By Kevin Sweeney
Another day, another stunning coaching change.
Jon Rothstein of FanRag Sports is reporting that Syracuse head coach-designate Mike Hopkins will be hired as head coach at Washington. Hopkins, who had already been announced to be the next Syracuse head coach after Jim Boeheim retires after the 2017-18 season, will take his first-ever coaching job somewhere other than Syracuse.
The move is certainly a stunning one, as Hopkins played for the Orange and has been an assistant on Boeheim’s staff since 1996. He coached the Orange for 9 games in the 2015-16 season when Boeheim was suspended as a result of the NCAA investigation that led to a postseason ban in the 2014-15 season. However, Hopkins grew up in Santa Ana, California and was considered a finalist for the Oregon State head coaching job in 2014, so perhaps he has his sights set on returning to the west coast.
Still, one must wonder whether there’s something we don’t know going on in the Syracuse athletic department. It seems odd that Hopkins would leave just one year before landing a superior job. One possibility is that Hopkins didn’t want the pressure of following up one of the top coaches in the history of college basketball, and preferred to pave his own path.
Hopkins will replace Lorenzo Romar, who was fired earlier this week after going 298-195 in 15 seasons in Seattle. This season’s 9-win campaign with potential #1 pick in the NBA Draft Markelle Fultz sealed Romar’s fate. Even with current signee Michael Porter Jr. not likely to attend UW, Hopkins will still have a stacked recruiting class that includes 3 four-star prospects committed. If he can hold on to those players, he should have a chance to win right away.
The move also will bring plenty of attention to what will occur at Syracuse, with Boeheim planning to depart after next season. Boeheim commented earlier this year that he may consider retiring after this season. It’s unclear what effect this will have on his retirement plans. The job will likely be one of the most coveted in the country whenever it eventually opens