Now that it is officially official and Mike Hopkins will be the next head coach at SU, maybe Coach Boeheim’s time will come to an end sooner than expected. Of course, Boeheim says he “intends” to retire in 3 years, based on the announcement of the NCAA Sanctions last March.
I’ve long held the belief that this would be his final year, and in fact thought he would have retired by now before I headed up to SU—that thought was actually backed up by Boeheim himself in his news conference on March 19th. So now that he is assured that Mike Hopkins will be the next coach, what is stopping him from heading out a few years ahead of plan?
First, Boeheim mentioned in that news conference that he doesn’t want a Derek Jeter-style farewell tour and said that he doesn’t expect to be cheered in any visiting arena. So, why then would you set a potential walk-away date of the end of the 2017 season? While he may not get the Jeter-style send off from his ACC foes, there are some places that would likely be sentimental visits, and he would most definitely be asked about his “final visits” by the media at each of these games.
Next, you think about the circumstances this coming year. Boeheim will get a little taste of retirement with a nice break the month of January—still possible that gets shortened as the coach appeals his NCAA issued suspension. He is coaching a team that is full of a highly touted recruiting class, and they are allowed back in the postseason. This past year the ACC proved difficult for a mediocre SU team to navigate, and it is possible the program is headed that way again, save for some major internal improvements.
Another aspect has to be the milestone aspect. With the wins taken away by the NCAA, Boeheim will never officially reach 1000 wins, although we will likely celebrate his 1000th when he wins another 30-something games and gets to the number before the vacated wins. Also, this upcoming season is the 40th that Boeheim will spend as the head coach at SU. Not many major college basketball coaches can say they spent 40 years at one school as the head coach. In fact, there is just one other: Adolph Rupp who served as the Kentucky head coach for 41 seasons—Coach K is 5 seasons shy of 40 at Duke as well. Bottom line is, the list isn’t very long, even if you expand the search to lower levels of D-I, D-II, and D-III, there are still just a handful of coaches ever to spend 40 years at one school.
Lastly, there is a nice little retirement trip waiting for Coach Boeheim. He is set to be an assistant to Coach K for Team USA in the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Another gold medal to add to the medal case would be a nice way to go out.
Look, I don’t have any inside information, and it is just putting the pieces together. Boeheim could be content on sticking around for 3 more seasons, but he has said he would have been out of Syracuse earlier if not for the sanctions, and with the news that Mike Hopkins is taking over, this season feels like the end for the coach.