When Should Coach Retire? Weep On It/Think On It/Sleep On It/Drink On It
When is the proper time to leave via retirement for a legend such as Connecticut's Jim Calhoun? There are no hard-and-fast rules and discerning the right sequence to step aside is more elusive than one might think.
But what's patently clear is not every coach can depart like luminaries John Wooden, Al McGuire, Ray Meyer and Dean Smith when they bowed out in style. From 1964 to 1975 with Wooden at the helm, UCLA won an NCAA-record 10 national titles, including seven straight from 1967 through 1973. McGuire's goodbye in 1977 with an NCAA title marked Marquette's eighth straight season finishing among the Top 10 in a final wire-service poll. Meyer directed DePaul to a Top 6 finish in a final wire-service poll six times in his final seven seasons from 1978 through 1984. Smith won at least 28 games with North Carolina in four of his final five seasons from 1992-93 through 1996-97.
But those fond farewells are the exception, not the rule, in trying to cope with Father Time. How many school all-time winningest mentors such as Charlie Coles with Miami (OH) this past year rode off into the sunset donning at least a partial black rather than white hat? How much they may have tarnished their legacy is debatable but hanging around too long probably caused a few of the following celebrated coaches to lose some of their luster:
Denny Crum, Louisville - breakeven mark last four seasons while winless in national postseason play after missing national postseason competition only twice in his first 26 campaigns from 1972 through 1997
Doggie Julian, Dartmouth - seven straight losing campaigns with fewer than eight victories after five consecutive first- or second-place finishes in the Ivy League with three NCAA playoff appearances from 1955-56 through 1959- 60
Speedy Morris, La Salle - 47 games below .500 his final six campaigns from 1995-96 through 2000-01 after appearing in national postseason competition each of his first six seasons from 1987 through 1992