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Syracuse Basketball Roundtable: DOC's Future, Boeheim's Legacy & More

It's a good time to talk about the state of Syracuse Basketball, DOC Gross's job, Jim Boeheim's future and where the program goes from here.

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It's been a wild week for Syracuse Orange basketball, and to a larger extent, Syracuse Athletics. We're still early in the fallout process and this situation will look very different a year from now than it does today, but it's a good chance to throw some questions and answers out there to see where everyone stands.

Based on everything you know right now, is this the end of DOC Gross as Syracuse AD?

John Cassillo: Absolutely. The two hardest-hit programs in the NCAA (USC and Syracuse) over the past decade have one major thing in common: Gross. What he supervised (or didn't at all) at SU has been punished excessively, but still deserves punishment nonetheless. He runs an even looser ship than the one Boeheim is criticized for. If there's anyone who certainly needs to lose their job today, it's Gross for his complete lack of accountability throughout the athletic department -- along with not fixing football, of course.

Jared Smith: It better be. I don't wanna go full Cassillo and torch the DOCTOR (yet), but his role playing in the Fab Melo situation, "knowledge" about SU's OWN drug policy and not knowing what else is going on is inexcusable. INEXCUSABLE and INCOMPETENT.

Brandon Ross: Without question. The NCAA clearly identifies Gross as the guy pulling the trigger on all of the drug violations and with the Fab Melo academic scandal. While Gross has done some good for Syracuse, I think the University will have to terminate him, even if it may be just to save face.

Steve Haller: TGD will definitely be on the hottest of hot seats after this one. Don't really see him making it through the accusations and the issues stated in the report at this point.

Lisa Nelson: In any meaningful capacity, yes. He may stick around for another year, but only to avoid the appearance of a reflex firing. That's PR-101, isn't it?

Dan Lyons: Yes. Logic dictates that Chancellor Syverud would want to get his own guy in the position anyway, and DOCTOR Gross has been around for a while. All of the stuff in the report, which reflects far worse on Gross than it does on Jim Boeheim in my opinion, helps move that process along. Don't be surprised if/when Gross "steps down" at the end of this academic year.

Sean Keeley: There's officially more reasons for Syverud to let Gross go than there are for him to have him stay. The program and school are tarnished and someone big needs to take the fall for that. It's sure not gonna be Boeheim. Based on some of those pretty damning things in the report, and the way they jive with a longstanding culture of "whatever" at Syracuse Athletics, it's probably coming sooner than later, even if Gross announces that "he has decided" to leave.

Based on everything you know right now, how does this end for Jim Boeheim?

JC: With one final push for a championship this coming fall. He and the school may not be listening to those calling for his head right now, but when everything's brought up all over again during a potential Final Four run for the last full-strength Orange squad for the next eight years... I think he realizes that's it. No farewell tour. No grand ceremony. He'll just hang it up after the last game, hopefully with one last Final Four trip under his belt.

JS: Right now, I think he and Mike Hopkins are handing around for awhile. I said 2015-16 was going to be his last season, with the Olympics being his swan song, but I see this maybe a new fire stoking under him and, maybe, he hangs around (a bit longer than he should).

BR: I think that any way that the appeal goes, we're looking at the sad possibility of next year being Boeheim's last. With all of his vacated wins eliminating the possibility of him reaching 1,000 and his age, he can't handle more than another year or two at the helm of the program anyways. With the recruits coming in next year, the team looks to be as stacked as it's going to be for a while and hopefully they'll be able to send Boeheim out on top.

SH: This won't be the end of Boeheim. He won't go out like this. He's going to fight and claw his way into at least a few more #DisloyalIdiot moments next year. The question is whether this spurns his competitive nature a bit too much and he hangs on a little too long.

LN: There was never a timeline on his retirement, but we all know he was going to go in the next few years. Now, if he leaves anytime before the 5 years of probation is up, people will say it was due to the sanctions. If that's the case, the perception will always be that he was driven out, whether accurate or not.

DL: I think Boeheim coaches next year, and in 2016-17 because he doesn't want a season with a nine game suspension to be his final one, and he wants to put in a bit of extra time to make the transition to the Hopkins era smooth with the scholarship penalties taking hold. Maybe that changes if Syracuse goes on a crazy run and wins it all in 2015-16, but that just feels like how Boeheim goes out, to me at least.

SK: I'm pretty firm in my belief that next season is Boeheim's last. He might want to keep going. He probably does want to keep going. But I think he's at the point where he kinda has to let Syracuse move on without him. Even if I would like to see him on the sidelines for another decade, there might just be something in the air that's trying to tell us all that it's time for the next phase.

Admit it, you're kinda intrigued by the idea of Mike Hopkins guest-hosting the show in January, aren't you?

JC: Why of course I am. We've been wondering for years, and now we don't have to see Boeheim fired to make it happen at all. We get a TEST RUN! Hopkins will be more cordial with media and more patient with the kids, I'd imagine. But there's no guarantees that "Temporary HC Hop" is the same as "Full-Time HC Hop" or any different from "Full-Time HC Boeheim." It's going to be fun to see what happens, if only for the month-plus discussion around it all, and the knowledge that good or bad, things go back to normal once it's done.

JS: Yes. I think it could be a good thing for Jim Boeheim (maybe, he sees that the program is going to be fine with Hop) and a GREAT thing for Hopkins, who gets to run the show without Mr. James Arthor around.

