Syracuse Basketball Head-Coach-Lady-In-Waiting Mike Hopkins is quietly biding his time before the day when Jim Boeheim retires and Hops takes his rightful place at the throne. Unfortunately for him, Jim Boeheim's adamantium skeleton shows no sign of breaking down anytime soon. So he will continue to haunt the streets of Baltimore in search of the next great SU player for the foreseeable future.
We've never heard any grumblings about Hopkins' interest in another job, even though his resume is probably about as good as you can get as an assistant coach. He really does seem to be an SU Lifer and there aren't many Syracuse fans out there who don't think he will be the best and most capable option to replace Boeheim in the unlikely event that Jim Boeheim is ever not the head coach anymore (like say, if a giant meteor is hurling towards the Earth and the spaceship we send up to destroy the meteor fails and the only option left is for Jim Boeheim to fly into the center of the meteor and turn himself into a human A-bomb, thereby saving humanity but sacrificing himself in the process).
Naturally though, despite the fact that he is the de facto next coach of SU (to everyone except DOC Gross, that is), it's still not going to stop speculation about other head coaching opportunities from time to time. Case in point, the USC debacle. Tom Floyd resigned yesterday and left the USC basketball program in shambles. All of the players have moved on, the top recruits have gone elsewhere and they're likely to be hit with some very major sanctions sooner than later. So....who wants the job?!?!?
Pitt's Jamie Dixon is getting thrown around a lot since he grew up nearby. Some other names that have been bandied about include Oregon State Coach Craig Robinson, former Kings and "Hang Time" coach Reggie Theus and St. Mary's Coach Randy Bennett.
As dire as the circumstance will be in the immediate future, there are excellent basketball coaches out there who certainly would be interested in the position. The lure of living in Southern California and coaching in a facility as beautiful as the Galen Center will attract some genuine talents -- perhaps Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins, who grew up in the SoCal area and helped build the Orange into an NCAA championship program, or Mike Dunlap, such an integral part of Arizona's Sweet 16 success this past spring.
Now that's just conjecture on the part of writer Mike DeCourcy and not any confirmed interest from USC, so don't go freaking out. Here's the thing though...even if it was actual interest, I have to believe the chances of Hopkins entertaining the offer are about -37%.
My guess is that, if he wanted it, Hopkins could have his pick of any mid-major head coaching gig and probably even a few major conference ones. And he's probably turned down more head coaching job interviews than we realize. His recruiting track record is on par with anyone else in the NCAA. And he's got the benefit of working under a three-time Final Four head coach.
So why in the world would he move cross-country, away from his recruiting base, home, alma mater and mentor in order to take over a mediocre program with no talent, no incoming-talent and approaching sanctions that will almost certainly guarantee that no future talent comes his way for a long time? Thanks but no thanks.
There may indeed come a time down the road that, if Jim Boeheim is still chugging along, Hopkins opts-out of his status to pursue a head coaching job elsewhere. But I have to think that considering he has been bequeathed one of the most iconic NCAA basketball programs in the land, it's going to take a hell of a lot more than the current USC program to make Mike Hopkins think twice about coaching somewhere else.