Update: Mike Hopkins took to Twitter to share his thoughts on concerns over his status...
Don't read too much into anything that's been said. I've been in conversations w/the Chancellor andfeel very comfortable w/our conversations— Coach Mike Hopkins (@Coach_Hopkins) March 19, 2015
Original: I guess I got confused at some point.
We've been hearing about Mike Hopkins as the Syracuse Orange coach-in-waiting for so long, I must have convinced myself that there was some kind of binding document in place that assured everyone that it would happen if and when Jim Boeheim retired.
"I believe Mike Hopkins will be a great coach," he said. "I fervently hope that he is the coach here. But that's something the chancellor will decide with the Board of Trustees, like they decide every major issue that happens at Syracuse University. And I decide sometimes what restaurants my family are going to eat at."
It's a bit of an about-face, at least publicly. This was probably always the case but Gross and Boeheim never spoke in these kinds of terms before. It was always that Hopkins was indeed next in line and would ascend the throne when the time was right. Now, all of a sudden, it's become abundantly clear that Hopkins can stick around for the next three years, get groomed to take over and then totally get passed over by the Chancellor if Syverud decides there's someone better (or less attached to Boeheim) for the job.
No wonder the guy is always on the hunt for a head coaching gig elsewhere.
I retraced my steps to see whether or not I was crazy to think there was an agreement of some kind and I came back to the announcement of a succession plan back in 2007. It was seemingly confirmed by a quote from DOCTOR Gross that said "Mike is the next coach." The next day, Gross backtracked, saying his quote was taken out of context and that there is no written contract, only "a concept."
Today, that concept feels a little more abstract than it used to. Sure, Gross and Boeheim can champion Hopkins but do their opinions still hold the same weight? Gross's certainly doesn't and Boeheim's authority has been diminished somewhat.
All of this is to say that Mike Hopkins should replace Jim Boeheim in three years and I would be surprised to find out that he didn't based on what I know right now. That said, I'm a firm believer in taking care of yourself over biding your time for the sake of others. If Mike Hopkins finds a head coaching gig that he deems worthy in the interim, I won't blame him for taking it.
A head coaching job elsewhere would be a guarantee. A guaranteed job, title and program to call his own.
He will find no guarantees at Syracuse.
Mike Hopkins is indeed a head coach-in-waiting, but only in the same way every other assistant coach is.