Let there be no doubt. If it wasn’t already understood before, it should be now. Jim Boeheim carries the most clout in Central New York. He possesses more power at Syracuse University than Kent Syverud and John Wildhack and he has more influence in the city of Syracuse than Stephanie Miner.
That’s not earth shattering information. It was already widely understood. But with Mike Hopkins’ departure and Boeheim’s contract extension, no doubt should remain who holds the most leverage in Syracuse. And all of the aforementioned is great for Syracuse basketball.
We can play the chicken or the egg game all we want, but what remains likely is that Boeheim doesn’t want to hang it up just yet and wants to retire on his own terms. Boeheim himself and Syracuse Athletics will say otherwise.
“At no time – let me make this clear – did I ever think I was not going to be done next year,” Boeheim said at yesterday’s presser. “That never has entered my mind. And anybody that would write that, is writing fiction.”
If that’s the case, get me to Hogwarts and call me J.K. Rowling because I buy not even one iota of that assertion. Is it possible that Hopkins truly wanted to start his own program in Seattle just one year away from taking over a top ten brand in college basketball? I suppose. Probable? Unlikely. But I’m not writing to ridicule the lip service. I’m writing to say how great this is for Syracuse basketball.
Let me start by acknowledging that I’m aware that my viewpoint is different and that I understand why some people are angry about Jim’s extension. I also believe that my view probably represents the minority. Nonetheless, no matter how popular or different your view, I encourage you to share it in the comments section.
Over the years I’ve noticed a divide — but not an enmity — amongst the Syracuse fan base. It’s not exclusive to two camps, but I believe a chasm exists between those who attend Syracuse University as transplants from other parts of the country and those who are originally from the city of Syracuse.
To those from Syracuse, the basketball program elicits a sort of regional chauvinism — Syracuse denizens identify themselves with Syracuse basketball and consequently, Syracuse University. To those who attend Syracuse, it’s an identity formed solely with the University — students and alumns are proud of their education and school. It’s an ironic dichotomy as the two different groups who identify themselves with dissimilar views are brought together over the very same thing: Syracuse basketball.
I was born in Syracuse. The influence of the Syracuse basketball program is ubiquitous in Central New York. It’s apropos of nothing else I’ve ever experienced or seen in my life. I’m sure people feel similarly about soccer in Europe, cricket in Australia or even basketball in Big Blue Nation, but Syracuse is unique to me.
I watched Syracuse win the National Title in 2003 when I was just 11 years old. That moment alone fostered my love for basketball. I grew up attending Jim’s basketball camp over the years, attending games and even being lucky enough to have friends connected to the program. As a young, impressionable kid, I naturally idolized Syracuse basketball. I’ve played ball my entire life and many of my most meaningful friendships have been centered around the sport of basketball, all influenced by Jim and Syracuse.
All this to say: Where some see Boeheim as a caustic crab (that’s actually the most effin’ funny thing I’ve ever heard anyone call Boeheim), I see someone who built this Syracuse program from the ground up, brick by brick. I see someone who put the city of Syracuse on the map. One of the few reasons anyone outside of Syracuse knows its name or geographical location, is because of Jim. While some, not all, feel as though Jim should hand over the keys, I feel it’s only right he go out on his own terms.
(After all, I did just write a few weeks ago how you’re going to miss him when it’s all said and done)
That’s not to absolve Jim of past wrongs, his “failure to monitor” the Syracuse basketball program, or his harsh words in post-game pressers. It’s more so to share my vantage point which happens to be seen through
rose orange colored glasses.
I truly believe that Hopkins would have been a fine successor to Jim. But the fact of the matter is that Syracuse basketball is 28-28 in the ACC over the past three seasons. This is unchartered territory for Syracuse as it explores new waters in the nation’s best conference. All in the wake of an NCAA investigation. Who better to captain the Syracuse ship than the skipper himself?
Syracuse will be better served in both the short and the long haul with Jim here just a bit longer. And if not for just a bit longer, let the Syracuse basketball and Jim Boeheim matrimony reign on. Until death do us part.