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CBS Sports guesses (again) at who could eventually (maybe) replace Jim Boeheim

It’s among the lowest of the low hanging fruit: Writing about who will eventually replace Jim Boeheim as Syracuse’s coach. Still, a column from CBS Sports did throw a new name into the old list of potential candidates.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Midwest Regional-Syracuse vs Duke
Jim Boeheim, Coaching Cyborg
Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Duke hype articles. Posts on how corrupt the game is and how the FBI, or the CIA, or the KGB are going to finally crack down on everyone. (Look out, they’re going to get you! Or not. Who knows?) And pieces on Jim Boeheim’s imminent retirement and/or his eventual replacement.

Those are the annual preseason college basketball narratives, the bedrocks, the story lines that must be explored like a kid pulling chocolate from a Christmas calendar on December days.

This time around, Matt Norlander of CBS Sports decided to look into the hoops crystal ball to see who could be the one who will (in the next two or three decades, maybe) take over SU hoops.

While incredibly overdone, the idea of who will be the next coach for Syracuse will forever be either interesting or terrifying for Syracuse Orange fans.

Can Syracuse be Syracuse without the guy who has been the leader for over four decades? As Norlander points out in his piece: between being a player, an assistant and head man, Boeheim has been a part of over 1,200 Syracuse victories. That level of success over that many years is simply jaw-dropping.

Sure, fans bleed orange, but James Arthur Boeheim has proven himself, over and over again, to actually be Orange. He’s not John Wooden or Mike Krzyzewski, but the kid from Lyons, NY is something of a basketball savant who just so happened to never want to be anywhere but Central New York. A basketball blessing that many people still likely take for granted.

So, is filling up the Carrier Dome on a winter’s night, top-25 rankings, and all of the consistent yearly hype maintainable after Boeheim retires. Really, I guess the true question here becomes: is all of the winning a byproduct of just Boeheim or will SU die on the vine after its savior steps aside?

That’s a tough one to answer. What’s not as difficult to figure out is Boeheim’s roadmap to finally step off into that sunset.

Anyone with an ounce of understanding about SU knows that Buddy Boeheim, the freshman and coach’s son who might will definitely not redshirt this season, is likely the biggest draw for pops to stay on board. The notion that Jim would leave before Buddy is done playing is laughable. Sure, health or other logical but unforeseen issues might force Jim from the sidelines. Yet, the most likely outcome is that Jim will call it a career when Buddy calls it a career on college.

Which all means that any speculation on who will be the next head coach has to be centered in the year 2022. Which also means that any speculation in the year 2018 has to be taken with a grain of salt. Or even a morsel of salt, really.

Still, Norlander gives us five potentials to replace Jim Boeheim. And four of them are not even remotely surprising. Let’s run through the list, shall we?

  • Mike Hopkins: Duh. He played for Boeheim, he was Boeheim’s assistant and he even toiled for years as the coach-in-waiting at Syracuse. Norlander writes, “{i}f Washington can make a couple of NCAA Tournaments between now and when Boeheim retires, Hopkins is going to have a decided edge.” No arguing that one. If Hop shows his worth short of winning an NCAA title, SU would kind of be crazy to not go all in on him. Furthermore, if Boeheim were to actually personally ask Hopkins to take over, how does the longtime Orangeman say no?

<Stephen A. Smith voice> Howeva! Norlander writes under the category “Why it wouldn’t be him” that Hop is a West Coast guy and, with the Pac 12 not being the ACC, maybe he’ll find it more navigable and more enjoyable in Seattle as opposed to going back to the east and trying to be the guy who replaced The Guy.

  • Adrian Autry: “Red” obviously has a similar background as does Hopkins, and as Boeheim in some key ways. Autry played at Syracuse and has now been an assistant with a pretty damn impressive record (175-75*). Norlander explains, “{w}ith Hopkins on the other side of the country, Autry is best positioned to inherit the program when Boeheim leaves.”

The fact that Autry has never been a head coach before unquestionably hurts him. Especially so if Syracuse ends up debating between him and Hopkins. But Norlander seems to indicate that it actually might be Autry who is now the unofficial head-coach-in-waiting: “Autry is in a good spot. It’s hard to hold his lack of head coaching eperiene aginst him; Hopkins was in the same position, albeit having served much more time as an Orange assistant, when he was tabbed as the heir apparent.”

  • Gerry McNamara: Played at Syracuse, is an assistanZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ. Oh, sorry, I nodded off there for a bit. Did I miss anything? No? Okay.
  • Rob Murphy: Finally, someone who didn’t play at Syracuse! Still, this is kind of an uninspired choice, too. Murph, Mr. Shut It Down, is an easy guy to root for in a college basketball world filled with Rick Pitinos. He coached here, he seemingly loved it here, and Murphy also appears to have a great relationship with Boeheim.

Then again, Eastern Michigan isn’t exactly the best breeding ground and Murphy hasn’t lit the world on fire over there either. “If Murphy plateaus at EMU and doesn’t make the NCAAs, it’s going to be a harder sell than going with an Autry or McNamara,” Norlander writes. Tough to disagree with that point.

  • Billy Donovan: WHOA! Okay then. That’s...that’s something! What the hell does the current Oklahoma City Thunder head coach have to do with Syracuse? I guess because he’s “originally from New York, albeit he grew up on Long Island.”

Ohhhh okay, maybe Syracuse should also offer Pat Riley because he once coached the Knicks? Hell, Steve Kerr has played and coached in the state multiple times, why not go after him?!

Donovan left a prime spot at the University of Florida to chase his NBA dreams. Unless he gets the boot, he ain’t leaving to go back down to college any time soon. On top of that, as Norlander states, “{h}e’d have to leave Oklahaoma City either the same year or the year before Boeheim retired.” Yup. That sounds like some real-life stuff.

In reality, it makes sense that one of the alum-assistants will eventually get the nod over anyone else, including random NBA coaches. Maybe. It also makes sense to not even worry about it right now, because we’re likely not close to seeing any of that happen any time soon.

Despite what you’ll read and hear this year, and next year, and the next year and... Boeheim isn’t likely to abdicate the Orange throne anytime soon.