Big Changes At Syracuse… AD out, Boeheim in 3 years
With the recent NCAA violations and penalties, the fact that changes were in store for Syracuse is NOT surprising. And here they are. Syracuse athletic director, Darryl Gross, is resigning (you know how this works) as athletic director. The more surprising announcement is that Jim Boeheim will retire in 3 years. Here is the Confidential’s quick take.
1. Enough people have discussed the NCAA violations. Syracuse broke rules. The penalties are probably unduly harsh. They may be reduced during the appeal process. This happened on Gross’s watch. There is nothing left to say, other than nearly every athletic director overseeing a program that has this level of penalties will be lose his or her job. Gross’s specific involvement in some of the violations kept him from being on the “nearly every” side of this. It is what it is.
2. Syracuse probably could use some fresh blood in the athletic director chair anyway. Much like coaches seem to have a shelf-life these days, Gross rubbed a few folks the wrong way over the years. He accomplished quite a bit and deserves credit for same. But sometimes change is a good thing for all involved.
3. Syracuse football fans really need an A.D. who gets where Syracuse football truly is. This is not a program that is likely to compete for a national title. Given that… why is Syracuse football scheduling for schedule strength? The team needs to schedule for wins and player development. The ACC schedule is sufficiently challenging to get in the discussion in the nearly impossible even that Syracuse goes 12-1. In the meantime, focus on being bowl eligible every year. 2015 is a step in the right direction, but needs to be the norm. Hopefully, the next A.D. gets it.
4. Ironically, while the Syracuse football schedules like it gets elite talent (and does not), the basketball team is routinely criticized (fairly or unfairly) about its schedule. Indeed, in too many years, the non-conference schedule was unimpressive. In other years, the schedule was stronger than the media gave credit. Maybe the new A.D.–especially emboldened by a presumably humbled Boeheim–to schedule more like Kansas, North Carolina, Michigan State, and Duke. Have your several games against New York opponents, but also schedule home and homes with the bluebloods.
5. Putting a 3-year tail on Boeheim is fairly smart. One suspects that a national title next year might be enough for Boeheim to retire early. But how likely is that? In the meantime, 3 years ensures that most kids who are about to walk through the door will truly get to play for Boeheim, while also giving Mike Hopkins a chance to start shifting the program into what it will be under him. And keep Hopkins from leaving.
As for Boeheim’s legacy, it is what it is. Nearly 1,000 wins (the Confidential does not abide by the NCAA’s absurd “vacating win” concept). A national championship, four final fours, and never more than two games below .500 in the Big East or ACC. Of course, historic NCAA upsets against it, two rounds of significant penalties by the NCAA, questions regarding scheduling, and general cantankerous behavior are always there too. Boeheim is a guy that all Syracuse fans should revere, even those who are about ready for him to step aside. He is also a guy that too many fans of other programs dislike or disrespect unfairly. But he is also a guy that has created his own legacy–positive or negative–in his own way and by his own terms. Having the respect of Coach K and their peers, but perhaps not every Joe Sixpack, is probably good enough for him. So there is no need to lose sleep over it.
What do you think? Gross? Boeheim?
I can’t say that I’m surprised about Gross, and although this does seem very much like he’s falling on the sword for the good of the program, there were a lot of incidents that happened under his watch across all major sports (beyond those reported by the NCAA) that reflected poorly on the athletic department. Hopefully this change will be better in the long run and the next AD will have a better financial footing so they will be able to continue to attract the big donors without neglecting the fans/smaller donors (which apparently is a thing).
Dr. Gross has done a tremendous amount of good for the program’s bottom line, and unlike his predecessor, was fully committed to competing in the College Sports Arms Race – for good or for bad. Unfortunately for him, he has been unpopular since the day of his hire, and seemed to get blamed doing things that Jake didn’t have the balls to do (like fire Coach P. or raise/invest money in the programs) and seemed to be the one that everyone blamed for things like the nickname change to “Orange” (which was done by Crouthamel).
Gross was criticized for his ad blitz in NYC (which other programs in NY/NJ/CT would all try to copy).
Retiring #44 was brilliant, and unfortunately brought out a certain petulance among the Syracuse fans who suddenly felt alienated. I would caution any fans who suddenly think that getting rid of Gross/retiring #44 is going to be a panacea for football…
It will be interesting to see who they will get next…perhaps Tim Pernetti?