Before anyone gets uppity, this is not a “fire Jim Boeheim” hit piece. We all know he’s got at least one more year left in him.
However, different coaches see things in different ways. As do the athletic departments, players and communities that revolve around their actions. Coach Boeheim apparently has a succession plan in place, so there’s obviously been communication when it comes to his retirement. But how does the man that built the Syracuse program brick by brick want to go out? Various honored figures, coaches and players alike, have tried different strategies to varying levels of success. Let’s explore the ways Jim Boeheim could possibly retire.
The Retirement Tour
Coach K. Elton John. Kobe Bryant. “This is my last season” is a phrase which causes three things. Drama, reverence and heightened expectations. While Elton John’s stop in the Dome is going to be one to remember, if the legendary singer doesn’t play every hit he ever made, fans might be disappointed. Kobe played his last season with an absolutely terrible Lakers team, and while he put up a great performance in his final game, it didn’t seem right that a player known for amazing playoff performances didn’t make the postseason in his last year. We all saw how Krzyzewski’s retirement tour turned out. Everything was championship or bust. Every game was a three-part epic, with serenades and ESPN specials left and right.
Here’s the thing: Jim Boeheim is not a drama queen. He doesn’t want bells and whistles. He just wants to win. It seems very un-Boeheim-like to spend a whole season in the spotlight. And his team just doesn’t have the talent next year to have a season worthy of a retirement tour.
Verdict: Highly Unlikely
The Thought-Out Step Away
The Roy Williams approach. One random day in July, the head coach steps up to the podium for a frantically organized press conference after there’s a leak on Twitter… “BREAKING: Sources say…”
To the general public, it just kind of happens. For those who have followed and know the program, things have been leaning this way since about the month of February. The coach might not’ve had the best season in the world, but it just feels right to step away. This definitely seems to fit more of the Boeheim mold, especially with the talk of succession plans and the 2022 recruiting class being his best ever. Once he gets these freshmen on the right path, maybe he lets an assistant take over next summer.
Verdict: Very Possible
Flash in the Pan
Another possibility, but one you rarely see in sports today. Boeheim sits down after the final game of the 2022-23 season and lets the media and world know he’s calling it quits. This would be more of a snap decision, as in Jim talks about it with Juli the week before, and then maybe tells John Wildhack the day of the game. As Boeheim’s gotten older and older, his press conferences have become more ambiguous and less focused, as he chews out a random reporter or bemoans a mask mandate. But this would be the presser to top all pressers. Jim would announce his retirement, say, “I’m only talking about the game,” then give 8 non-answers and leave the podium.
Verdict: Don’t call me crazy
Finally, the worst case scenario. Jesse Edwards can’t find his form after the season-ending wrist injury, Benny Williams doesn’t develop at all over the offseason and the freshmen barely see any run, leaving Joe Girard to carry a listless team with barely any scoring punch and no rebounding ability. Jim gets very cranky early on in the season, and future recruiting classes fail to materialize. There are more questions than answers after the non-conference games; those questions get answered negatively in 40-point outings against Virginia in January, and sad losses to Boston College and Clemson. Wildhack and the boosters get tired. Jim is ushered out after 2023-24 – it’s called a retirement, but it doesn’t feel like one.
No matter how bad the situation becomes, Jim Boeheim will always have the ability to step away on his own terms. If anyone had to pick today, planned press conference seems the most likely (just don’t ask any questions about whether Joe Girard could play the point).