SU Basketball: Dealing With This Bernie Fine Thing...Years Later

It's a couple of years later, actually a little bit more than that even, and I still have this inner-monologue battle about Bernie Fine.

Oh, that picture.

Yeah...damn.

Bernie Fine gabbing away prior to the start of Syracuse's game at Miami, crisscrossing the internet via Chris Shepard's Twitter feed. It kind of takes my breathe a little. And it most certainly sparks my mind. A one-sided two-way conversation about a topic I've never really known how to handle.

Wow, Bernie Fine at an SU game, again. No exclamation points needed.

Of course, It wasn't long ago the only thing odd about the picture above would be Fine's talking to anyone. I mean, it seemed like all we ever saw of Bernie Fine was him sitting, usually silently, on the Syracuse sidelines -- practically apart of Jim Boeheim's wardrobe.

But now, Fine is an outcast...

Well, wait a second, is he really an outcast when Fine still has friends, pretty influential ones at that, in the college hoops game? Hell, the reason Fine was even at the game last weekend was because he and Jim Larranaga, the pretty successful Miami head man, collaborated together recently. Fine essentially teaching the Hurricanes coaching staff the ins and outs of zone defense. I'm not an expert, but that doesn't sound like a pariah to me.

Yeah, but Fine didn't lead a 'Canes practice, mind you. He was there, but kind of not.

Which is probably an apropos synopsis of Fine's existence. He, and by extension, to a much smaller degree, all of us who follow Syracuse basketball, can't escape those accusations, so disturbing and confounding as they remain. Years of alleged inappropriate behavior at best; years of life-altering relentless torture at worst.

That photo shows an outsider trying to sneak back inside.

But nothing ever came of those allegations, right? Courts are even throwing out lawsuits made by two of the accusers. I'm not at all defending anything here, but isn't it a little strange that after all the investigations, interrogations, January 2014 still feels a lot like November of 2011 -- back when everything first broke? The FBI was even involved when it came to one of the accusers, but ultimately it lead to this:

After nearly a year of police scouring more than 100,000 pages of seized documents and interviewing 130 witnesses, the investigation that attracted national media attention has ended, prosecutors said.

Still, how does anyone explain the police claiming that three people who say Bernie Fine did unspeakable things to them are in fact credible? How do you explain that phone call - oh God, that phone call - that first aired on ESPN? Fine's wife supposedly talking to one of the accusers, the first accuser, if that means anything, and sounding less than stunned by what was being said about her husband.

And if we're into pulling lines from stories, how about this one?

"I know everything that went on, you know," Laurie Fine said on the call, obtained by Outside the Lines from Davis. "I know everything that went on with him ... Bernie has issues, maybe that he's not aware of, but he has issues ... And you trusted somebody you shouldn't have trusted ... "

I have my reservations about how ESPN handled...well, everything, but you still can't just throw that phone call out because there may be some kind of crazy bias with reporters or producers involved.

You can't?

Ug. I don't think you can. Motivation can be questioned, but this is bigger than reporter bias, isn't it? Even though nothing has really happened legally here, you can just give Fine a pass. It's disingenuous and probably dangerous and maybe a lot of people are subconsciously tying fandom for Syracuse into Bernie Fine being an innocent man -- even if they don't realize they're doing it.

Hmm...maybe that's what is going on here, a little bit. Go back over two years ago and we all thought Fine's accusations would take down Syracuse basketball. Hell, I probably thought first, second and third about Boeheim and basketball before I actually really took the time to worry about Fine's alleged actions and "victims." And for as bad and crazy as those allegations were, everything that happened next was almost like Syracuse vs. The World -- it was tough to tell what was real and what wasn't.

It still is tough.

Yup.

Actually, why is this coming up now? Why I am worried about this, spending time lost in thought? No one has ever said, "Boy, it's been a minute, where can I read or hear more about the Bernie Fine scandal?" It's been years and I think, for all intent and purpose, we've moved on, law enforcement has moved on.

The people saying they're victims...have they moved on?

The people saying they're victims...that's right, what about them?

....

And here we are, in 2014, and Bernie Fine is, in one form or another, still a part of "things." That picture, it literally made me do a double take, and this is why I can't stop. I retweeted it and all I could write was, "Whoa."

He was at the Final Four last season, he was in Coral Gables, he obviously still has a connection to Syracuse Basketball and he's a free man who is able to watch a game, or help out programs like Miami or Florida Atlantic.

Wow. This is forever complicated. There will probably not be another "bombshell" in the case that brings the crescendo, there won't be any type of resolution for anyone. A never-ending story full of loose ends and frightening allegations and unfulfilled promises, run-on sentences craving punctuation.

The scandal stays well after the media leaves.

And Fine's image will always be a ghost hoovering in the background, never purposely to be the center of a picture but completely unavoidable all the same.

I can agree with myself there: Bernie Fine is a haunting reminder that the past doesn't always mean gone.

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