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Jim Calhoun, UConn’s legendary coach, could un-retire to lead a new Division III team

This move would be unusual, but maybe it’d also be cool.

Villanova v UConn Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Jim Calhoun is one of the more successful coaches in college basketball history. After making Northeastern into an NCAA tournament mainstay in the 1980s, Calhoun took over at Connecticut and led the Huskies to four Final Fours and three national titles during a 26-year reign. He’s coached 1,259 games in total and won 70 percent.

Calhoun’s been out of coaching since he retired in 2012. The 75-year-old might be back on the sidelines soon, and in a weird place: At a Division III school that, as of this writing, doesn’t even have a men’s basketball program.

The Hartford Courant cites sources who say Calhoun has had “serious discussions” about becoming the coach at the University of St. Joseph in West Hartford, Conn.

That’s not St. Joseph’s University, the Philadelphia school that produced Jameer Nelson and Delonte West and almost went undefeated in 2004. This is St. Joseph (non-possessive), which is starting up its men’s hoops team in DIII in 2018.

Calhoun told the Courant:

I've got a couple of other things in the works, one involving basketball which I'm intrigued by. It's coaching.

And the school added:

"We will let coaches comments stand on their own," said Rhona Free, president of St. Joseph's, in a statement released by a school spokesperson. "While we certainly can't think of a better person to inaugurate the University of St. Joseph's first-ever men's basketball team, right now we have nothing to announce."

So, St. Joseph wants Calhoun. If Calhoun wants St. Joseph, this thing is probably happening. What?

A Division I national championship coach landing in DIII would be wild.

College basketball is a massive entity, and it’s usually a bad idea to say there’s no parallel to a current event. It turns out — despite my doubts initially — that there’s a pretty good one in former Villanova coach Rollie Massimino.

The 1985 national champion last coached Division I ball in 2003. In 2006, he became the first head coach of a new program at Northwood in Florida, which would eventually become an NAIA power. That school’s now called Keiser, and Massimino is still coaching in his 80s. (Hat tip to Kyle Keiderling, who emailed to point Massimino’s story out.)

Another one: ex-USC coach Bob Boyd, who had a long run at USC and later wound up at Chapman, a little DIII school in California. (Hat tip to reader Chuck Thomas.)

Still, it’s rare to do what Calhoun’s trying, or anything like it.

Steve Fisher won a national title at Michigan in 1989, and after a stint as an NBA assistant, he landed for 18 years as the head man at San Diego State. But the Mountain West isn’t Division III, and the SDSU program wasn’t a brand-new enterprise. Plenty of title-winning and Final Four coaches have burned out later on, but that this is a nascent program all the way down in DIII makes it quite unique.

Anyway, I hope this happens.

I don’t know if it’d be just a passion project of Calhoun’s or if he’s really burning to get back to coaching after years of working in TV. But seeing how an old legend like Calhoun fares in a college hoops Petri dish would be so interesting.