SAN JOSE -- Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim sat at the microphone and listened as questions from the media came in rapid-fire fashion.
What did he think of the CBSSports.com report that the NCAA was investigating major, widespread rules violations within his program? What about the timing of the report, on the eve of Syracuse's NCAA tournament opener? Would the news be a distraction to his team?
When the moderator tried to cut off the questions, Boeheim intervened.
"That's fine," he said nonchalantly. "You can ask a hundred of them."
Boeheim is accustomed to the controversy.
The man standing between Cal and a berth in the Sweet 16 is a Hall of Fame coach whose career includes enough scandals to fill two résumés.
He has 917 wins (second all-time to Mike Krzyzewski), three Final Four appearances, a national championship and some of the most infamous losses in March Madness history.
He has helped raise millions of dollars for charity and has legions of friends, including Cal coach Mike Montgomery. But he is also viewed as a grump and a bully.
"He's raw," longtime assistant and former Syracuse player Mike Hopkins said. "He says it how it is.
"All the stuff (with the NCAA), it's like nothing happens. He's like the kid in the bubble and people are throwing things at him and it all bounces off. I've never seen a guy more mentally tough."
Boeheim, 68, became the coach at his alma mater in 1976 and won the inaugural Big East championship four seasons later.
He lost an NCAA title game to Indiana on Keith Smart's winning jumper (1987), became the first coach to lose to a No. 15 seed (Richmond, 1991) and was banned from the NCAA tournament for recruiting violations (1993).
He has beaten prostate cancer, won a national championship (2003) and been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (2005).
"He'll go down as one of the premier coaches in the game," said Nike executive and former coach George Raveling, who has known Boeheim for years. "He's from a different era. He spans five decades of basketball. For coaches, change is difficult. But each decade, he's made major adjustments in how he leads and how he coaches."
The current NCAA investigation, which has been unfolding over the course of years, reportedly involves possible drug-related violations, academic malfeasance and an alleged sexual assault case. (It is not, however, related to sexual assault allegations made against former assistant Bernie Fine in 2011. Federal authorities have dropped their investigation into one of the sexual abuse claims that cost Fine his job.)
How much longer will Boeheim coach? After a particularly poor game against Georgetown this month, he quipped about being "ready to go play golf."
The comment, combined with Boeheim's sorrow over the breakup of the Big East -- Syracuse is moving to the ACC -- prompted speculation that retirement might be imminent.
"People always ask me, 'Did you ever think about retirement?' Yeah. I've been thinking about it for 15 years," he said Friday. "I think everybody, once they get to 60-something, they're thinking about retirement, too. It doesn't mean you're necessarily going to ...
"But I haven't ever thought that this is going to be it, or that's going to be it, ever."
Through it all, Boeheim keeps racking up the victories. The team that faces Cal on Saturday has 27 wins and beat Louisville, the tournament's No. 1 overall seed, on the Cardinals' home floor.
"In his deepest core, it's about the competition for him -- he lives for coaching and winning," Hopkins said as a slight smile formed. "People always joke that if he's playing you in pool, be careful if you're winning, because he'll hit you in back with the stick."
Jon Wilner: Who will emerge from Saturday's games into the Sweet 16? wWw.mercurynews.com/sports
Cal's Sweet 16 quest: A look at how Cal has fared through the years in NCAA tournament games after winning its opener. wWw.mercurynews.com/sports
Cal women: Coach Lindsay Gottlieb hopes the Bears' Pac-12 loss provided lessons heading into the NCAA tournament. wWw.mercurynews.com/sports
Hoyas stunned: No. 15 seed Florida Gulf Coast, left, tops No. 2-seeded Georgetown. Page 5
La Salle holds on: No. 13 seed Explorers withstand a rally by No. 4 seed Kansas State. Page 5
Pac-12 colors: Cal, Oregon fans asked to wear gold, yellow for Saturday games at HP Pavilion. Page 5