STORRS -- He is who he is, says what he says. And after 27 years of press conferences, some even conducted in Italian, there's no chance public opinion, pressure or pleading will keep
from speaking his mind.
"Generally speaking, there is a lot of truth to the things I say," Auriemma said. "I don't just make stuff up. I don't throw things out there I consider uninformed or totally off the wall. There are things I believe strongly in."
It is possible one could find a quip to sidle up to each of Auriemma's 771 wins, some as Hall of Fame worthy as his coaching ability.
But that doesn't mean some of the things he says have public appeal. Sometimes even his coaches, aware how the GPS in his mind works, will attend his press conferences and wait for the next turn.
"Sometimes we sit around at a press conference, or especially now that we know he has a
account, and bite our nails wondering what he is going to say," assistant coach
said. "But the one thing you can always count on him for is that he says what he thinks, and most of the time it's the truth.
"Now, you may not want to hear it, and most times people may not want to address it. But he doesn't just spout off. Usually, it's what everyone else is thinking about but doesn't have the courage to say."
Like the day he said shrinking attendance was a sign his program's fans were getting lazy. Or all the days he has taken on Tennessee coach Pat Summitt.
Or lately, at
media day in New York in October, when the frustration of watching the Big East Conference fall apart led him to suggest it was time
football started acting more reverently toward its neighbors.
But here's the thing with Geno: He truly doesn't care what people think of him; never has, never really will. The opinions he values are of those most close and dear to him.
"I heard a great line once that opinions are like [a part of the anatomy everyone has]," Auriemma said. "Everyone is entitled to theirs. I've learned over the years that you're just not always entitled to always share it with the public.
"Some things that I say are just my opinion. I don't know what other coaches think of what I say. I don't know what other people think about what I say. I'm sure when I said what I said [about Notre Dame], or when I say what I say, there are many who will criticize me and they have every right to do that."
Auriemma and Summitt, to the greatest extent, Muffet McGraw, Tara VanDerveer and Vivian Stringer seem to have the forum to say what they feel without fear of serious cross examination by superiors or pundits.
Auriemma isn't sure that's totally true. But no sooner did he rip Notre Dame than a ripple of relief seemed to waft across the room at
's. Everyone seemed to know Auriemma had just said what everyone else was thinking, but didn't have the guts to express.
"I believe, in this world that we live in, that everyone is always trying to be politically correct," Auriemma said. "You are not allowed to answer any questions in a way that, in your heart, you feel because you are afraid you may offend someone or might say the wrong thing.
"I don't understand that. The truth is the truth. I don't think enough people want to go in that direction. Maybe from now on when the media asks me a question that I don't want to answer, I'll just break out into a song."
remembers the day in 2000 when Auriemma addressed the crowd after
's victory parade and promised another championship the next year.
"He is aware of what he says. He is very astute," she said. "He knows what's going on around him. And during the 27 years he's been here, I am sure that there's been a moment -- well, maybe there's been a moment -- that caused him to think to himself, 'Why did I say that?'
"But nine times out of 10, perhaps even more, he knows what he's doing, he knows what he's saying and there is always a reason. After he says things, people react to it without even knowing he has a plan [behind it]. He doesn't say things that aren't in some way calculated."
Auriemma doesn't plan to change, even though there are times people wish he would. He said the most trouble he's caused himself was when he questioned the motivations of the national media suddenly interested in covering his team's pursuit of UCLA's winning streak.
Auriemma wanted to know where everyone was in 2003 when
was helping the program win 71 in a row.
"There have been things I said, in my heart and mind, that I just wanted to say because it needed to be out there and some people don't want to put it out there. That doesn't make me right; don't misunderstand me.