Why would a 76-year-old coach, who retired at the top of his game, return to the court six years later for a Division III school? After coaching the University of Connecticut to three NCAA men's basketball championships and earning a spot in the Basketball Hall of Fame, that's exactly what Jim Calhoun did, trading one of America's best-known programs for one just getting off the ground.
At his age, coach Calhoun may be limping but he's got the same intensity, the same favorite adjectives and still demonstrates the same passion that fueled UConn's climb to college basketball's elite two decades ago, reports CBS News correspondent Jim Axelrod. Now, he's using it at the 900-student University of St. Joseph.
Why? "I'm enjoying myself," Calhoun said. Turns out, retirement isn't for everyone.
"I thought that we'd be great. Me, my wife, sunset, golf clubs. Didn't quite work that way … there's something about basketball, the game itself. What the game meant to me and so many others, that I'm addicted. I mean, I'm an addict," he said.
The University of St. Joseph is a tiny Catholic University in West Hartford, Connecticut, that just became co-ed this year. Calhoun is building the men's basketball program from scratch. The gym is less than one-eighth the size of his old one at UConn – and crowds are counted in the hundreds, not the thousands.
"I love the mission they're on. Everything I've found about it, it's only strengthened my desire to – hopefully that basketball will be kind of like a semi-front porch for the university," Calhoun said.
They're calling it "the Calhoun effect." Since he got here, freshman applications increased by 83 percent. But if you expect to see some sort of satisfaction from Calhoun during practice, well, guess again.
"You know, he's approaching 80 … and it's just shocking how much energy he has," one player said.
To understand Calhoun's choices in the later chapters of his life, consider what sports meant to him during the early ones.
"My story is very simply the way my town took care of me, my coaches took care of me after my dad died when I was 15. It made an imprint upon me that never went away … and very simply, I think I could help kids in all kinds of similar situations that may need a push along the way," Calhoun said. "It's a hard blend. Really push, really pull. And then in a different sort of way show 'em your love, 'cause I do love my players."
After all these years, it's still hard to tell who gets more out of the deal – the players or the coach.
"The game is addictive. The people in the game are addictive … I am a lifer," he said.
So far Calhoun's team is seven and four. When we asked the biggest difference between coaching D-I and D-III, Calhoun told us it's his paycheck. He's had four cancer scares, but when he's on the court, it's clear he's back where he belongs and it's just what the doctor ordered.