Hop’s Here for Good: Syracuse Dodges Double Bullet in Filled SoCal Jobs

What were the odds USC & UCLA both are filled by someone other than Hop?


Syracuse basketball, for the long term, just dodged two big bullets. A pair of SoCal jobs in the Pac-12 opened, Syracuse was once again dancing deep into the tourney, and Cali native Mike Hopkins didn’t nail either. For those of us in Orange Nation that believe he will be a fine successor to Jim Boeheim, this is a big victory.

Rumors surfaced early in the month connecting Hop to the USC job. There are some that believe the Trojans are a sleeping giant, located in the heart of elite recruiting country, and deep athletic budgets. But the Trojans passed on Hop and hired Andy Enfield, the hot new commodity that led FGCU to the Sweet 16. Nice buzz, fun style of play… but does he really have the resume Hop does?

Jim Boeheim doesn’t think so.

“Mike is 10 times better than anyone they could have hired. I’m not disappointed because he’ll be coaching here soon.”

Ben Howland went to three straight Final Fours, but the magic waned in Westwood and UCLA decided to go in a different direction. The Bruins also ignored Hop and went with a coach, Steve Alford, known more for NITs and early round exits than anything else. UCLA will always be a college hoops gem, and maybe it needed a bigger name. But did another tourney choke job impress the Bruins more than Hop’s time under The Per’fesser?

There’s no guarantee Hop was a serious candidate for either job. But he comes with great credentials, and Syracuse recruiting has never been healthier. While he doesn’t have head coaching experience, he’s a native SoCal kid, meaning he’d likely be in it for the long haul and would understand the landscape far better than Indiana-bred Alford or Pennsylvania boy Enfield.

The fact that Boeheim said “he’ll be coaching here soon” makes you wonder about the unspoken agreement we’ve all assumed is true. When JB leaves, Hop gets the gig no questions asked. There’s no search, no outside candidates. Just Hop. Boeheim told Ian O’Connor at the Big East Tourney a few seasons ago he wouldn’t be on that same podium, answering the same questions “four years from now.” Well, that hour glass is almost up.

It doesn’t quite feel like Boeheim is on his way out, unless he wins the title and wants to go out in style. The program is too good. This must be so energizing for him.

So there was always the possibility Hop got itchy and jumped at one of the SoCal schools. They were both open the same month SU was going back to the Final Four. He was once again a top candidate. He’s still an Orange. If he didn’t leave now, it’s probably never going to happen. And that’s good news for SU.

Posted: D.A.

12 Comments on this Post

  1. If Syracuse wins the National Championship game on Monday I would think that Coach Boeheim get’s real serious about retirement.

    Coach Hopkins has put in his due. He’s been here for the last 20 years and Boeheim knows that it’s time for the kids to take the program over. Hopkins,Autry and McNamara will take Syracuse to unprecedented levels of success.

    Giving the reins to the program over to Hopkins after winning another title(retirement)is going to secure his legacy as one of the best ever to coach the game. I will miss him for all that he’s done for the City of Syracuse,Syracuse University and the game of basketball.

    I wish him well.

  2. Andrew

    @ Ron

    I wish it would end up that way but I still see Boeheim wanting to coach in the ACC and get to 1000 wins.

    I can only hope that Hopkins sticks around long enough to become the head coach, but I can see Boeheims agenda being too much for him.

    Hopkins SHOULD be a head coach by now.

  3. Love Hop!! Can recruit but can he coach??? We really don’t know that yet!!

    PS Must have to wait until Tuesday(4/9) for SUFB info!! Running a shut out here lately. And yes you should concentrate on SUBB because of the Final 4 no doubt. BUT……….!!!

  4. Terry, relax…

  5. AnaheimOrange

    @Jax32 – hahaha! Terry is the consummate SU football junkie!

  6. xcuseme96

    Glad Hop is still here.
    Maybe the fact that we are in the final 4 made them itchy to choose another candidate.
    Can’t help it but I read “Indiana-bred” and IN-bred. Did that cross anyone else’s mind?

  7. USC has made a huge mistake Mike has a ton of Jimmy style and knowledge on the use of the zone and its components.Add that to his style of coaching he probably has been refining these years here. We will have a step in the job with very little if any noticeable drop in quality in the program.

  8. Carlton

    I wonder what happen behind close doors. UCLA was never an option for hop b/c he’s not a big name an has not been a head coach. I really wonder if hop was asked the question if JB retired in a few yrs if he would bail on USC? Or at the very least that wasn’t part of their thought process when they made their choice. Lets face it if he did leave do any of u think hop would have turned SU down if they came knocking? I doubt it. USC is never going to be the power SU is in basketball an a lot of that has to do /w the huge shadow that UCLA casts in that state when it comes to hoops.

  9. Of course, now he’s the leading candidate for Rutgers.

  10. saltine44

    How about this, if SU wins the Natl Title on Monday……….Tuesday he becomes the SU Athletic Director who in turns hires Mike Hopkins as the new mens basketball coach. How does that sound?

  11. Like steak and hamburg. Both sports are very similiar but steak(SUFB) is just better tasting than a hamburger!! Its just the caveman in me!!

  12. @saltine44;

    I like that idea. I like it a lot.

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