In the summer of 2012, CBS Sports’ basketball correspondents spent a month interviewing 100 college basketball coaches. Picking their brains about the biggest issues facing their sport at that time. Coaches were promised anonymity in exchange for their true, honest, unadulterated answers. One question per weekday for one month.
This survey had some very innocent questions like “who is the most underrated coach?”, “what rule would you like to be see changed?” But then the CBS Basketball guys ramped up the questions and started getting some real newsworthy results. Coaches were asked, “Which coach is best at bending the rules but not breaking them?”
It was the summer right after the 2012 national championship, and a guy with a sketchy past had just won the title with a stellar recruiting class. So you could imagine who topped the list.
John Calipari: 13 percent
Billy Donovan: 11 percent
Sean Miller: 8 percent
Tom Crean: 8 percent
Mike Krzyzewski: 6 percent
Roy Williams: 6 percent
Tom Izzo: 5 percent
Josh Pastner: 5 percent
People think John Calipari was/is cheating? Color me shocked.
Now, there are two things that surprise me the most about the results from the last question. First, the 6 coaches who said Roy Williams was the best at bending the rules and not breaking them were spot on. Great call. For those of you who don’t know, Roy Williams was at the center of a NCAA academic scandal a couple of years back. Athletes took fake classes with minimal work and easy A’s to stay eligible. The only reason UNC got off scot-free was because a couple frat boys found out about it and took them too. Really bent that rule as far as absolutely possible.
The second most surprising thing is that Rick Pitino did not make the top 8. Maybe because the question asked who bends the rules without breaking them and Pitino was definitely just breaking them. However, there was another question that asked who the biggest cheater in college basketball was. Calipari ranked number one in that poll too while Pitino was nowhere to be found.
Pitino must have been keeping thing pretty tight under wraps, or maybe he really did not know anything after all. Ignorance is unlikely especially since he told boosters shortly before the 2015 scandal broke that he knew everything his players did. Going as far as to say “If one of my players has a beer in Louisville, I know about it.”
Makes you wonder about how good of a program Louisville would be today if Katina Powell had not blown the whole story open.
According to Louisville’s WAVE 3 News, The University of Louisville has received a notice of inquiry from the NCAA. The notice is in relation to the FBI’s bribery and corruption investigation affecting college basketball since September of 2017.
A UofL spokesperson confirmed receiving a verbal notice on March 8.
Now, the notice does not mean that Louisville is in any kind trouble. It is simply the first step the NCAA must take before announcing that Louisville is under investigation. If that investigation were to turn up evidence that Louisville has committed rule violations, they then will receive a notice of allegation which normally carries penalties.
While the FBI investigation has affected multiple programs, Louisville has no doubt been hit the hardest. When the case was initially released 17 months ago, it led to the dismissal of Head Coach Rick Pitino and Athletic Director Tom Jurich. Two other assistant coaches, Kenny Johnson and Jordan Fair, were also fired for there alleged roles in the payment of recruits.
Of course, Louisville is still on probation for the Katina Powell sex/dorm rom stripper party scandal of 2012. Surely, if the investigation finds evidence of further rules violations while UofL is already on probation, it would carry stiff penalties.
One thing I loved about the Kentucky vs. Louisville rivalry from the years of 2009-2017 was that, in a Pitino vs. Calipari matchup, you never knew whether or not the mafia was going to get involved.
If you are a true Soft 7 and have been following us for a while, you know that I love to sink my teeth in any story about the mob getting involved in sports. Already this year, the Armenian mob got caught fixing tennis matches in Spain and a mob boss in France who lamely calls himself “maestro” was arrested for his role in fixing tennis matches. Now, my ridiculous imagination has me hoping that the mafia will involve themselves in this year’s NCAA tournament. And I know the perfect game.
There are plenty of rivalries that could potentially meet up, but there is one game with some serious bad blood and it is in the first round. 7-Seed Louisville taking on 10-Seed Minnesota.
Rick Pitino was battered and humiliated when he was ousted as Head Coach of Louisville. He vowed to never return to that city again (he has since broken that vow, but please ignore that). Pitino brought Louisville Basketball back to their former glory from the 80’s and they threw him out like Jazz from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. All because of a dirty assistant coach named Andre McGee and a pimp named Katina Powell (notice that I didn’t say lady pimp, because it is 2019 and women can do anything).
With Rick Pitino’s own son, Richard Pitino, coaching Minnesota, this could be a potential trap game for the Cardinals. Daddy Rick is going to be in Lil’ Richard’s ear all week telling him exactly how these Louisville guys play.
I am not saying that the mafia will 100% be involved. I am not even saying there is a 1% chance. But the chance is better than every other game. If cheesy black-and-white mobster movies have taught me anything, it is that mobster love revenge and doing things for the hell of it. Louisville vs. Minnesota is the only game that fits the criteria.
Just a year and half after Rick Pitino was ousted as head coach of Louisville, he is already back on top. In what seemed like 15 seconds, Pitino went from top 5 college coach to laughing stock of the basketball world back to being one of the best coaches. Congratulations to Ole’ Boy Rick on his first championship since 1996.
In Sunday’s championship game, Pitino’s Panathinaikos team beat PAOK 79-73 in the Greek Cup Championship. On top of what I am sure was impeccable defense, the team was led by former Florida star Nick Calathes who was awarded MVP. Other names you may have heard of are Sean Kilpatrick, Keith Langford, James Gist and Konstantinos Mitoglou who all played for NCAA teams along with Thanasis Antetokounmpo (Giannis’ brother) and Georgios Papagiannis who was a lottery pick in the 2016 NBA draft.
Do you all think Rick will get a tattoo of this championship too?
I am not going to go into “details” of the game, because I did not “watch it”, however, I do have some takeaways. Pitino’s still got it and I am 100% certain that he never lost it. Some people thought that when he lost his coaching job at Louisville, he would never coach again. That thought never crossed my mind. Can’t stop the greats from doing what they love. I think it is only a matter of time before he is back coaching another D-1 NCAA program. In fact, UCLA has already shown some interest.
If I could have it my way, I would make sure Pitino found his way back to Louisville. I would love that. Not only because Kentucky normally won, but also in a Calipari/Pitino matchup, you had the thrill of genuinely not knowing whether or not the mafia was going to get involved.
Follow us @soft7sports on twitter and instagram and stay tuned for more Pitino news. Also, props to me for not making any stripper jokes.
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.