So Jim Boeheim told Ian O'Connor at ESPN NY that he "can see the end" of his illustrious coaching career at Syracuse.
"It's definitely getting closer and closer," Boeheim said of retirement. "I can see it. I can see the end."
"I'm getting close, I really feel that way," Boeheim told ESPNNewYork.com. "I'm not making any calls at this stage of the season, but this league has gotten awfully tough. It's a real grind out there."
It's the kind of words that make Orange fans want to turn into birds so they can fly far, far away from here. Regardless of how confident we are in Mike Hopkins (and we are), Jim Boeheim IS Syracuse Basketball. And I don't mean that lightly. Of the 100 greatest things to ever happen to Syracuse Hoops, he was involved one way or another in about 98 of them.
Before you rush over to the ledge, though, SU fan...remember two things.
1. Jim Boeheim does this EVERY YEAR.
2. He's not telling you something you didn't already know.
As O'Connor notes, Boeheim first mentioned the R word four years ago. Since then, it's become an annual tradition for someone to ask him about it near the end of the season and for Jim to respond with a "soon but not sure when" response. Just like he did here.
Jim Boeheim has a humongous chip on his shoulder when it comes to critics. As much as he loves to tell you otherwise, he's usually saying how much he doesn't care what people think while defending himself against something people think (See: The West Virginia Press Conference & Subsequent Ones). And THAT is why I truly feel like we won't see the last of Jim until he accomplishes a few more things.
1. One more Final Four run
2. Passes Bobby Knight on the all-time D-1 wins list.
The first one is tricky. We all know how few and far between those are. But if Jim can notch one more Final Four, it would be the perfect coda on a Hall of Fame career. Not to mention it means that Jim will have led the Orange to FFs in four different decades, five if you include the '75 Final Four when Jim was an assistant.
The second one is easy. He'll pass Dean Smith sometime around now in 2012. Then, it's only another 23 wins to catch The General. Coach K is the only active coach ahead of him and I think we can fairly say Jimmy's probably not going to catch him. So within two years, JB will be the 2nd-winningest coach in Division 1 history. Calhoun is on his tail but I don't think he'll catch Jimmy from here on out.
Adding that to his resume, even if he doesn't get another Final Four, would be just as good. Boeheim is clearly bothered by the way some folks perceive his career as a whole. To have that kind of number next to your name, especially considering it means he'll have 900+ wins, would be undeniable.
Could Jim up and retire at the end of this season? Sure. It's possible. He's got lots going on off the court and his golf game could always use the attention. But I highly doubt it. He's got a loaded, experienced team coming back in 2011-2012, a top-ranked recruiting class coming in and a great chance to get back to the Final Four within the next 2-3 years. I would be shocked if he doesn't stay for at least another two years, if not a third.
In the meantime, let's just enjoy the fact that we've all gotten the chance to watch Jimmy coach this team and lead this program all these years. And he's not done yet.