The bombshell that Jim Boeheim will not be returning as Syracuse’s head coach and associate head coach Adrian Autry is taking over, has dominated the headlines in Central New York, and the entire sports landscape for the last 36 hours. But, with all the conversation about why Boeheim is out, how things ended, looking at his legacy, and what Autry can be, that leaves one critical person outside of the picture. Gerry McNamara.
After one of the most storied playing careers in SU history and becoming a fan favorite, the Scranton, PA native has been an assistant at Syracuse since 2011. He’s never coached anywhere else, it’s always been about the Orange. His number is now hanging from the rafters of the JMA Wireless Dome, and he’ll be forever immortalized. But, he won’t be the man roaming the sidelines.
When talk of Jim Boeheim’s successor came up over the last couple of years, an “ironclad plan” was what the former head coach referred to as his successor. Many thought it could have been McNamara, and there are rumors that Boeheim wanted it to be his former star guard, but instead, the administration wanted Autry, who played for Boeheim in the ‘90s, and is more experienced than McNamara.
That would be logical, considering the administration seemed pretty fed up with Boeheim and his antics at the end of the season, and why he shoved it back at them in his final press conference after the loss to Wake Forest on Wednesday, repeatedly claiming his future lied in the hands of the university. John Wildhack and Kent Syverud called Boeheim’s bluff, and showed him the door with a press release that did not have the word “retire” in it, nor did it include a statement from the 47-year head coach.
So, what does McNamara do now? It would seem unlikely he stays as an assistant for Autry when they were just contemporaries. Plus, if Autry is to be successful, he needs to perfectly blend a combination of the past and the future to make this job work, and build his own vision for the program. Who knows if McNamara wants to be a part of that?
The 2003 national champion seems ready at age 39 to lead a program, but who will give him a shot? At this moment in time, it sure seems like the speech he gave at last Saturday’s jersey retirement ceremony felt like a goodbye to the city that has given him all the love he could ask for. But, where to now?
It seems unrealistic McNamara would get a power-six job at this moment considering he’s never coached anywhere but Syracuse and under Boeheim. But, he has developed a plethora of guards in his time including Tyler Ennis, Tyus Battle, Buddy Boeheim, and more that have flourished in the ACC. So, what about a conference like the Patriot League? Bucknell has a head coach opening, and that’s not too far from where McNamara grew up. It would certainly seem to make sense and be a good starting point for his head coaching career.
All in all, it doesn’t seem likely that McNamara will be staying in Central New York for the start of the Adrian Autry era, and who can blame him? He waited around this long for a job he didn’t end up getting, so it’s time to let McNamara start his own trail, and see what he can do away from the program that he grew up under.