Syracuse Basketball: Could Jim Boeheim successor be outside SU family?

Syracuse basketball, Jim Boeheim (Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images)
Syracuse basketball, Jim Boeheim (Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images) /

Syracuse basketball boss Jim Boeheim, in just a few short weeks, will roam the sidelines as the Orange’s head coach for his 47th year at the helm in Central New York.

Boeheim, whose first losing season ever as the team’s head coach came during the 2021-22 campaign when the ‘Cuse went 16-17, has a current roster that features a blend of several veterans and a whole lot of underclassmen, including a six-member 2022 recruiting class.

Boeheim has said that he knows when he will retire, and that a succession plan to replace him as Syracuse basketball head coach is in place. Of course, none of that is getting shared with the public, at least for now anyway.

Boeheim has also said that he thinks the best approach is for the Orange’s next head coach to be someone who already is part of the Syracuse basketball family, rather than an outsider.

I agree with Jim Boeheim here, although some of my fellow ‘Cuse fans would like the program to start fresh, so to speak, after Boeheim calls it quits.

Things will be quite different when Syracuse basketball head coach Jim Boeheim hangs up his whistle.

The debate over when Boeheim will retire, and who will replace him, is a hot-button topic and has been going on for years. I feel like the discussion has become more heightened lately, given the Orange’s losing campaign in 2021-22.

What’s more, since the ‘Cuse joined the Atlantic Coast Conference from the Big East Conference in 2013-14, the team has slogged through numerous sub-par regular seasons and recruiting has taken a dip, even as Syracuse basketball made a few deep runs in March Madness.

One would assume that the next ‘Cuse head coach will be one of the three present assistants. Many Orange fans believe Adrian Autry is Boeheim’s likely replacement, with the other Syracuse basketball assistant coaches being Gerry McNamara and Allen Griffin.

As much as I love former long-time assistant Mike Hopkins, I don’t see him returning to the Hill. Hop, as we all know, is the head coach at Pac-12 Conference member Washington.

In a recent article from ESPN writer Myron Medcalf, Boeheim said in part regarding his retirement, “I think, realistically, I’m pretty close.”

"Then again, one of Boeheim’s sons, former Syracuse basketball graduate student forward Jimmy Boeheim, told ESPN of his father, “I think he almost loves it now more than ever. I know he won’t coach a day longer than he doesn’t feel that. He wouldn’t shortchange his players or his fans.”"

Hiring from within to replace a legendary head coach can prove successful, but it’s no guarantee. Sure, first-year head coach Hubert Davis took North Carolina to the NCAA Tournament championship game this past spring after replacing Roy Williams.

But what Davis did in his first stanza in Chapel Hill, N.C., while pretty remarkable, doesn’t always, or even often, occur when an assistant coach is named to replace a long-time head coach.

"In the ESPN story, Syracuse University athletic director John Wildhack said, “I think there are advantages to that, if the coach has been there, they’ve played there, they’ve coached there, they understand the culture of the department, culture of the community, culture of the university. But it’s not a prerequisite, per se. It’s not a requirement. … We’re blessed. We’ve got three really, really terrific assistant coaches.”"

I have absolutely no inside information about Jim Boeheim and who his eventual successor will be. If I had to venture a guess, I think he will coach for two more seasons, maybe three.

Do I think that the next head coach in Central New York will be one of Boeheim’s current assistants? I do. My money is on Autry.

Do I feel that Syracuse basketball would be better off hiring an outsider to replace Boeheim? Personally, I don’t. But I do understand that some fans would like a completely new coaching staff on the Hill once Boeheim is gone. I just can’t see that happening.

Former Orange guard Eric Devendorf said to Medcalf, “Before (Boeheim) moves on, he’s going to make sure Syracuse is in a good place, where it can continue to have success. Is it going to be the same? No. My man’s been doing it for 45 years. So it’s going to be a little bit different.”

For better or for worse, and whether it’s inside or outside the Syracuse basketball program, Eric has it right. Once Jim Boeheim retires, things are going to be different. A whole lot different, in my humble opinion.

Next. Syracuse Basketball: Projected starting rotation 2.0 for the 2022-23 season. dark