The comedy of errors that has been the Syracuse University men’s basketball season has added another layer to the onion as longtime assistant and “Coach in Waiting” Mike Hopkins has decided to jump ship and head for the greener pastures of the University of Washington. Hopkins is one of the most well-respected assistants in the game and has had his fair share of opportunities to jump to the head coaching ranks before now. So what gives? A year away from taking over what one would assume is his dream gig, Hopkins bails. Is this an indictment on his mentor and boss Jim Boeheim? Does it have something to do with the academic misconduct that the NCAA crucified Syracuse for two years ago (penalties that the ‘Cuse still feel today)? Was the money Washington was offering, along with a supposed six-year contract, too much to leave on the table?
Personally, I feel like Hopkins has grown tired of being the coach in waiting. While Boeheim was supposed to be hanging up his clipboard after next season, was that a guarantee? If we’ve seen anything over the last few years, it’s that Boeheim does what Boeheim wants to do, on his terms. There’s a great chance, in my opinion, that Boeheim would put the brakes on the retirement talk next year, especially if the Orange had another disappointing season. Hopkins couldn’t be the bridesmaid any longer, so he decided to get as far away from Syracuse and that coaching job as possible. Now, Hopkins can start building his legacy his own way, and not follow in the shadow of a coach that has seen the rise and fall of his program.
This is just another kick in the junk for a Syracuse basketball program that was supposed to have a great season this year. That was one of the best teams Boeheim ever had, according to the coach himself at the beginning of the season, but could never gel for long enough to make a case for their inclusion in the big dance. A couple signature wins does not a season make, as we saw this year. Now, the Orange are reloading again, with their fifth year senior transfers heading out, as well as maybe some of their young guns if they get the draft itch. Can Boeheim reload for another deep tournament run next year without his right hand man on the bench? And now, after Boeheim decides to finally retire (despite what he says, he’s closer than not due to age alone) where does Syracuse go from there? One of the most secure transitions in the sport was just turned on its head.
So, thanks Coach Hop, for all you did for the program while you were here. You are going to leave a massive hole at the university, but us here at Just Average Sports Guys would like to wish you the best of luck as a Washington Husky.