Jim Boeheim is in his 46th season of coaching. With over 1000 losses doled out, he’s one of the greatest to ever do it, no doubt about it. Though all good things come to an end, and it’s quite possible the hall of famer’s reign will come to a close soon. So, who should succeed the greatest coach SU basketball has ever, and likely will ever have? Let’s look at the options:
Gmac is the fan-favorite pick for the job, as he’s probably the most beloved Syracuse basketball player of all time. He’s stepped up in the recruiting process over the past few seasons for SU, landing guard recruits such as Quadir Copeland of the incoming 2022 class, and Joe Girard. McNamara also received high praise from Buddy Boeheim that certainly raised his stock last Spring. When Syracuse went on its Sweet 16 run last March, Boeheim, who took the nation by storm averaging around 25 ppg in March continuously attributed his and the team’s success to McNamara’s coaching. At that moment the nation realized what SU had in the young coach. He deserves a shot somewhere, however, fans’ feelings toward him might be swaying their hopes to see him as the HC.
Coach Red has been around the program long than Mcnmara has, having been a player for Coach Boeheim back in the early 90s. He’s been a top recruiter under Boeheim for a while, having risen into that role after the loss of Mike Hopkins. Autry has nabbed some big recruits recently, the most notable being Benny Williams and 2022 commit Justin Taylor. It seems as if the SU fanbase is higher on McNamara than Autry, but there doesn’t seem to be much reason for that. Autry would certainly carry on the tradition and feel of the program as well or even possibly better than Mac would.
The bottom line though is that whenever this coaching change is finally made, Syracuse will clean house on the coaching end of things. This means that if John Wildhack picks One of these two guys over the other, the coach not picked for the job likely won’t be with the Orange going forward, and if they don’t pick someone in-house, they’ll likely both leave.
SU fans know this name all too well. Coach Boeheim’s right-hand man and top recruiter for years, Mike Hopkins was a quintessential part of the Syracuse basketball program. He’s credited with recruiting McNamara to Syracuse as well as developing young talented guards such as Jason hart, Allen Griffin, and Billy Edelin. You may remember that Hop had a chance to be the head man back in 2016 after Boeheim was suspended nine games. During that time SU went 4-5, but let’s not act like that was incredibly telling to his ability to lead SU. In 2017, Hopkins jumped ship to Washington where he won PAC-12 coach of the year twice and stole a massive recruit away from Boeheim and the Orange, Isaiah Stewart. Despite those COY awards, the Huskies program has struggled recently, having gone 34-51 over the last three seasons under Hopkins. When Coach Boeheim inevitably calls it quits, there’s a good chance Syracuse writes a blank check to Mike knowing that his recruiting prowess is too good to pass up, but there’s no guarantee he’d even think about that offer.
Imagine if SU went from one HOFer to another. Pitino is currently building up his image at Iona after being forced to leave Louisville. He’s doing a great job with the Gaels, they made the NCAA tournament as a 16 seed and won the MAAC in his first season as the head man last year. This season, things are even better, Iona is currently 24-5 including a big upset victory over Alabama. The Gaels will make the tournament with ease, and there’s a good chance Pitino will be ready to move closer to the top of the basketball world when it’s over. Why not turn SU’s program around?
The 1988 Lemoyne Dolphins men’s basketball coach, John Beilein was a tremendous college basketball coach. He made two final fours with Michigan and was at the top of his game when he made the mistake of leaving for the NBA. Beilein took the Cavaliers head coaching gig for the 2019-20 season in which Cleveland went 14-40 before the season was cut short. Now he works as the Senior Player Development Advisor for the Pistons. Syracuse would be a great place to return to college basketball, where he thrives so well. Sure it could be a challenge, but not many are better than Beilein when it comes to turning around struggling programs.