BR: What am I five? (Fifteen, close enough) But for real, he has been Boeheim's apprentice for almost 20 years now and has had the opportunity to learn how to coach from one of the game's all-time greats. Based on this fact alone, the intrigue of seeing the team with Hopkins at the helm is obviously there. SH: There's no kinda. I'm absolutely intrigued by what Hop can do with the reigns. It's been a long time coming. It will be a trial by fire but he's learned from the Master for long enough that he should be able to pull it off.

LN: Holy cow, yes! Not only because I want to see whether the style of play changes, but also because I want to see what sort of coaching character Hop is. Does he refuse to do halftime interviews? Does he wear anything trademark-y like a white towel over his shoulder or a track suit? Will he call people idiots if provoked at post game pressers?! Inquiring minds want to know.

DL: Totally. I wish that the calendar on this had changed and Hopkins had been able to coach the games this year, with the stakes lower, but it is rare that a program with a "head coach in waiting" gets to see that guy lead the team in extremely crucial situations, and SU will get that chance, for better or worse. Luckily, next year's team will be very young and talented, and I imagine a lot of the rotation players will also be major factors when Hopkins becomes head coach. Obviously, I wish Boeheim wasn't suspended, but this bit of it is incredibly intriguing.

SK: What a great opportunity. How often does a major college basketball program get the chance to try out a potential head coach for an extended period of time? In theory, Hopkins gets a quality team full of stars midway into their season and against top opponents. The question is, what happens if Syracuse goes 2-7? How much should we read into the results? We'll have to decide then.

How does everything that's gone down change your view of Jim Boeheim's legacy?

JC: I guess that depends on how Boeheim's career ends, honestly. Because if it ends with a Sweet 16 flame-out by a talented 2015-16 squad, then not much... if anything, sort of hammers home some issues with Boeheim's tenure and allows the negative narrative about the under-achieving giant that is Syracuse basketball to follow him out. If it ends with a championship, or at least a Final Four run, the murmurs about tainted late-career success could stick around, but they won't endure longer than the rest of his legacy at that point (five Final Fours, potentially two titles). Either way, he'll be looked at as one of the last remnants of a nearly-dead breed of coaches.

JS: It doesn't really. I think we here at TNIAAM have a pretty good grasp of what Jim Boeheim is–a fantastic coach that is loyal to the university like no other, and we LOVE that. But, to win (in freakin' Syracuse, NY), he had to turn a blind eye to somethings and this is the price he paid.

BR: It doesn't now and it never will. Even the NCAA admitted in their report that there was little to no involvement with these penalties on the part of Boeheim. To the Syracuse fan, his legacy will never fade. But to everyone else, I guess the only thing that can be done is to wait and see.

SH: I don't really think it does. From an internal perspective and someone who pored over everything that came out on this, I don't think it tarnishes anything. Externally it may be a different story with how the media has been painting it, I don't know.

LN: Well, he started coaching in an era where plausible deniability was the norm, and he never changed. That's bad, and he screwed up. But I don't think any of it was intentional. I think it may have been lazy, but I'm not doing a full 180-degree turn in my view of Jimmy B. I get that this makes me a total homer, but whatever. This mess was created by more than just Jim Boeheim, so I'm not writing him off.

DL: Not much. I think Boeheim is a great coach, and a pretty good dude overall, with all he's done to battle cancer and things off of the court. I've never been under the impression that he does things and more above or below board when compared to the other top programs in the country. If people outside of the fan base want to brand him a cheater, that's fine. I'm sure Boeheim will be fine taking on the same label that can very easily be placed on John Wooden, Jim Valvano, Jerry Tarkanian, or countless other legendary coaches.

SK: It might be hard to believe in this moment, but the impact of these sanctions will fade into the collected memories of Jim Boeheim's 40-year era. We won't forget it but it won't be the first thing we think of either. Just like the Bernie Fine business. I do believe that Boeheim is indeed guilty of trusting the wrong people and didn't willfully break the rules, but, that's also something that's reoccurring theme in his career. It's all part of the package.

A year from today, where will Syracuse Basketball be?

JC: Awaiting their lowly, eventual ACC Tournament foe to get done with the early rounds of games so they can try to win an ACC Championship and maybe nab a no. 1 seed. Or, y'know... preparing to lose to Pitt despite a seven-game advantage in the win column going in. Either/or.

JS: In the ACC Tournament, hopefully ready to make a run at a title that will shut everyone up. Man, if everyone comes back, it should be a really fun season.

BR: There are two ways I can see next season going down. The first is everything goes wrong (the less likely of the two in my mind). McCullough doesn't recover and Coleman never returns to full form. Josephbusts and none of the freshman are able to contribute. Syracuse falls off the national stage. Then there's everything goes right. The freshman all contribute as well as Joseph and McCullough and Coleman return to full form. We make a deep run in the NCAA tournament (hopefully a final four run) and give Jim Boeheim a good note to end on.

SH: Sitting with a top recruiting class and back near the top of the ACC after coming off of Hop having his debut and our favorite curmudgeon shooting for another ACC/NCAA run. I think we'll be right on the track we've expected since before this all broke.

LN: A year from today, Syracuse will have just beaten Clemson to advance in the ACC Tournament. The Orange will go on to face Louisville, Clemson fans will say "well, at least we have football," and everything will be right in the world.

DL: A top four seed in the ACC Tournament, on the way to a top four seed in the NCAA Tournament. I'll see you all in Washington, D.C.

SK: The Redemption Season will culminate with a 5-seed in the ACC Tournament and a 4-seed in the NCAA Tournament. If the Basketball Gods see fit, we'll make a big run and Boeheim can go out with his head held high. Of course, the Basketball Gods don't always see things our way. So we shall see...