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SU Basketball: The Imperfect Coach And His Ready-To-Fight Fans

Jim Boeheim and Syracuse fans can't change their ways and that's probably a good thing.

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Have you ever seen someone stuck in the ditch on the side of the road in late October or early November? You know the person I'm talking about here. A kid, probably a transplant to the area, driving too fast for the conditions.

That person, male or female, who just had to be one of the first "weather related" accidents during the first snow fall of the season. You've seen them, either passing by on the highways or by watching the local news coverage. No matter how many warnings there are about driving safe in snow, there are always those select special few who crash the very second the first few flakes fly.

So when you see this annual idiot, or idiots, in their moment of peril and -- assuming their vehicle is just slightly stuck in some snowy ditch --- do you just laugh? A slight chuckle with a comment of something like "pfftt..that will teach that idiot."

If you're from "upstate" New York, you've totally done this.

I'd sure as hell help the person in distress if they really needed it, no question. But I also know three things: 1) They were driving too fast because they weren't paying attention,  2) Every damn year, the first little blanketing of snow brings dozens of totally avoidable tow truck bills from kids who probably will ask mom and pop to pay them, and 3) Everyone has a cell phone now, they'll be fine.

That's the type of person "northern New York" breeds. We're a little hardened. We're a little skeptical. We've been there and seen that and we know you were wrong. We'll be the first to help if help is needed. We'll also be the first to say "How the hell did you crash? It's barely even snowing out?!"

And that's why I think Syracuse fans are so quick to defend their team until death. They're all a little "different" given where they grew up and/or went to school. Look at where they live? If you're from San Diego, you're expected to be "chill" and have a casually relaxed feeling to just about everything. If you're from the midwest? You'll be polite to everyone, even to someone driving by and laughing at you stuck in a snowy ditch.

Central and northern New Yorkers are just simply different. And you've seen over the last two weeks what they're like when someone, especially someone from the outside, criticizes their team. The pundits who didn't think the Orange should have been in the dance may have had a point of sorts, but arguing that Monmouth should have been in instead? C'mon, man. You don't come at SU fans with weak crap. You'll be trolled on social media for the rest of time.

Hello, Dan Bonner, how's Cal doing? Doug Gottlieb, has anyone from New York state asked for your thoughts lately? Pat Forde...OY, poor Pat Forde.

Now, I know that every fan base under the sun feels disrespected. Shit, Clemson fans are already filling up message boards about having to wait so long for me to get to something Tigers related. (Sorry, Clemson, we'll get back to you in September.) But I've been reminded lately that Orange fans don't just hold grudges, they squeeze death.

It's not like they're bad people, though. Like anyone who shrugs at the the kid going off the road while it's spitting some snow. We're just not up for people who waste our or other people's time.

Fans are still sick to their stomachs over the 2011 coverage of the "Bernie Fine scandal." And whether or not you agree with how the school or even Jim Boeheim handled it, the end result of the entire "controversy" certainly didn't turn out like many people either thought or hoped. Oh, and who could forget about last year? Syracuse basketball was the scourge of college athletics. Everyone with a mic or a laptop came at SU hoops with the hottest of #HOTTAEKS. So when everything hit the fan on Selection Sunday, Orange Nation was quick to gather the weapons (open up Twitter) and run off to battle to defend what's theirs (make fun of every pundit on Twitter).

This isn't about a bunch of people being upset with Vegas odds makers. It's not about someone saying Team A will beat Syracuse. That's understandable. Analytical breakdowns of why other teams are better than Syracuse doesn't turn the heat up for the Orange faithful. That's all cool.

The anger felt in the bellies of the believers boils, though, because the people ripping Syracuse seemed to be trying to pile on. Saying the Orange didn't belong but then ignoring teams like Tulsa or Vanderbilt getting in? Combining the NCAA investigation/scandal/Boeheim suspension into one point against the Orange? That's garbage. Hot garbage. And the fans took all of it as just another time when the nation finally paid attention to Syracuse only to take a metaphorical poop on it.

And what says Syracuse Orange basketball and battle-ready more than Boeheim? The guy gets criticized more than anyone. A coach who could only recruit at first. Then he was the coach relying on the gimmicky 2-3 zone. Now he's back to the coach who cheats. Or...

Meanwhile, the Final Four appearances keep piling up. The last few years have been really good, despite the bad, if you think about it. Five Sweet 16s since 2009, along with three Elite 8s since 2012 and now two Final Fours since 2013. That's not quite Tom Izzo-like work, In fact, while everyone will forever remember Richmond or Vermont, Boeheim's SU has won seven-straight NCAA first round games.

Let the naysayers bitch...

But God help him, Jim Boeheim cares about that outside noise. That's why he responds to it all. He comes back at someone too often sometimes. He'll bring up old stuff just because he has the opportunity sometimes. Get an invite to be on ESPN's PTI, that network's bread and butter? The first comment out of coach's mouth is how he hadn't be invited on in a couple of years. Most Hall of Fame coaches probably wouldn't care about something petty like that once the lights went on. Boeheim couldn't wait to remind Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon how they seemed to forget about him. A pep rally moments before taking off for another Final Four trip turned out to be a good time to take a few jabs at the doubters, too.

The coach takes all of his shots with snarky barbs delivered through smug sneer-like smiles on big stages. It's just like every last Syracuse fan out there. They can't get on TV, so they turn to every available outlet to do their bidding. And it's really never a bad time to remind someone that they're acting like an idiot. Whether they're looking at a camera espousing phony knowledge about hoops, or if they've spun out on the side of the road waiting to get their car back into gear.

It takes a real someone to navigate the roads of life in and around Syracuse. And if you didn't know that, well, you won't have to wait long for us to tell you all about it.