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Jim Boeheim talks nicknames, paying players, 20-game ACC schedules

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If you’re giving the Syracuse coach the chance to freely opine on things, of course he’s going to take it.

NCAA Basketball: ACC Operation Basketball Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Wednesday was ACC men’s basketball media day (“Operation Basketball,” obviously) and the Syracuse Orange’s Jim Boeheim, Tyus Battle and Frank Howard were all in attendance down in Charlotte.

Frank and Tyus both had things to say, and we’ll get to them. But obviously the main event of any media day-type event is getting a microphone in front of Jim and just letting him “Boeheim” all over the place.

To little surprise, “Boeheim” he did this time around. We won’t hit on everything he said, but some of the more notable remarks:

On the forthcoming 20-game schedule

“I think for us it’s been difficult in the Big East when you had to go (to) Connecticut, Georgetown, St. John’s. And it’s just as difficult in the ACC with some of the games you can get.

... Any road games are going to be difficult. But the 20 games -- I’ve never been a big fan of going to 20. But it is what the league decided to do and that’s what we’re going to do.

It probably eliminates a non-conference game or two that you would challenge yourself at in terms of playing somebody that would be at a comparable level. But it’s the same for everybody. The early games. I’ve never been a big fan of playing early conference games. I like to get built up to it. But it’s what we’re all going to do. And we played really good, tough games early before. And that’s what we’ll have with this.”

Jim echoes a feeling we’ve mentioned previously, as have others. All this does is cut back on the marquee non-conference games. It’s not going to decrease lesser competition being put on the schedule because these coaches are obligated to win enough games to make the NCAA Tournament first and foremost. The expansion to 20 games for TV reasons is also bad, because it halves your inventory while adding conference losses. Perhaps this is walked back in a couple years? Who knows...

NCAA Basketball: Cornell at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Cornell doesn’t do nicknames?

Boeheim spoke to Syracuse.com’s Donna Ditota individually in Charlotte, and the topic of nicknames came up. Jim expanded upon Buddy Boeheim’s given name “Jack,” the fact that no one uses it, and how his whole family has nicknames...

“Teachers at school, friends, I don’t think anybody calls him (Jack). I never call him that. Juli gives nicknames to everybody. Buddy. Sissy (Buddy’s twin sister, Jamie). Jimmy is JJ, but he doesn’t have a great nickname. He’s at Cornell, they don’t go by nicknames at Cornell. He probably goes by James there.”

Would love to know if “they don’t go by nicknames at Cornell” is a fact or just something Jim decided was the case. Remarking he probably goes by James there is even subtle shade thrown toward the Orange “rival” Big Red in some ways. Despite being named after his dad, it does seem like Jimmy gets the short end of the stick here based on those remarks...

Paying players

Donna’s full transcript offers a lot on paying players, so read that. But looking at the main points:

Boeheim is for:

  • Increased paid meals (already in place)
  • Pay for full four years of education, whether they stay or not
  • No games over Christmas holiday, pay for students to travel home
  • Pay for parents to get to more games
  • Paid for use of likeness (locally)

Boeheim is against:

  • Player compensation from schools

Overall, a nuanced point of view there — though it’s in part based on Syracuse’s budget completely breaking even each year (which is the case if we assume the books are correct), and how there isn’t much additional money around. Seems there’s some, though, if we’re in favor of the paying for education, parent travel and holiday stuff.

Jim’s additional point about his time in the workforce has some merit, since one shouldn’t expect a teenager to be able to earn the same as a 50-year veteran. However, the less salient note is the one on whether players should make as much as the billionaire owners of sports teams. Some in the more emphatically pro-labor wing of this corner of the internet may argue, “yes, actually, they do deserve something a lot larger than what they currently take home by way of them being the athletes on the floor.” LeBron James makes a ton, but he could make a ton more without a salary cap. Anyway, moving on...

NCAA Basketball: St. Bonaventure at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Non-conference scheduling

Closing where we opened, sort of, Boeheim spoke to the larger group about how he schedules non-conference opponents. Unfortunately it did not veer into yesterday’s conversation at all. He does add this line, however, which is a subtle knock against the 20-game schedule and the idea that scheduling home games against some of SU’s foes is an “easy” strategy:

“We’re playing St. Bonaventure again. They beat us last year. So we’re trying to play as many challenging games as we can to help our strength of schedule but also to help our team get better. You can’t go out there against those teams and just show up. You’ve got to play. You’ve got to play really good basketball. It’s just as tough as playing a league game.”

You hear that last part, Pitt?