Orange Watch: With Hopkins leaving Syracuse, a look back at March 19, 2015

Hopkins is on his way out of Syracuse
Hopkins is on his way out of Syracuse

Item: Our initial reaction to Sunday’s announcement that Head Coach-Designate Mike Hopkins is leaving the program after 21 years on Jim Boeheim’s bench to take over as head coach at Washington was not that of surprise, despite the much ballyhooed succession plan that was put in place, but had us thinking back to that Boeheim press conference at the Dome March 19, 2015 in which he bared his soul covering a number issues surrounding the NCAA sanctions and his future retirement.

Among the quotes from Boeheim back then that stand out today:

“Chancellor Syverud will hire the next coach. It’s his decision who the next coach will be. I have talked to him about it.

I believe Mike Hopkins would be a great coach and I fervently hope that he is the coach here but that is something the Chancellor will decide with the board of trustees like they decide every major issue that happens at Syracuse University.”

And this segment has also stuck in the back of our mind since that press conference:

“The Final Four in 12 (was actually 2013) would have been a great time to go out, but things were not in a position to go out. I love coaching, but I think, and you can coach as long as you can be effective.

If after this coming year, I thought I was effective this year (2014-15). I don’t think I was as good as I would have liked to have been, but I think I was effective.

If I’m not effective at the end of next year (2015-16 Final Four season) I won’t coach after next year. The three year thing is the outside part of what I’m doing. I told every recruit we recruited this year I’m going to be here next year but beyond that, I have no plans. But three years, that’s a long time.”

» Related: Mike Hopkins to leave Syracuse, take over at Washington

So here we are about to begin the cycle of that third year Boeheim alluded to two years ago, and based on what’s transpired with Hopkins removing himself from the intended succession plan, we now know as of Sunday evening’s announcement from the University that there’ll be several more than just the “three years” after Boeheim enthusiastically agreed to a contract extension beyond 2018 and assistants Red Autry and Gerry McNamara were each promoted up a notch with respect to their tenures on the staff.

The quick response by the Chancellor and AD John Wildhack nailing down program continuity only a few hours after Washington officially introduced Hopkins via its website and social media, was a clear message to the recruits in the pipeline over the next several classes: You’ll be coached by a Hall of Famer, and you’ll be (hopefully) playing in a renovated Dome home court.

Having finished runner-up to Andy Enfield for the USC job in 2013, and eyeing rare, multiple attractive Pac 12 vacancies (California and Washington) in large markets with programs that have competitive budgets to go after Arizona, Oregon and UCLA, west coast native Hopkins, as he referred to in his first official UW statement Sunday, simply had to pounce on the security of a reported six year deal to benefit his career professionally and growing family personally.

It was quite a spinning “day after” the season’s abrupt conclusion, a milestone change with the departure of the expected future coach, and the extended tenure of the Boeheim era.

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About Brad Bierman 848 Articles
Now in his sixth 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.