If you gave me a vote right now for college basketball coach of the year, I would not give it to Jim Boeheim.
NOW, we all know how much I adore James Arthur. And I think he's done an amazing job with this Syracuse Orange squad. With a win Saturday, the Orange would move into uncharted territory yet again this season. Already on the best start in school history, they would reach their seventh-consecutive week as the No. 1 team in the nation, something we've never done before.
And still, I don't think I would say Boeheim is Coach of the Year right now. I think he's in the top five for sure, probably top three, but I'm not ready to give it to him just yet.
Much like the Tim Tebow reaction, a lot of people seem to have convinced themselves that the Orange were this unheralded group of schlubs who could barely shoot a basketball in October. That was before Jim Boeheim got a hold them, wiped the crust out of their eyes, taught them some 2-3 zone and Voila! No. 1 team!
Also, I'm reminded of a couple years ago when Randy Edsall won Big East Coach of the Year for leading UConn to an 8-win season. The year prior, UConn won 8 games. Meanwhile, Doug Marrone improved Syracuse's win totals from four to eight that year. Edsall won Coach of the Year for doing the same job as the year before while Marrone led a team picked to finish 7th in the conference to their best season in almost a decade. That never sat well with me.
It's weird to be on this side of the discussion while Gregg Doyel is on the other.
The head of the Syracuse basketball program, which has been rocked by a scandal whose severity -- and legitimacy -- we're still trying to grasp, is having the best season of any coach in college basketball.
Jason King is in awe of the job Boeheim is doing as well. Both of them mention how Syracuse has played through the Bernie Fine scandal as a major reason they think this might be Boeheim's best work yet.
Personally, I hope that's not the reason anyone votes for Boeheim. It's true that it has required a deft hand to keep the players focused on the game, however I would honestly say that they are probably giving the situation too much credit. Based on everything I've seen and heard from the players, I don't think the accusations and fallout affected them as much as some would like to think it has. Veterans like Scoop Jardine and Kris Joseph set the tone and everyone put their head down through it all. The entire team deserves credit for that, for sure.
SI's Luke Winn currently gives his Coach of the Year nod to Indiana's Tom Crean and puts Boeheim in at No. 2. I think I have to agree with that. At least until this past week when the Hoosiers dropped three in a row. Winn stays clear of the post-Bernie platitudes and sticks to recognizing what Jimmy has done on the court:
He has led a team without a true All-America candidate to a 18-0 record and No. 1 national ranking. The Orange were expected to be strong this season, but Boeheim has deftly managed the nation's deepest rotation and presided over the sophomore breakouts of Dion Waiters and Fab Melo.
At the end of the day, I hope Jim does get COY consideration. Especially if this team delivers on expectations. He's done a fantastic job as usual. But aside from the whole "go-to guy" thing and the 10-man rotation hullabaloo, remember that this is also a team that was always expected to challenge for the No. 1 spot and be a Final Four contender. Don't let anyone convince you otherwise.
I think that's the point I'm trying to make, not that Boeheim ISN'T doing a great job, but that this team is BETTER than people are giving them credit for.