In the aftermath of Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim's retirement rant, here's what he -- and his wife -- said to me last week about retirement and an ACC future. (These were comments I gathered in preparation for a potential SI cover story had Syracuse won the national title).
Q: Are you going to coach next year?
Boeheim: I can't see why not. I've enjoyed our team and I like the team we have coming back next year. Are there times when I don't like my job? Yeah. Don't you have those times? [Gonzaga coach] Mark Few is a good friend of mine. He called me during the season and said, 'I'm not looking forward to practice every day.' I said, 'I don't look forward to practice every day, either. It's hard.' I don't see why I won't coach next year.
Q: What if you won the title?
Boeheim: I've always thought that kind of thinking was a mistake. If you win, and you really want to keep coaching, why wouldn’t you keep coaching? If you lose and you don’t want to coach anymore, why would you keep doing it? Either way, that shouldn't be a determining factor.'
Q: Are you really looking forward to playing in the ACC?
Boeheim: I'm going to miss the OLD Big East, but we're moving into a great conference. A really, great conference. We'll be playing twice against Boston College, Pittsburgh, Louisville.... so the travel won't be as different as some people have been saying. Some years we won't play Carolina.
Now Juli Boeheim, his wife of 15 years (again, before the loss to Michigan):
"We've been married 15 years and I've been hearing 'five more years' for all of those years.'' [Jim Boeheim is 68]. "Now I'm hearing year to year and he truly is on a year-to-year basis. If he's not feeling it at some point, he will make that decision. I don't know if he knows yet when that will be. I don't think he would ever stay too long. He loves Syracuse too much.''
Juli Boeheim said the postseason was a surprise and a joy for her husband. Upon landing in Syracuse after the East Regional win last weekend, Boeheim drove the family to IHOP and they all ate pancakes in the middle of the night. "There's been a hop in his step this spring,'' Juli said. "But the other customers in IHOP looked at us like they had seen aliens.
"When he does decide to retire,'' Juli said, "I hope people say 'Please don't go.' I hope they don't wait until he's long gone to appreciate him. Mike Hopkins will be a great coach, but Syracuse will never see this again. 900 wins at one school? Never.''