As soon as this season ends for the Syracuse Orange, we’re going to have an elephant in the room. A very big, sometimes nose picking elephant. James Arthur Boeheim, the greatest head coach in Syracuse basketball history (and among the best to ever do it anywhere), will hang up his technicolor dome-coat and no longer be head coach at the completion of the 2017-18 season. Yet everyone has this idea that, well, he won’t. Why?
That’s what SU grad Pete Thamel decided to muse about in a very fair, but most definitely poke-the-bear kind of way in his most recent post for SI. In case you missed the ESPN ad (unlikely), four of the greatest coaches and faces of college basketball square off on Wednesday: Jim Boeheim vs Mike Krzyzewsk & Roy Williams vs Rick Pitino. All four are close to the ends of their careers (all have also talked about the end of their careers) and all four lead relative bluebloods of the sports.
Now before I end up on the receiving end of a viral YouTube clip, let me use my human shield Thamel to bring up the questions everyone has been asking:
There’s a plan in place for Hopkins to take over at the start of the 2018 season. Syracuse athletic director John Wildhack reiterated that publicly as recently as earlier this month. The reality here is that Boeheim was essentially forced out because of Syracuse’s significant NCAA issues. This doesn’t sit well with him. People close to him still hold the belief that he’ll somehow figure out a way to coach past next season. (Boeheim has remained relatively quiet on the topic, saying little publically about the transition to Hopkins.) The read here is that it offends Boeheim’s ego and competitiveness that he’s being told to leave a place that he willed into being a top-echelon college job in his 41 seasons as head coach.
Sorry that’s long, but it gets to the heart of the issue facing Boeheim that the other aren’t dealing with. Jimmy B is on a set clock that’s almost at midnight. Everyone, whether we’ve said it or not, has some level of skepticism over said clock. The article is worth your time, but Thamel openly voices this skepticism and adds that the prevailing thought from “sources” is that Boeheim wants to plan his own exit. Shocking.
At the end of the day, none of this is surprising: we’ve all seen excerpts (or read) his book, seen the press conferences and heard enough quotes to know Jim Boeheim does what Jim Boeheim feels is right.
No one else with the exception of maybe Juli Boeheim can do much to change that. The NCAA Infractions are what they are, but the man the NCAA pinned them to has adamantly stated that he didn’t cheat. And most importantly, Jim Boeheim has never been afraid of doing things the way he has. It’s why we as a fan base adore him and why he loves Syracuse right back.
We’ve asked this pretty regularly, but what do you think? Is Boeheim really going to do the retirement tour next season? Or are we going to watch him do the most Boeheim thing and defy what other people have planned for him?