I can't get the image of Jim Boeheim and Kent Syverud sitting at a table in a giant but otherwise empty auditorium out of my mind. The two of them, one Syracuse University's unquestioned captain, the other Syracuse University's chancellor, staring up to a stage full of NCAA officials.
And while it's not likely to have that Scent of a Woman feel to it, Boeheim and Syverud, and some other current and former SU employees, really will be appearing in front of the NCAA's Committee on Infractions this Thursday and Friday. The beginning to the end of a complicated and all-too long story. It won't be the climax, but it's at least the start of the crescendo -- where SU officials will finally hear what rules were broken and (possibly) find out what punishment they are facing, if any.
The unfortunate aspect to this week for fans, other than the fact this week is even happening, is that while SU will know what's what, no one else will likely find out for some time. Meaning that, after years of hearing the NCAA is snooping around Central New York, the waiting game will probably continue -- for maybe weeks or even months more. So, we'll all wait and wonder and repeat.
Yes, we've heard it's academic issues that first were noticed during the reign of Fab Melo. But there are also reports of extra benefits. And we're reading that this investigation could even involve the football program. There is just so much to clear up here.
What happened when and who knew what are two good places to start.
Then there are the kind-of-hypothetical questions that may be too scary to ask for Orange fans. They're lingering around the future of Syracuse athletics, of Syracuse basketball specifically.
- Will there be a postseason ban?
- If so, is Syracuse looking at a one-year banishment from the dance, or longer?
- Scholarships? Will those be reduced in the future?
- Will this program revert back to its mid-90's form?
- What about that incoming freshmen class of 2015? If there are significant penalties, will any or all of those inbound talents bolt before matriculating? It's a class many experts call top-ten, maybe even top-five depending on how it shakes out this year. (And if we're into the hypothetical here, let's imagine that this year's team sticks around, save for Rakeem Christmas. That makes the 2014-15 squad look REAL LOADED. LIKE, ALL CAPS LOADED.)
- If that class does in fact stick, and a Kaleb Joseph and Chris McCullough live up to they hype and stay, will Syracuse be a preseason top-five team unable to participate in that season's Big Dance?
- Did the football program cheat in a way that typical Big Boy programs cheat? And if so, why didn't that cheating work like it usually does for the Big Boys?
- If, after all is rendered, Syracuse is hammered with scholarship losses and some form of tourney ban(s), what about Jim Boeheim?
That's probably the biggest jump-to-conclusions conclusion you can jump to, isn't it? All of that other...stuff...leads to Boeheim; the status of The Coach.
Syracuse University can survive some slaps on the wrist. Jim Boeheim can survive a slap or two, too. Hell, he's already gone through one postseason ban that a lot of fans may have forgotten about or simply weren't even alive for back in 1992-93. But if the NCAA shows a repeated history, a pattern, of rules violating under Boeheim's watch? If this is more of a paddle to the butt? Well...A week ago I didn't think that was going to happen, but now? I'm clearly at least entertaining the notion.
It really could be big trouble for Boeheim.
"Could be" because we have no evidence of anything, and we certainly have no idea which way the NCAA is leaning when it comes to blame or punishments. But it's hard to not think about how this will all affect Boeheim. How it all could change the present and the future, the entire trajectory of not just the next couple of seasons, but rather the next decade or more. And IF there is a culture of rules breaking, who is to say Boeheim's number two, Mike Hopkins, gets to keep his cushy "coach-in-waiting" position?
So many questions.
And it's still too early to find out those answers, even though it's getting late in this NCAA investigation. But if you let your mind wander a little, well, you start to daydream, or "daynightmare" maybe, a little, too. You end up at the point in your mind where Syracuse hoops - the most consistent thing in life because death can take decades to catch up and taxes can be cheated on but Boeheim just keeps winning - may look a lot different.
That's all the worst-case scenario for Boeheim and Syracuse. It's what we have right now: thoughts, scenarios questions, and plenty of them. But if the ship is really going down, well, the captain usually goes down with it, doesn't he? Chalk that up as another one where we'll will have to wait to find out the answer.