After a demoralizing loss like SU’s 60-44 one at Duke Saturday, Jim Boeheim’s usually pretty short and cryptic at the podium for his post-game press conference. However, the SU headman was actually behind the microphone for roughly 17 minutes on Saturday night. He surprisingly didn’t take the extra-time to bash a certain player this time around though. Instead, Boeheim went on a long rant about the state of college basketball after the latest developments in this FBI mess (or whatever you want to call it).
The Hall-of-Famer was very genuine and outspoken about the one-and-done rule, paying players, and the culture of college basketball in general. But, perhaps the most telling thing he said (quoted in the tweet below) is being overlooked.
Boeheim: the thing that ruins everything for me is when coaches get involved in this…it's hard to wrap your head around.
— Orange Fizz (@OrangeFizz) February 25, 2018
Of course he’s going to say coaches shouldn’t pay players? What’s the story here? Well, for one it matters because he went out of his way to say it and that’s the type of comment you probably wouldn’t say unless you know there’s zero chance you did anything wrong. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but that short comment makes me even more confident that Boeheim and Syracuse won’t be connected to this case at all moving forward.
Plenty of big-time programs have been linked already. Some like Arizona for very, very serious allegations and others like Duke and UNC for smaller infractions on a different scale. Regardless, the behind-the-scenes culture of college basketball is coming to light. That doesn’t mean I was just assuming Syracuse was going to be one of the next dominos to fall (although the handwritten “Gillon” maybe made me entertain the thought for at least a little bit). That being said, I don’t think many people realized the potential underlying message of that quote from Boeheim.
If the SU headman did get accused of any wrongdoing in the future, that quote would resurface instantly. It would be a practical joke and be reputation-damaging. So why would he risk that if there’s even a sliver of doubt in the back of his mind that he might get mentioned in this whole thing? It’s not like skeptics were already accusing him of dropping-bags and he felt like he needed to come out against them. It’s not like a reporter straight up asked him, “Jim how do you feel about coaches paying players?” and he was forced to give an answer on the topic. He brought it up on his own (if you haven’t seen it, here’s the clip below.)
To play devil’s advocate, I guess Jimbo could’ve said that knowing he’s tinkered with the rules but he’s been smart enough to keep himself distanced from the process to the point that he has some wiggle room. After all, this is all speculation so take it for what you think its worth.
I don’t know what the heck the next phase, document, or domino to fall in this unprecedented case will be. While I’ve seen some say this is only the beginning, my gut tells me this whole thing gets swept under the rug after some clever PR from the NCAA (which I obviously don’t think is the long-term solution.) Regardless, after hearing Boeheim’s press conference Saturday night, I think Syracuse fans shouldn’t worry too much.