Jim Boeheim's Cavalier Attitude Should Doom Him

OPINION

 @http://twitter.com/jtalty on November 30 2011 10:02 AM
Jim Boeheim
Jim Boeheim blew another opportunity to be contrite on Tuesday. REUTERS

It's abundantly clear that Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim still doesn't fully comprehend the magnitude of the Bernie Fine scandal.

In Boeheim's first press conference since the release of tape recordings of Fine's wife, Laurie, implicating her husband in the allegations, Boeheim was smug, condescending, and quick to smirk -- all things he's been all his life, but needed to abandon in this sensitive case of alleged child molestation.

The long-time Syracuse case has always been known for his outspokenness and dry sense of humor, but if ever there was an instance in which he needed to keep to the script and hold back the quips, it was Tuesday night.

But Boeheim just couldn't help himself.

He couldn't stop himself from making a joke about the large amount of reporters covering an otherwise meaningless Syracuse-Eastern Michigan game.

This is the first time I've been in the press room where there's more people here than at the game, Boeheim joked. Is there something special going on tonight?

It is comments like those that reinforce the idea that Boeheim thinks he is untouchable and doesn't really care about the potential victims.

He has previously issued a half-hearted apology to Bobby Davis and Mike Lang, but only after he publicly trashed the two as liars and looking for a financial payout after similar accusations in Penn State drew worldwide attention.

Boeheim was extremely defensive of Fine, who has since been fired, after the investigation first went public, but couldn't stop there either. Nothing has been proven yet -- no charges have even been filed -- but his bombastic comments bashing the victims have the potential to blow up in his face in a big way.

It is a bunch of a thousand lies that he has told, Boeheim said defiantly. You don't think it is a little funny that his cousin (relative) is coming forward? He supplied four names to the university that would corroborate his story. None of them did ... there is only one side to this story. He is lying.

Tuesday night was his big opportunity to show how sad he is that one of his long-time lieutenants might have molested a young man for more than 10 years, but no apology was uttered.

Instead it was more of Boeheim on the defensive about his initial defense of Fine.

I've been with him for 36 years, known him for 48 years, went to school with him, he said. I think you owe a debt of allegiance and gratitude for what he did for the program. That's what my reaction was. So be it.  

So be it, indeed.

But Boeheim needs to realize that such a cavalier attitude is only going to come back to bite him in the long run. He currently has the support of the school's chancellor, but his actions on Tuesday night just backed him even farther into a virtually inescapable corner.

If any of the charges against Fine are proven to be true -- and that tape recording indicates it's a fair possibility -- that will likely signal the end of Boeheim's time at Syracuse.

It didn't have to be that way -- Boeheim is far less culpable than former Penn State coach Joe Paterno -- but that's the situation he has created for himself.

At each opportunity to possibly rectify the situation, he has proven to be selfish and incapable of understanding that his good friend might have preyed on young boys.

That's a hard realization for any person to swallow, but Boeheim has acted like a petulant toddler refusing to open his mouth.

The most powerful man in Syracuse even tried to claim on Tuesday that he has no power in making any decision besides who starts on the basketball court. Boeheim said that he has no say in who is hired or fired, but even his star point guard saw some holes in that theory.

Why wouldn't he [have a say in major decisions at Syracuse]? Jardine told Yahoo Sports. He's been here, what, 36 years?

The fifth winningest coach in college basketball history could see his career end in shame in the near future -- just like Paterno's downfall in Happy Valley.

It didn't have to be this way, but Boeheim has now placed his 36 years of accomplishments, including a national championship in 2003, all in the hopes of Bernie Fine being found innocent.

All because he couldn't hold back his quips for one night.

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