The idea of a “coach in waiting,” i.e., that there is a presumptive heir already in place for when the old man has finally had enough, is a charming little thought. But it doesn’t really mean anything, and Mike Hopkins taking the Washington job is the latest example of why.
Hopkins was the coach in waiting at Syracuse. He played at Syracuse and he’s been on Jim Boeheim’s staff there since 1996. Two years ago when Boeheim, now 72, announced he’d be retiring after the 2017-18 season, Syracuse in turn announced Hopkins would be his replacement.
“Very few people are afforded the privilege to coach at their alma mater,” Hopkins said at the time.
Fewer still wind up actually doing it.
Washington on Sunday announced it had agreed with Hopkins on a six-year deal to replace Lorenzo Romar.
“The University of Washington is such a unique place, with a world-class University, an exciting basketball history and unbelievable fan support,” Hopkins said.
The same could easily be said of Syracuse, of course. That Hopkins was saying it about Washington underlines the fundamental silliness of predicting the future.
The “coach in waiting” tag is only ceremonial, and not it’s not even particularly meaningful ceremony. This is sports, after all, where the only thing that ever really matters is Ws and Ls, and the time is always now.