Syracuse Basketball: Jim Boeheim barely in ranking of top coaches – huh?

Syracuse basketball, Jim Boeheim (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Syracuse basketball, Jim Boeheim (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

As the 2022-23 season has just gotten underway, a national media outlet has published its list of the top head coaches in the sport of college basketball, and Syracuse basketball boss Jim Boeheim barely made the cut.

Okay, a couple of things here. Number one, these sorts of lists and rankings are subjective. Number two, the Orange in recent seasons hasn’t been the same sort of dominant team that it was from, say, 2009 to 2014.

During those years, the ‘Cuse was faring well in regular seasons and post-seasons, while accumulating 25 to 30 victories per year. Since 2014-15, the second stanza that Syracuse basketball was in the Atlantic Coast Conference after leaving the Big East Conference, the Orange has often slogged its way through regular campaigns.

At the same time, though, the ‘Cuse did reach a Final Four in 2016 (and 2013) as well as Sweet 16s in 2018 and 2021. After prevailing in the season opener last Monday at home versus Lehigh, Jim Boeheim now has 1,100 career wins (whatever, NCAA).

He also has a national title, five appearances in the Final Four, and 20 journeys to the Sweet 16. I know that I’m a homer, but Boeheim, to me, is still a great, great head coach. Naturally, though, we all have recency bias, and the Orange went a lackluster 16-17 in 2021-22.

The placement of Syracuse basketball head coach Jim Boeheim on a rankings list is puzzling.

So CBS Sports, led by a panel of Gary Parrish, Matt Norlander, Kyle Boone and David Cobb, recently unveiled its top 25 and 1 ranking of the top head coaches in college basketball for 2022-23.

Sitting at No. 1 is Kansas’ Bill Self. All good there. He just claimed a second NCAA title this past spring. He’s followed, in the top 10, by Mark Few of Gonzaga, Scott Drew of Baylor, John Calipari of Kentucky, Kelvin Sampson of Houston, Tony Bennett of Virginia, Tom Izzo of Michigan State, Bruce Pearl of Auburn, Mick Cronin of UCLA, and Eric Musselman of Arkansas.

I have no issues with a lot of the head coaches in the top 10. And, frankly, I don’t necessarily expect Jim Boeheim to reside in the top 10, given the Orange’s performances in recent years, even if he’s second all-time in career victories by a head coach in Division I men’s basketball.

Let’s look at some of the other head coaches ahead of Boeheim. Rick Pitino of Iona, Matt Painter of Purdue, Chris Beard of Texas, Rick Barnes of Tennessee, Leonard Hamilton of Florida State, Bob Huggins of West Virginia, Chris Holtmann of Ohio State, Tommy Lloyd of Arizona, Hubert Davis of North Carolina, Brad Underwood of Illinois, and Ed Cooley of Providence.

Pitino, really? I guess that’s fair. But Barnes? Huggins? I love the guy, but didn’t Syracuse basketball beat West Virginia in the 2021 NCAA Tournament? Holtmann is a good coach, but come on.

Lloyd and Davis have been head coaches for exactly one year, although both were fabulous in the first seasons at the helm of the Wildcats and the Tar Heels, respectively.

I’m a huge fan of Cooley, and Providence was great in 2021-22, but you’re really telling me that he’s a better coach than Boeheim?

Look, I’m an SU alumnus and a huge advocate of Boeheim. I know that some of my fellow Orange fans want him to retire. He will soon enough.

According to CBS Sports, “While each panelist brought their own criteria to the evaluation, the overarching theme was to rank the coaches off who is the best at running a program.”

Jim Boeheim may not be in the top 10 these days, but No. 22? I wholeheartedly, yet respectfully, disagree with that.

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