We had the pleasure of interviewing someone who has a wealth of knowledge about UConn’s athletic history, because he’s studied it!
Clayton Trutor is a history professor and author of two sports books: Loserville: How Atlanta Remade Professional Sports (2022) and Boston Ball: Jim Calhoun, Rick Pitino, Gary Williams, and College Basketball’s Forgotten Cradle of Coaches (2023).
We briefly discussed his first book, but as you can imagine the bulk of our conversation was around Calhoun: the architect of the UConn men’s basketball dynasty and a very unlikely giant of the sport.
Trutor discussed how Calhoun officially accepted the Northeastern job in OCTOBER due to some highly unusual circumstances. The school was also readying to transition from Division II to Division I.
In 14 years at Northeastern, Calhoun became the winningest coach in program history, a mark he still holds, and made four NCAA Tournaments in seven years as a D1 program. During this time, he developed the on-court and recruiting strategies that would help him reach Hall-of-Fame heights after he got the UConn job in 1986.
It was also enjoyable to hear about the uniquely competitive environment around Calhoun in those days. While he was at Northeastern, Rick Pitino was at BU and Gary Williams was at Boston College before he took the Ohio State job in 1986. Trutor’s book examines the conditions that led to these three legendary careers.
I learned a ton from this conversation, about UConn, college basketball, and the history of the game. I hope you do too.