After leading the United States women's basketball team to its fifth straight Olympic gold in August, Geno Auriemma was asked if he'd be willing to accept one more term in office; you know, try to do it again in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
In that instant, a quadrennial of world travel, of juggling the national team with his UConn team, of pursuing a prize everybody expected he'd win and no one acknowledged he wouldn't, rushed through his brain.
His answer was succinct, even by Auriemma standards.
"One time is enough," Auriemma said.
Auriemma did what was asked of him by USA Basketball. He reclaimed the 2010 World Championship lost in 2008 and he won a fifth straight gold.
"There really was no better feeling," Diana Taurasi said of the London Games. "I wouldn't have wanted to be [on the medal stand] with anyone else. Coach [Auriemma] knows me more than any person on this earth, including my family, so it means a lot."
But the experience, sometimes exhilarating, sometimes exasperating, was unequivocally enough for a man who now officially has done it all.
"There were things this summer I knew I couldn't teach [the Olympic team] because I didn't have the time," Auriemma said. "I knew there were some things I simply needed to put up with.
"And I knew there were [habits] that would cause certain players to lose in the WNBA because we didn't have the time to do certain things to help [solve them].
"I knew we'd win [the gold] because we had the talent, and I just figured out a way to put that talent in the right place at the right time and use it the right way."
Bolstered by six former UConn players — Asjha Jones, Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, Swin Cash, Tina Charles and Maya Moore — Auriemma's Olympic team went 8-0 in London.
It won the gold medal game with a thumping of France.
But Auriemma claims he didn't coach the team, at least not in the classic Gampel Pavilion sense.
"That's the big fallacy about the Olympics," Auriemma said. "I wouldn't call what I did coaching. A lot of the players weren't interested in learning anything; they just wanted to play. So it was important to me to just let them play.
"With [college players], you have to work so much harder on things. That's why I get paid so much more to coach here." He received no salary to coach the Olympic team.
Truth be told, there were aspects of coaching Olympians that caught Auriemma off-guard — not always in a good way. No longer did some of the former collegians automatically respond to a collegiate-type approach from Auriemma and his staff. Some had the temerity to talk back to Auriemma. He just shrugged it off.
"I wouldn't say it surprised me," Auriemma said. "Five coaches have coached the last five Olympic teams and they all won gold medals. It just goes to show you that the coach means nothing.
"At that level, it's all about the players, and if you have the best players, you just need to get out of the way and let them go. They are pros. They come ready to play; that's their job, what they do for a living. And it was the Olympics. So if you have the right group of players, the worst thing you can do is micro-manage."
DePaul coach Doug Bruno, Auriemma's friend and top Olympic assistant, doesn't agree with the head coach's assessment of his performance in London.
"When Coach answers questions like that, he means what he says," Bruno said. "But I think he's too close to the forest to see the trees. He's a magnificent coach and he absolutely did coach those players. It doesn't just happen by itself.
"He's a perfectionist, he wants things always perfect, but at the same time he did more than managing. He made some very important decisions that needed to be made. Putting those playing pieces together in the right spot is a major piece of coaching."
But Bruno did agree the chemistry wasn't always the same as it was when the players were in college.
"At the core, they are all hard workers," Bruno said. "Look, you can never go home. You can never re-create. High school players that make it to UConn and DePaul can't re-create the magic of their senior years. Even though there were six UConn players on the [Olympic team], four from the greatest college team of all time [UConn's unbeaten 2001-02 team], you can't re-create that chemistry.
"When they go pro, they change in their own ways. You can never bring back the nostalgic beauty of the past. But they were all good, solid human beings at the core, no matter how things may have ebbed and flowed. And we still had two of the best managers of the game in history, in Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi.
"It was a great experience."
A once-in-a-lifetime experience for Auriemma.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun