I'm not the first person to come up with the following theory. In fact, I'm not even totally sure I would buy what I'm about to write if it were to actually happen. (Although, I think I do.) Still the fact is, I find this intriguing and I think it's more solution than what's currently being offered up.
Suspend Jim Boeheim.
Hold on a sec! This isn't some rantings of a lunatic. #PageViews and #HotTakes I am not. In all reality, it's probably not even that shocking to read, is it? Again, other's have been on this well before me. Including ESPN's Dan Dakich, who broke down this idea to Chris McManus on ESPN Syracuse.
Dakich: "If I were the AD, I would have banned Jim Boeheim from the postseason instead of punishing the kids."— Chris McManus (@CuseChris) February 5, 2015
So, it could seem a little over the top, and it's definitely not a punishment that I would always be in favor of doling out. Each case is different, there are always
fifty shades of grey. But, honestly, like real talk here, between us, I think I'd be perfectly okay if Syracuse or the NCAA suspended Jim Boeheim for the tournament rather than suspending him AND his team.
I mean, this isn't the first time an NCAA tournament ban has happened on his watch. Sure, that punishment wasn't really all about Boeheim, as it encompassed other teams and was fairly widespread. But you can't argue that Boeheim was, in some form or another, culpable.
And now? We've read enough about this NCAA investigation to know that it dates back to at least 2007, and it certainly involves Fab Melo and probably James Southerland. All of those players are gone, a lot of the assistants are gone, and, hell, administration at the highest level isn't even the same. The one constant? Boeheim. Again, total blame or not, there's a culpability factor here.
While Boeheim isn't exactly this evil mastermind coach who hands out bags of cash with $ plastered on them, he is the guy who's now had two major NCAA investigations and two postseason bans. This is at least worth talking about here, right? Like, it's kind of hard to, looking at the macro, defend Boeheim on all of this, no? But even ignoring the previous rules violations, just looking at this current investigation, shouldn't he be something of the fall guy?
Besides, why should someone like Rakeem Christmas miss out on the opportunity of playing in the NCAA tournament for infractions that happened years ago? Christmas, the same player who has not just improved more than any other Syracuse player I can think of, he's worked the hardest to be the most improved. He's gone from tentative to tenacious. Follower to leader. But, for infractions that didn't and don't involve him, we now officially know how his story ends. At least a chapter, if not two, too short. Well, check that, those rules violations and the subsequent investigation now does include him. He is one of the guys punished because of them. I get that Syracuse wasn't exactly a lock to make the Big Dance, but that's not really the point for Christmas and teammates.
The issue is, Christmas, and Trevor Cooney and Mike Gbinije and Tyler Roberson, the players won't even get the shot at it. There's something to be said about coming up short knowing you at least tried. If SU's bid for a tourney spot died against Virginia or N.C. State or even in Greensboro, so be it. Hell, that means it just wasn't meant to be. But you could be damn certain Christmas, and everyone else, would at least have gone down fighting. But now? That's all ripped away.
I'm not even talking about the timing of this suspension, either. I know there's a lot of heat being placed on the university for announcing a "self-imposed tournament ban" in February, when the Orange looks more NIT than NCAA. But what else is the school supposed to do? It wasn't even called into to meet with the Committee on Infractions until October. It's not reasonable to expect, as 2014-15 was essentially starting, SU to digest two days worth of meetings and do a quick-turnaround ban. Syracuse is the one that's been waiting on the NCAA here, not the other way around.
Plus, we've heard nothing but how Syracuse University is cooperating fully with the NCAA. That probably means its been in contact with whomever necessary along the way. And I'm betting the postseason-ban announcement was first run through the proper powers that be, vetted correctly.
The timing is strange but it's not just because Syracuse is trying to pull a fast one. That's partially true, but there's more to the story.
So, putting this whole thing into a vacuum, even taking away the names involved and removing biases. Looking at it as School A with Head Coach X. Doesn't it just seem more logical to put the blame on the coach rather than the players? We could be talking about any program under the NCAA sun, in any sport. If the damn investigation (I'm getting worked up here) into what rules were broken is going to take years, then the most logical thing is to suspend the leader who was there for it all, the bad and the good.
I get that it's not a full-proof plan. But, after writing my way through this, I really don't see why it wouldn't work perfectly here for Syracuse. It'll never happen, you're right. And that's ultimately too bad. Because Jim Boeheim's career will have some added tarnish to it from all of this and Rakeem Christmas' career will forever be incomplete.