Replacing a Legend: Promote from within or hire outside?

Jim Calhoun told Sports Illustrated Wednesday that he’ll likely have “something to say” regarding his future within two weeks.

If you haven’t seen the piece, you should definitely check it out. It’s an interesting read. Calhoun opens up, and you sense from the story’s tone that he may be leaning towards retirement.

In today’s Connecticut Post, I detail the coaching situation at UConn: How has Warde Manuel’s refusal to name a “coach in waiting” affected recruiting? What will Manuel do when time comes to select a new coach, not “coach in waiting”?

Let’s  examine some similar situations in recent years.

Dean Smith (AP)


Retirement: Smith, the all-time winningest coach in NCAA history, unexpectedly retired on Oct. 9, 1997.

Coach in waiting: None

Successor: Bill Guthridge, Smith’s long-time assistant. Guthridge took the ‘Heels to two Final Fours in three seasons before retiring in 2000. He was replaced by Matt Doherty, a former player.


Retirement: After 34 years at Florida State, Bowden announced his retirement on Dec. 1, 2009. According to an ESPN report, Bowden was given two options: “return to FSU in 2010 as an ambassador to the program, in which he would have little input in the day-to-day operations of the program; or retire after the Seminoles’ upcoming bowl game.”

Coach in waiting: Jimbo Fisher had been tabbed as FSU’s next coach since 2007.

Successor: Fisher, who had never been a head coach prior to the promotion, has gone 20-8 since taking the job. The ‘Noles are considered a national title contender this season.


Retirement: Due to health reasons, Olson stepped aside in late October, 2008. He walked away with 780 career wins and a national title in 1997.

Coach in waiting: It was agreed upon in December, 2007 that assistant Kevin O’Neill, the acting head coach at the time, would replace Olson following his retirement. O’Neill coached through the entire 2007 season (Olson was out with a medical condition) but was not retained on staff when Olson announced plans to return for 2008-09. Of course, he never did, and Arizona AD Jim Livengood had to turn elsewhere.

Successor: Assistant Russ Pennell was tabbed as the interim coach for one year while Livengood conducted a national search. Pennell led the Wildcats to the Sweet 16, but was not retained. Xavier coach Sean Miller accepted the job on April 6, 2009.


Retirement: Summit coached her first game when she was 22 years old. Thirty eight years  and eight national titles later, she stepped aside and assumed a role as “head coach emeritus.”

Coach in waiting: None

Successor: Holly Warlick, an assistant for 27 years, has assumed head coaching duties. Summit is still around the program in some capacity.


Retirement: A staple in Lincoln from 1964-1997, Osborne retired from his head coaching position. He won three national titles in his quarter-century as the head man.

Coach in waiting: Kind of. Osborne was given the power to hand-pick his successor, and he chose Frank Solich, a longtime assistant and running backs coach.

Successor: Solich went 58-19 in his tenure at Nebraska and 9-3 in his final season. He was fired by then-athletic director Steve Pederson, who chose Bill Callahan as a replacement. Osborne was later hired as the athletic director, and he axed Callahan after a few disappointing seasons.

John Chaney (AP)


Retirement: Temple wasn’t quite a national power, but the Owls were under Chaney’s instruction for 24 years. He guided them to 17 NCAA tournament appearances before retiring in March 2006 at age 74.

Coach in waiting: None

Successor: Fran Dunphy was plucked from Penn after a month-long search and he’s been at Temple ever since. Dunphy has led the Owls to the Big Dance five consecutive times.


Retirement: Williams coached Maryland, his alma mater, for 22 years before stepping down, citing a diminished “drive and fire,” according to an ESPN report.

Coach in waiting: None

Successor: Williams retired in early May, giving the University plenty of time to search for his replacement. It only took five days for the Terps to hire Texas A&M’s Mark Turgeon.


Retirement: The Badgers’ football coach announced in early August 2005 that he would step down following the upcoming season — his 16th — to focus on his job as the school’s athletic director (he was hired in 2004).

Coach in waiting: Since he was also the AD, there wasn’t much debate here. Alvarez, 58, announced that defensive coordinator Bret Bielema would take over in 2006.

Successor: It’s worked out pretty well. Bielema is still at the helm. He’s led Wisconsin to the Rose Bowl each of the past two years.