We Need a Priest: Is Pitino's career at Louisville on life support?


Oh Sh*t, hide the fettucini!

Loyal readers, I have a confession, and one that might hurt my cred with Kentucky fans everywhere. I have to get it off my chest and after this, my fanbase (I think that’s the right word? Oh..hatemail) might never respect me again. Here it goes…I don’t hate Louisville as much as many UK fans. I understand the hatred, I feel it every time I see a red and black flat-billed hat or that ridiculous hand “L” sign (love it when it’s the wrong hand), but I just don’t have that intense need to see them fail at any and every endeavor (they can have the Most Jawline Beards award). Anybody that knows me is well informed that my hatred for the University of Tennessee far supersedes my hatred for the Birds beside the Dirty River.

It’s like a little brother, or a smelly cousin, thing; they try to play basketball against the big kid and occasionally win, but despite all their bragging and celebrating when the win the record clearly belongs to you. It’s hard to hate a kid like that, and that’s what Louisville is for me. So I feel like I can now say what I started in this admission and say it with a somewhat bi-partisan opinion. Rick Pitino’s coaching career may not be dead, but is sure as hell on life support and it ain’t looking too good.

I don’t hate Rick Pitino either, and I guess that puts me even farther in the minority when it comes to Kentucky fans, but I understand why he did what he did. After his brilliant run coaching the University of Kentucky back to national prominence, he made a business decision and followed the money to the NBA. It’s understandable, just ask five former Kentucky basketball players leaving this summer, most are still around for another week or two. I wish more success for each of these players than Pitino had, but it did teach him that college coaching was a much better job and he left the NBA after the 2001 season. If you’ll check your history, you’ll notice something about the coaching job market that year: it was pretty wide open. High level coaching jobs were available: Villanova, Wake Forest, Michigan, and UMass all had coaching changes in 2001. But remembering his hero status in Kentucky, he chose the second best program in the state and in turn, earned the ire of every fan in the state.

Those of you who disagree with me will point to his first few years at the “Ville”, where he went 97-35 (74% winning percentage) and led the Cards to a Final Four in 2005. But he was in the Conference USA, come on. Rice? East Carolina? Give me a break. Louisville moved to the Big East (more like Big Least) and finally started playing some real teams. Pitino-ball has still been moderately successful, but three times in five years Pitino has lost 10 games or more on the season. Save for the 2009 season when he admittedly had talented players (who ended up leaving/transferring/getting arrested) he has not been producing like he used to. His inability to develop players is evident, with only two All Americans recruited and coached solely by Pitino (Francisco Garcia 2005, Terrence Williams 2009), and his inability to control his players only shows hat he is losing control. I’m not going to get into the sex scandal that happened either, it’s been pounded into the ground (just like all of his first date’s at Porcini’s! HA!), but his morality is been redoubtable and his fan base is shrinking (don’t black-ball me Pat Forde).

I will give Slick Rick one thing though, the man can coach in the big game and that’s probably what’s keeping him in the job. The two HUGE wins against Syracuse last year saved their season and prevented a burning at the cross for the white suited womanizer. Losses to powerhouses Charlotte and West Carolina were thoroughly demoralizing and only made worse by losing to every ranked team they played save for the wins against the Fightin’ Boeheims. Recruiting loses…well, those are probably still a little too sore to touch right now, but lets say the Indianapolis exodus really hurt. Really.

Good luck Rick, I’ll get that nun back in here and get that gallon of alfredo sauce you asked for.

Keep following www.http://wildcatbluenation.com for the best in Kentucky basketball and football news, rumors, and opinions. By Kentucky fans for Kentucky fans