The fact that I don't even remember the last time Syracuse was in the CBS Sports Top 25 And 1 daily college basketball rankings illustrates that it was time for Jim Boeheim to move on. The program he'd built into a national brand in the 1980s, and kept at or near the tip-top of the sport for roughly three decades, had undeniably slipped in recent years, finishing sixth-or-worse in the ACC in nine straight seasons. Broadly speaking, the Orange had become irrelevant while limping to a 56-56 league record over the past seven years. So everybody knew the day had come for Boeheim to be replaced — but whether it would happen remained a mystery until Wednesday night, when the school announced the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame coach would not return for a 48th season shortly after a final-second loss to Wake Forest in the ACC Tournament that was followed by an awkward press conference during which Boeheim hinted that he was done as Syracuse's coach but still couldn't quite say the words.
It was a perfect ending, really.
Boeheim was never going to exit gracefully with a prepared statement and nothing but gratitude. More likely, he was going to have to be nudged out after consecutive disappointing seasons and a contentious press conference — and that's exactly what happened. At the age of 78, Boeheim concluded a glorious career leading his alma mater, not with a celebration on campus but with a press release posted to Twitter that didn't even include a quote from the man who guided Syracuse to five Final Fours and the 2003 national championship. On some level, it's sad. But Boeheim is literally the only person on Earth who had the power to make this transition go smoothly. Unsurprisingly, he just couldn't bring himself to do it.
Either way, my experience with legendary careers is that, in time, people rarely focus on the end as much as they take a zoomed-out picture of its totality, and when we someday do that with Boheim, what we'll see is one of the greatest college coaching careers of all time. Understand, the man Boeheim replaced in 1976 left Syracuse for the same job and more money at Tulane — which is maybe the best way to contrast what Boeheim took over and what he eventually built, by pointing out how today it's simply unimaginable that somebody would ever leave Syracuse for Tulane.
The reason that's unimaginable is because of what Boheim built.
His excellence over decades is nearly unmatched.
Did he stay a few years too long? Yeah, probably. But when we're years removed from this and look back, most won't remember when it ended or how it ended as much as they'll remember how a man who was born 57 miles west of Syracuse built Syracuse into one of this nation's biggest collegiate brands. For that, Jim Arthur Boeheim Jr. will forever have legendary status, and I'm confident he'll be celebrated more properly on that campus in time, once all feelings connected to an awkward ending dissipate like they typically do.
Top 25 And 1 rankings
|Jamal Shead finished with 16 points and seven assists in Sunday's 67-65 win at Memphis. The Cougars are the No. 1 seed in the American Athletic Conference Tournament.||--||33-4|
|Jaime Jaquez Jr. finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds in Saturday's 82-73 win over Arizona. The Bruins are the No. 1 seed in the Pac-12 Tournament.||--||31-6|
|Dajuan Harris Jr. was 2 of 12 from the field in Saturday's 75-59 loss at Texas. The Jayhawks are the No. 1 seed in the Big 12 Tournament.||--||28-8|
|Alabama shot 19.4% from 3-point range in Saturday's 67-61 loss at Texas A&M. The Crimson Tide are the No. 1 seed in the SEC Tournament.||--||31-6|
|ZachBrandon Newman finished with19 points and five assists in Sunday's 76-71 win over Illinois. The Boilermakers are the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament. Brandon Newman finished with19 points and five assists in Sunday's 76-71 win over Illinois. The Boilermakers are the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament.||--||29-6|
|Tyrese Hunter finished with 20 points and three assists in Saturday's 75-59 win over Kansas. The Longhorns are the No. 2 seed in the Big 12 Tournament.||--||29-9|
|Kam Jones finished with 23 points and two assists in Saturday's 96-94 win over St. John's. The Golden Eagles are the No. 1 seed in the Big East Tournament.||--||29-7|
|Drew Timme finished with 18 points and six rebounds in Tuesday's 77-51 win over Saint Mary's. The Zags won the West Coast Conference Tournament.||--||31-6|
|Kansas State allowed the Mountaineers to shoot 50.8% from the field in Saturday's 89-81 loss at West Virginia. The Wildcats are the No. 3 seed in the Big 12 Tournament.||--||26-10|
|Jalen Bridges finished 1 of 9 from the field in Saturday's 73-58 loss to Iowa State. The Bears are the No. 4 seed in the Big 12 Tournament.||--||23-11|
|Jordan Hawkins finished with 24 points and four rebounds in Saturday's 71-59 win at Villanova. The Huskies are the No. 4 seed in the Big East Tournament.||--||31-8|
|Courtney Ramey was 2 of 11 from the field in Saturday's 82-73 loss at UCLA. The Wildcats are the No. 2 seed in the Pac-12 Tournament.||--||28-7|
San Diego St.
|Jaedon LeDee finished with 21 points and eight rebounds in Saturday's 67-50 win over Wyoming. The Aztecs are the No. 1 seed in the Mountain West Tournament.||--||32-7|
|Jordan Miller finished with 17 points and eight rebounds in Saturday's 78-76 win over Pitt. The Hurricanes are the No. 1 seed in the ACC Tournament.||--||29-8|
|Colby Jones finished with 20 points and eight rebounds in Saturday's 78-66 win over Butler. The Musketeers are the No. 2 seed in the Big East Tournament.||--||27-10|
|Wade Taylor IV finished with 28 points and three rebounds in Saturday's 67-61 win over Alabama. The Aggies are the No. 2 seed in the SEC Tournament.||--||25-10|
|Trayce Jackson-Davis finished with 27 points and nine rebounds in Sunday's 75-73 overtime win over Michigan. The Hoosiers are the No. 3 seed in the Big Ten Tournament.||--||23-12|
|Tennessee allowed the Tigers to shoot 49.1% from the field in Saturday's 79-70 loss at Auburn. The Vols are the No. 5 seed in the SEC Tournament.||--||25-11|
|Jayden Gardner finished with 16 points and four rebounds in Saturday's 75-60 win over Louisville. The Cavaliers are the No. 2 seed in the ACC Tournament.||--||25-8|
|Kyle Filipowski finished with 22 points and 13 rebounds in Saturday's 62-57 win at North Carolina. The Blue Devils are the No. 4 seed in the ACC Tournament.||--||27-9|
|Saint Mary's allowed Gonzaga to shoot 58.0% from the field in Tuesday's 77-51 loss to the Zags. The Gaels placed second in the West Coast Conference Tournament.||--||27-8|
|Kobe Brown finished with 17 points and seven rebounds in Saturday's 82-77 win over Ole Miss. The Tigers are the No. 4 seed in the SEC Tournament.||--||25-10|
|Emmanuel Miller was 3 of 11 from the field in Saturday's 74-60 loss at Oklahoma. The Horned Frogs are the No. 6 seed in the Big 12 Tournament.||--||22-13|
|Trey Alexander finished with 21 points and six rebounds in Saturday's 84-70 win at DePaul. The Bluejays are the No. 3 seed in the Big East Tournament.||--||24-13|
|Jaren Holmes finished with 16 points and seven rebounds in Saturday's 73-58 win at Baylor. The Cyclones are the No. 5 seed in the Big 12 Tournament.||--||19-14|
|Brooks Barnhizer finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds in Sunday's 65-53 win at Rutgers. The Wildcats are the No. 2 seed in the Big Ten Tournament.||--||22-12|