When talk of Jim Boeheim retiring comes up, the evidence used to prove that he’s considering it is completely circumstantial. Boeheim himself, as recently as Saturday, emphatically stated, in no uncertain terms, that he hasn’t thought about retiring.
“There’s nothing to talk about because I haven’t given a thought to it. I’ve never … ever … ever … ever … said anything about retiring,” Boeheim told Bud Poliquin of Syracuse.com on Saturday afternoon, after Syracuse lost to Georgetown at the Verizon Center. “I’ve said the same thing all year, and all last year: I just want to get through the year. I have no plans to retire. Could I retire? Anything can happen, but I have no thoughts right now. If I was thinking about it a little bit, I’d say, ‘Well, I’m thinking about it.’ But I’m not. That golf line was just a joke. The season’s almost over. In a couple of weeks, I’ll go play golf. But not permanently. I don’t like golf that much.”
The reason that Poliquin had to track down Boeheim and ask him about his retirement was the result of something he said in the postgame press conference.
“I’m pretty much ready to go play golf someplace,” he said. “If I was 40 years old, I would be real upset. I’m not 40 years old. That should be obvious.” This came after the 68-year old Boeheim made a long, rambling and wistful statement in remembrance of the Big East and the Syracuse rivalry with Georgetown. As I wrote on Saturday, it was easy to tell that Boeheim was looking back fondly on an era that was coming to a close, but whether the era in question was Syracuse’s time in the Big East or his tenure as the coach of the Orange was unclear.
What we do know is that Boeheim isn’t getting any younger. Syracuse is leaving the conference that he helped build and breaking up a rivalry that he’s been a central figure in for 33 years. Retiring and sending Orange basketball into their new era with a new coach, leaving as the only man to have the title of ‘Syracuse head coach’ in Big East history, would put a nice little bow on his career.
Boeheim’s made it clear the move to the ACC doesn’t necessarily excite him, making it perfectly clear he doesn’t think Greensboro, NC, compares to New York City and that he doesn’t look forward to having to eat at a Denny’s on trips to Clemson. Throw in the fact that his hand-picked successor is interviewing for coaching gigs on the other side of the country, and it just fits.
So no, Boeheim hasn’t made any comments about retiring. The ones that can be interpreted as a veiled hint at his future can also be read as another example of a grumpy old curmudgeon saying the things grumpy old curmudgeons say.
But don’t expect the speculation to go away, not when Boeheim’s retirement this offseason would be a poetic way to end his story.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.