Orange Watch: Will Jim Boeheim really coach Syracuse basketball three more seasons?

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Despite a stated intention to coach three more years, Jim Boeheim has also hinted that after 2015-16, nothing’s guaranteed about his return to the sidelines

(Editor’s note: Over the summer, leading up to the football preview on Aug.25, Orange Watch has been highlighting various antidotes related to Syracuse athletics.)

When Jim Boeheim revealed publicly at his hour long press conference on March 19 that he “planned” to coach three more years through the 2017-18 season, and that he would have likely retired after the surprise run to the Final Four in 2013 had it not been for the pesky intrusion of the NCAA investigation into the athletic program, we got an inside look at the thought process Boeheim utilized that now leads to embarking on his unimaginable 40th season running ‘Cuse hoops.

Forward three months later, and several days after the June introduction of new AD Mark Coyle came the official university confirmation that Mike Hopkins is the basketball head coach in-waiting. With (pending appeal) a built in nine game litmus test for Hopkins against tough ACC competition coming up this winter, Orange Nation will have a much better feel for what it’s going to be like with Coach Hop directing from the sideline, and in this day and age of instant, real time reaction, it won’t take long to gauge the Nation’s pulse concerning the future of SU basketball.

“I told every recruit when I recruited them, ‘I’m going to coach you next year,’” Boeheim said back on the day the NCAA Tournament’s second round got underway. “And after that, I can’t guarantee anything and no other coach can, either.”

» Related: 40 seasons of highs, lows in Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim’s career

Coach Boeheim will soon be 71 years old (Nov. 17), and practice gets underway in a month and a half for his 47th school year is which he has been employed by his alma mater in one coaching capacity or another. Besides the fact that there are many unknowns about the 2015-16 Orange and how the season will play out, for all of the professional accomplishments that accompanying a Hall of Fame career for establishing the Syracuse basketball brand into the fifth all time winningest program, building on the foundation paved by his predecessors and mentors Fred Lewis and Roy Danforth, what else is there left to achieve, especially at a point in time when most folks would be well into a happy retirement enjoying family, friends, and in Boeheim’s case, golf?

“The Final Four (in 2013) would have been a great time to go out,” Boeheim reflected in March. ”I had no plans to coach this long, the (NCAA) investigation has made it imperative.”

While the university awaits news of its appeal of the NCAA sanctions, likely to come before the upcoming season gets underway, Boeheim seems certain to miss at least several games providing a preview of Coach Hop in charge, then following the season he will resume his USA Basketball assistant coach duties heading into the 2016 Summer Olympics at Rio de Janeiro to be held next Aug. 5-21.

After he returns to Syracuse and campus we have this gut feeling that Boeheim will inform his inner circle that needs to know of the decision, and then shortly after Labor Day will hold a press conference to announce his retirement and the permanent hand-off to Hopkins. Let’s say somewhere right around Sept. 8, 2016.

“If I’m not effective at the end of next year (2016), I won’t coach after next year,” Boeheim said in a self-evaluation during the March press conference. “The three year thing (timeline) is the outside part of what I’m doing. I told every recruit that we recruited this year (the incoming class of freshmen) that I’ll be here next year (the upcoming season) but beyond that, I have no plans. Three years…that’s a long time.”

Reading between the lines, we feel the answer to our headline question is, “no.”

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Brad Bierman

About Brad Bierman

Now in his fifth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.
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