the Big Ten, the Big East is also contemplating taking a proactive stance in its configuration as it worries whether Louisville, UConn, Cincinnati or South Florida will be next up in terms of leaving. But where can the Big East go that would create more than a ripple. BYU would be the headline grabber, but BYU officials have shown no inclination to move out of their independent status? East Carolina? UMass? Those are hardly head-line grabbers.
Boston College athletic director Brad Bates will now speed up the process of finding a new football coach now that he has fired Frank Spaziani. Bates has a three-tiered list, starting with candidates probably wouldn’t come to BC, but who would fit into the profile that Bates want.
For now, we will start with the A list
1. Penn State coach Bill O’Brien. O’Brien did a great job in his first year at Penn State. The NFL is already sniffing around. Strong New England ties with many family members in Boston Area. The problem may be financial. To get Bates to leave Happy Valley after 1 season will require a graduated buyout starting at $9.2 million. That should take care of that in terms of BC.
2. Al Golden, Miami–Hard to gauge. Ostensibly committed to Canes, who are in the middle of an NCAA probe which Golden had nothing to do with. AD who hired him is gone. Sanctions may be tough. Golden knows BC, having spent three seasons as Tom O’Brien’s linebacker coach from 1997 to 1999.
Much depends on what happens with the NCAA and Miami won’t know until spring. Golden sounds committed to the Canes with a long-term contract, which means buyout. Iffy as well for BC.
3. Dan Mullen, Mississippi State. Came out of New Hampshire along with Chip Kelly and former BC assistant Ryan Day. Does he want to come back to New England, leave the high-powered SEC but does he fit the BC profile? Probably not. Word has it that NCAA is also sniffing around which would be a deal breaker at BC.
Another possibility could be Cincinnati coach Butch Jones, who has done a nice job replacing Brian Kelly with the Bearcats. The Bearcats have been a perennial Big East contender. Key here could be the ACC. If the Bearcats are included in the ACC expansion plans, Jones will stay put. If Cincinnati does not make the cut and is left dangling, that could change the dynamics and Jones could be a player. Has Michigan roots which could mean a connection to Bates.
Spaziani has spent the past few days in meetings with his staff and his now former players. Even though the news of his firing was hardly a shock, it still hurts, especially effecting Spaziani’s three teenage children, all who have known nothing else in their lives but a connection with BC football. Spaziani said his immediate concern is getting them adjusted to his new status…If Tom O’Brien, who was also fired on Sunday at NC State, wants to coach again at a program which needs some tender loving care to get back to a competitive state, he might consider–and they should consider–Colorado, which has a history rich program is in a power conference and a great city in Boulder.
© 2012, Mark. All rights reserved.