What up world! It’s your boy Earl and I’m back with another edition of The Blog About Nothing. March is in full swing as the NCAA Tournament kicked off this week. Your boy filled out one bracket, and one bracket only, and I have no expectations on winning the 7Poundbag Yahoo group. None. I’ve watched a lot of college basketball but come tournament time, you can throw whatever knowledge you think you have out the window.
Upsets will happen and brackets will get busted. So thank you UAB, Georgia State, and the kid from SMU who should have known better to touch a ball on the way down to the hoop for kind of denting mine. I’m alright with that. So with March Madness under way, the Women’s NCAA Tournament kicking off too (shout out to St. Francis College of Brooklyn New York for making it!) and preseason baseball winding up it’s a busy time on the sports calendar. So you think I’ll talk about that stuff this week, right? Well, no. No I won’t.
This week I want to talk about the Fox hit show Empire. Empire came to it’s dramatic conclusion this past week, and despite me saying a few blogs ago that I didn’t like the show and was close to giving up on it, I’m glad I stuck with it. I’m also glad I was one of the 17 million viewers who saw the season finale. Empire is a soap opera, it’s a drama, it’s unintentionally funny at times, but it’s a tour de force that re-inforced the place of minority driven shows on television. Don’t get me wrong, it would be nice to see a minority cast do a serious show, instead of ratchet ghetto ass TV, but I’m the kind of guy that will take my wins where I get them.
For those who don’t know Empire stars actor Terrence Howard as Lucious Lyon. Lucious is a musician who surged to fame and created his own record label, Empire. In order to get the funds to start Empire he was a drug dealer, as was his wife Cookie Lyon played by Taraji P. Henson. Well, when you lead a life of crime it will eventually catch up to you and Cookie gets sent to jail. The show picks up 17 years later with Cookie getting out of prison and trying to put her life back together. She discovers her estranged husband is a big star and her three sons are his proteges.
There is business savvy oldest son Andre, musically talented singer and middle son Jamal, and the youngest son is the rapper Hakeem. All three boys have their flaws however. Andre is bi polar and manic, Jamal is gay, and Hakeem is immature to say the least. However, the show begins with Cookie trying to reconnect with her family and Lucious announcing that he was diagnosed with ALS. He has a limited amount of time to live and one of his sons needs to be ready to take over Empire from him.
From the onset Lucious preferres to hand over the reigns to Hakeem. Jamal appears to be the better choice, but Lucious is strongly homophobic and pushes Jamal at every chance he gets. Jamal in turn pushes back, and that push-pull relationship is a big part of the season. Andre might be the financial whiz but due to him lacking musical talent it’s made clear to him at the onset that he will never be given control of the business. Hakeem, follows, but he wants to be his own man, mistakes and all. Safe to say through the power of ratchet breakneck speed, and everything included the kitchen sink thrown at the viewer, there is upheaval twists and turns every week and the finale concludes with Lucious in prison, and not dying of ALS due to a misdiagnosis, but not before handing over the reigns of the Empire to Jamal because although Jamal is gay, he has that same will to win that his father Lucious has.
Fox stumbled upon a mega hit with Empire and despite the show being only 12 episodes and a midseason replacement it became a bit of a cultural touchstone warts and all. It’s a show fans flocked to, critics didn’t know what to do with, and Fox can’t wait to bring back on the air in the fall. That’s a victory. However, that initial act in Empire, which was repeated in the finale, of picking a successor that makes me think of something that is due to happen in the sports world in a few years.
Syracuse University was hit recently with some NCAA violations. These violations included a loss of 12 scholarships (to be spread out over a period of years), and men’s head coach Jim Boeheim was suspended 9 ACC games and saw 108 wins vacated from his record. Boeheim went from being #2 all time in wins down to #6 with the wins that were taken from him. In the world of college sports (at most schools) it’s football that moves the needle, but at Syracuse it’s basketball and these violations have dented some of the institutions prestige.
With the announcement of the violations, coach Boeheim recently came out and stated that he will retire in three seasons. While Boeheim will appeal what he calls an “undully harsh” decision his announcement of pending retirement does pave the way for a bit of a sucession crisis in a few seasons. I wonder if Boeheim is now looking at his assistants and thinking: who will take over the empire he’s been building since 1976.
Boeheim has been in trouble before. Syracuse was suspended from the 1993 NCAA Tournament due to recruitment violations, and former assistant coach Bernie Fine was dismissed from the program a few years ago due to allegations of child molestation, but somehow Boeheim has not only survived, he has thrived in Upstate New York. The Orange won a national championship with Carmelo Anthony back in 2003, and Boeheim regularly has Syracuse in the NCAA Tournament. They didn’t make it this season due to the violations, but now with the loss of scholarships and player transfers you have to wonder what state will this program be in over the next three to five seasons.
Who wants to inherit this mess? While I have never been crazy about the coach in waiting term, Syracuse needs one. It has been assumed Boeheim assistant Mike Hopkins will be the man to take the job once Boeheim actually does retire, but there has been little sign of that as of late. However being a suggestion man as I am, I have one for Syracuse. Boeheim needs to gather his assistants in a room and go full out King Lear with it. Go full out Empire style with it: pit his assistants against each other and let the most ruthless one win!
Just playing. In my opinion Syracuse should go with Gerry McNamara to replace Boeheim. Why? McNamara is probably one of the best players to come through Syracuse in recent memory. He was the Robin to Carmelo’s Batman the year they won the National Title, and in the years following McNamara led that school on his back countless times. His senior year, the 2005-2006 season, saw McNamara lead an unhearlded Syracuse team to the Big East title. No one gave Syracuse a shot that year and he and the Orange over four magic filled nights at Madison Square Garden led that team to a title on one leg. One leg! It was something to watch.
McNamara is still beloved on campus and he’s still young. He’s been on staff since 2009, and he’s only 31 years old. By the time Boeheim retires he’ll be in his mid 30s. He’d be the right guy to carry on the Boeheim years but also move the school into a new generation. He’ll provide the spark of young energy that the program leads. In short McNamara could be for Syracuse what Kevin Ollie was for the University of Connecticut. A young gun to replace a faded predecessor to bring his school into the new era.
So, yeah a TV show led me to write this blog. I find inspiration where I get it. Thanks for reading. Thanks for supporting www.7poundbag.com. Peace.
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