While at ACC
Media Day Operation Basketball down in Charlotte on Wednesday, Syracuse Orange head coach Jim Boeheim was asked the obligatory question about retirement. When, specifically, would the hall-of-famer hang it up?
Based on his response, it doesn’t seem like it’ll be anytime soon. As he told ESPN:
“Forever. You’re not gonna get in any trouble with any speculations. I want to coach for as long as I can. I think too much emphasis is put on age. If I were 60 years old, nobody would ask me that question. I think you can be productive in this world -- the smartest guy I know is Warren Buffett, and he’s well into his 80s. If you like doing something and you can be good at it, I don’t think age should be any part of the equation.”
The retirement question is not a new one for Jim, but it’s one that has taken on a fresh focus now that the three-year timeline is gone. His extension has him here for as long as he’d like, which was always the case, but becomes more real when he says it out loud. We’ve assumed he’ll likely step away when his son Buddy is done playing at SU. However, that day may not come for another five seasons AFTER this one.
Boeheim is about to turn 73 in November, sure. But beyond the number and the preconceived notions around it, is there any real reason he “needs” to be done coaching?
Since turning 70, his Syracuse teams have gone 56-37 with a trip to the Final Four in there. There are other factors (NCAA-related) at play for the slight win percentage dip, though. His 60s saw what was arguably the best extended run of success he’s had with the Orange program, including seven trips to the NCAA Tournament, two Sweet 16s, an Elite Eight and a Final Four.
When you watched him make adjustments these past few seasons, it wasn’t a sign of a coach unable to change. Boeheim seemed to be energized by the challenge of some change. The recent recruiting uptick for the Orange shows a similar rejuvenation for the coach.
The only real consideration to be made about the end of his coaching tenure is where it leaves Mike Hopkins. Some of that worry was taken off the table this offseason when Hopkins himself departed to take over the Washington Huskies program. But given the length of contract (six years) and de-escalating buyout clause, one might assume the long-time Orange assistant eventually wants to make his way back to Central New York to take over at his alma mater.
Whether that’s true or not (he was the head coach-in-waiting for awhile) anymore, the immediate concern is gone -- for him, Jim and the school. It should be for us as fans, as well. Boeheim’s shown no signs of slowing down and until this basketball program exhibits real signs of pointing in the wrong direction, why lose faith that “forever” is the right call for his tenure?
Until he’s finally, actually done (something I doubt you’re getting much warning about in advance, by the way), enjoy what we have. Boeheim is an intrinsic part of Syracuse basketball, the surrounding community and even college hoops at large. No matter how curmudgeonly he may come off sometimes, it looks like no one’s going to chase that legacy out the door. And they shouldn’t.