"It had nothing to do with the women, trust me," Calhoun said at that point, trying to correct the impression he made with his Kansas City remarks. "Occasionally something gets misconstrued, or a hair gets out of place. But that does not mean that you're going bald. No one could be happier for [the women's] success."
"I never got it," Pat Calhoun says. "It became a media whatever. A women's issue. Jim's not a male chauvinist. I wouldn't be married to him if he were. Believe me. I walked in Washington for women's rights. I'm a member of NOW. So what if Jim and Geno aren't best friends?"
Auriemma kept quiet. He insisted that he had never said anything publicly that might harm the university and never would. He still says the same thing, although he is quick to defend his program and its fans. "I like our crowds," he says. "Who says you have to have that 18-to-35 male demographic, a bunch of drunks yelling in the next seats? What makes that crowd any better than our crowd? You come to our games, you have a nice, enjoyable day. Does there have to be a point spread on the game to make it enjoyable? I don't think so."
The controversy eventually dried up, overwhelmed by the women's perfect season and the men's trip to the Elite Eight, where they lost 102-96 to UCLA, the eventual NCAA champ. But the chill of "dynamic tension" remained. Why didn't Jim talk with Geno? Why didn't Geno talk with Jim? Men versus women. Women versus men. Why couldn't everybody just get along?
"I respect everything Geno's done," Calhoun says, cautious with his words. "I was there when no one was watching in the Field House. It's been magical, the way the crowds have come. I just don't want my program to be compared to Geno's. I want my team to be compared with Mike Krzyzewski's at Duke, to programs like that. Those are the ones we're competing against. Women's basketball is a different game, different pace, played with different rules. Even the ball is different."
Auriemma agrees. "The comparisons are unfair," he says. "I don't want the women's game compared with the men's. You read things like, 'The men would kill the women in a game.' Well, they would. But who cares? The women don't have to play the men. That's the rule. Who cares if Steffi Graf couldn't beat Pete Sampras? She doesn't have to play Pete Sampras to win Wimbledon. That's the rule."
If there is a deep cause for the split between the two men, it remains personal, unspoken. Calhoun says UConn has a lot of coaches he knows only slightly. He never really got to know football coach Skip Holtz before he departed. At other schools, relationships vary between the men's and women's basketball coaches. Some are good friends (box, page 70), but the majority are neutral at best.
"When I was an assistant at Virginia, I got along great with Terry Holland, who was the men's coach," Auriemma says. "Everybody'd go out together. Terry'd pick up the check, because he was making so much money. We talked a lot. I thought that was the way it always would be. It just hasn't happened with Jim. In the end, it doesn't matter if we go to dinner or not."
So there really is no reason the two men should talk. Of course not. There is no reason they should be friends. No reason they should pose together for a photo for this article, which the UConn S.I.D. declined to even ask them to do. The two men might be headed to the Final Four, one goal that has eluded Calhoun. The women might be headed to the Final Four, looking for revenge against Tennessee. The men have a 6'11" player from the Sudan and a 7-footer from Australia, both sitting out the year, and they already have signed three top recruits for next year; the women have five freshmen who were high school All-Americas, best UConn recruiting class ever, and the level of optimism in both programs is at an alltime high, but....