Every article you will read about Boeheim's award is sure to mention how the team started the season unranked, after losing the top three scorers from last season, but still climbed all the way to number 1 ranking and to a #1 seed in the Tournament. A few stories might go a little further and remind us that this amazing season was accomplished with zero All-American recruits on the roster. Deservingly, Boeheim was easily the popular choice this year receiving 38 of the 65-member national media panel's votes. Runner up was Kansas State's Frank Martin with eight votes.
But "finally" has to be what every Syracuse fan is thinking right now. Jim Boeheim is a Hall of Fame, National Championship-winning coach. Year-in, year-out he has done nothing but win basketball games with whatever group of kids he has convinced to play at Syracuse. He holds the Division I record for most 20-win seasons with 32 of them. Sean has already asked, "What does this award mean," and I think that is an excellent question. But today at least, I think the answer is vindication. For Syracuse fans, this award is not really about this one fantastic season (though that's certainly important). It's really about Jim Boeheim finally getting the national recognition he deserves. Yes, he's in the Hall of Fame, and yes, he is repeatedly mentioned as a great college coach. But too often his name isn't mentioned in the same breath as coaches like Dean Smith and John Wooden and Bob Knight, or even Mike Krzyzewski. And God dammit, it should be! Jim Boeheim has almost single-handedly created one of the most successful college basketball programs of all time.
Even Jimmy B. recognizes this, in his own grumpy fashion:
This is a tremendous honor. I won a coaching award in my first year of coaching -- the Eastern Coach of the Year. It’s the last national award I won. It was 34 years ago. So, it’s nice to win a national award (again).
So finally! Finally Jim Boeheim is getting the recognition he deserves. His name will forever be on a long list with some of the other greatest coaches of all time, right where it should be. Finally.