Two things are certain to happen if a program were to hire Rick Pitino: their defense will be incredible and the NCAA will be watching them like a hawk. A team would have to be crazy to take a shot like this, but we may have finally found a suitor for Ol’ Rick… the UCLA Bruins.
UCLA fired Head Coach Steve Alford in December and replaced him with Murry Bartow, but only on an interim basis. Luckily, Pitino’s contract with Greek side Panathinaikos is up in May. Sources tell USA Today Sports that UCLA may be Pitino’s next job. To make things even spicier, one of UCLA Athletics top boosters WANTS him.
John Branca, UCLA Law graduate and executor of Michael Jackson’s estate, has vouched for Pitino’s hire. He was part of the search committee instrumental in the hiring of Chip Kelly for UCLA Football. If you can convince a school to hire anyone from the incompetence that is the Kelly family, you can convince anyone to do anything. Sadly, UCLA Regents have said that they would not approve Pitino if he were to be hired.
This would be a great move for Slick Rick. The man just loves to coach. He took a job half a world away even though we was only going to be there for 15 seconds. Just so he could be around the game he loved. From a UCLA administration standpoint, this would be an absolute nightmare. UCLA Basketball wise, however, awesome decision. It would make them a powerhouse again with the defense and player development Pitino brings. He will be on a tight leash for sure, but that doesn’t change the fact he is one of the best college coaches alive.
Matt Jones of Kentucky Sports Radio actually made a very good point about this situation. He said this would be a good move since he would not be the biggest sports figure in LA. Not by a long shot. Growing up in Louisville while he was the coach of UofL, I can say that he and Tom Jurich had control of all things Louisville sports. He wanted the Yum! Center. He got it. He didn’t want an NBA team. We didn’t get one. He wanted Brian Bowen… well, he almost got him. Being the Head Coach of UCLA would make him somewhere around the 226th most important sports figure in LA. No control over anything, except his own starting lineup.
The best part about this move would be that Pitino would make UCLA good. With UCLA being good, they will attract good recruits (legally, of course). Good recruits like LaMelo Ball. I am not sure the stance that the Ball family has on UCLA anymore, but Lavar Ball and Rick Pitino doing anything together would entice me to pay an excessive amount of money to watch.