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College Basketball

Jim Boeheim Blames Everyone But Himself

Head Coach Jim Boeheim of the Syracuse Orange looks on during the second half against the Virginia Cavaliers at JMA Wireless Dome on January 30, 2023.
Bryan Bennett /Getty Images

In 2015, Syracuse announced that Jim Boeheim would retire in three years. That never happened. The longtime men's basketball coach just ... didn't do it. He signed an extension in March 2017 then stayed to coach his son Buddy. It is now 2023, Buddy's lost somewhere in the Detroit Pistons organization, and his dad's still coaching the Orange while remaining irritable as ever.

After Saturday's win over Boston College, the 78-year-old Boeheim told ESPN's Pete Thamel that he has no definite plans to retire and said he'd "probably" return for the 2023-24 season. If you hear him tell it, everywhere he goes, big strong Syracuse fans are telling him to keep coaching. From the article:

"Ninety-five percent of Syracuse people want me to coach," [Boeheim] said. "Why wouldn't they? As bad as we've been the last two years, we were fun to watch last year and we're still fun to watch and we're still competing. We just played three of the top teams in the country to a standstill. If you're getting beat by 20 by those teams, then you say, 'OK, we'll see.'"

Boeheim didn't specify, but the three teams he's referencing are probably Miami (four-point loss), UNC (four-point loss), and Virginia (five-point loss). I'm guessing he's skipping over the 15-point loss to Virginia Tech (4-8 in conference play after upsetting Virginia on Saturday).

Boeheim's teams are mediocre, but the excuses he makes are worse. Last season, Syracuse went 16-17 and missed the NCAA Tournament; this year, the Orange are 14-10 and have a very high chance of missing it again. The team hasn't done that in back-to-back seasons under Boeheim since 2007 and 2008. In the coach's eyes, the fault lies not with him but with the NIL deals that make it tough for him to draw talent to the school:

"This is an awful place we're in in college basketball," [Boeheim] said. "Pittsburgh bought a team. OK, fine. My [big donor] talks about it, but he doesn't give anyone any money. Nothing. Not one guy. Our guys make like $20,000. Wake Forest bought a team. Miami bought a team. ... It's like, 'Really, this is where we are?' That's really where we are, and it's only going to get worse."

He added: "It's crazy. That's why those guys got out -- that's why Jay [Wright] got out, Mike [Krzyzewski] got out. That's the reason they got out. The transfer portal and everything is nuts. It really is."

Wake Forest head coach Steve Forbes sounded annoyed when he heard about Boeheim's accusation. It's silly to use a team that's 15-9 and 7-6 in conference play as proof of the sport being broken, and even sillier in light of the recent report that Syracuse booster Adam Weitsman plans to shell out a couple million in order to keep the roster together and lure better recruits. That must've slipped under Boeheim's radar. He walked back some of his comments Sunday morning:

Beyond the results, Boeheim is embarrassing to have as the leader of a team. He's always had a reputation for antagonizing the press, which would be a good habit to shake when he's not winning. After Syracuse lost to Virginia this past Monday, student reporter Sam Corcoran asked Boeheim about the absence of forward Benny Williams. The coach gave a condescending answer then told Corcoran, "Your attitude isn't really good either."

Boeheim should speak for himself. About a week before that, he walked out of a presser when asked why his team couldn't close out games:

Boeheim's been a part of Syracuse in some form since 1962, and the school has let him call his own shots because of that longevity. As evidenced by his quotes and recent performance, his attitude toward the sport is causing him to be a step behind. That, in turn, means Syracuse's men's basketball program is a step behind. An old man griping about NIL is nothing new, but in this case, the old man is running a basketball program that desperately needs to adapt if it wants a chance in this new world.

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