Saturday’s game vs. Virginia Tech will be a family reunion for one Kentucky Basketball player. →
The Ringer: Will Pitino be remembered at Louisville for the title or leaving the program in wreckage?
By Jack Pilgrim on ©September 27th, 2017 @ 11:05pm
What a whirlwind 48 hours. What was once seen as a week to drown in our sorrows following the Florida loss developed into the biggest scandal in the history of college sports, with Rick Pitino as the face of it.
Pitino and Louisville AD Tom Jurich were both “effectively fired” this morning, but what happens next?
The Ringer’s Mark Titus wrote a column to answer the question of the hour:
“Will he be remembered more for lifting the program to a national title or for leaving it in a heap of wreckage after a glaringly scandal-ridden tenure?”
What will Pitino’s legacy be after the dust settles?
It remains to be seen what Pitino’s enduring legacy will be. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and paint him as the personification of what’s wrong with college sports, which isn’t to say that I want to make any excuses for the man. Pitino is a morally bankrupt coward who deserves every ounce of his comeuppance and who shouldn’t be allowed near a college basketball bench for the rest of his life. His latest scandal isn’t the most appalling of his tenure, but it’s a major scandal nonetheless—and likely to be major in the NCAA’s eyes. At some point even the most deluded university administrators realize that winning can only make up for so much.
According to Titus, today is a day we celebrate John Calipari for “outrunning his reputation as a cheater.”
Pitino likely won’t be the only major college basketball coach to get the boot in the aftermath of the FBI’s probe, and it’s possible that if the investigation touches enough universities, it could eventually implicate other top-tier coaches. But that’s not why Cal is worth mentioning here. On a day when Pitino’s coaching career probably ended for good, it’s striking to reflect on how much has changed over the last eight and a half years. There are lots of rumors that attempt to link Calipari to scandal, but he’s dodged them and carved out a legacy as the coach who revolutionized the one-and-done game and who produces draft picks like clockwork. Cal rubs people the wrong way, but he’s outrun his reputation as a cheater (for the most part) and is seen as one of the sport’s most influential coaches.
To conclude, Titus says Pitino’s sleaziness has overtaken his coaching success in the long run.
It’s often said that great coaches in college sports rarely go out on their own terms. Pitino, who went a combined 770-271 over his NCAA tenure, is the latest example. As recently as a few years ago, he was seen as Hall of Fame coach who also happened to be sleazy. Now, he’s seen as a Hall of Fame sleazeball who also happened to be a winning coach.
Above all else, the program he built up starting in 2001 may never recover from the events that occurred under his watch.
His reputation is forever tarnished, and the program he built may never recover from the transgressions that happened under his watch.
You can read the rest of the article here.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©September 27th, 2017 @ 11:00pm
How will I remember Rick Pitino? That’s a question I’ve been asking myself all afternoon.
I know what you’re thinking. Tyler, you work for KSR. Shut up, you’re ecstatic. You all make a living off making fun of Rick. You’re dancing on his grave. And yes, while it’s true that in many ways, my livelihood is tied to Pitino and Louisville’s MANY scandals, shortcomings, and general mockability, I thought this would feel better. I thought I would be happier. But I’m not. And sadly, I think I know why.
Pitino’s demise means I have to process how I truly feel about the man, and, underneath all the jokes, that is a complicated matter. Growing up, he was a god. He brought Kentucky back from the dead and became so beloved that people snuck into his yard and collected grass clippings to frame and hang on their wall. The reason the 1992 loss to Duke hurt so much is how far we had come; Christian Laettner’s shot was like a heart stomp to show us we were still alive. The 90s were absolute glory years, and I have all the cheesy t-shirts — always purchased at a stand on the side of Man O’War — to prove it. For a preteen tomboy like myself, life didn’t get better than Kentucky’s run in 96-97-98. Camelot was a very real thing, and while it was heartbreaking when Pitino left for Boston, you were able to deal with it because he was going to the NBA. It was the next level, after all. The Celtics, nonetheless.
Fast forward a few years to Pitino’s return in 2001. For Kentucky fans, it was one of those, “you’ll never forget where you were” days. Coincidentally, I was in Louisville at a high school journalism conference at the Galt House. To be quite honest, the sting from hearing that news for the first time has never really gone away. Pitino choosing to return to college basketball as the head coach of our archrival didn’t feel like a coincidence; it felt like the worst kind of betrayal. Outsiders can go on all they want about how he had the right to take whichever job he liked (duh), and maybe he just loved the state of Kentucky so much he wanted to come back in some way (ha!), but that single act cemented how most of the fanbase would feel about him for life. A traitor. Benadict-ino. All of the malice Kentucky fans have had for Pitino in the past 16 years goes back to that very moment.
For me, those feelings festered over the years until John Calipari came and, like Pitino, brought Kentucky back to life. Like Pitino, he had that unique kind of swagger required for the job; however, Cal was even better at it. While Rick held the fanbase at arms length so they wouldn’t mess up his clothes, Cal went in for a full bear hug, feeding and nurturing a wounded Big Blue Nation back to terrifying health. Not only was Cal winning big, he was beating the snot of out Pitino while he was doing it, which was music to all of our ears.
Even better, Pitino himself began to crumble. The Karen Sypher scandal in 2009 seemed almost too ridiculous to believe — which, in retrospect, has become a familiar refrain with Pitino. He had sex with a woman in a restaurant? On a table? He did it down his leg? In only 15 seconds?! The hurt that had morphed into resentment once again morphed into mockery and it snowballed with each win, scandal, and stupid slogan that came out of Louisville. As the Calipari/Pitino rivalry grew — and boy, did it — Pitino became a caricature to Kentucky fans. Can’t beat Cal! Looks like a corpse! Did it on a table with Karen Sypher!
Pitino leading the Cards to a (now defunct) National Championship the same year Cal and the Cats went to the NIT was a minor blip on the radar; the chance for Cal’s doubters to stand up and finally say the things they’ve been wanting to since he came on board. Thankfully, the world righted itself the next March when Kentucky beat Louisville in the Sweet 16, as sweet a victory as these eyes have seen.
A year later, the sex scandal broke and Pitino’s House of Cards began to tumble down around him. The jokes got easier. The traffic got crazier. Pitino became a villain from a bad 90s movie, furtively denying any wrongdoing as the room around him went up in flames. Only the hardcore Louisville fans bothered to defend him anymore because, really, how do you defend hookers in the dorm? You just can’t.
And now, we’re here. Pitino is the first domino to fall in the FBI’s probe into bribery in college basketball, and when you think about it, it’s laughably pathetic. Shoe companies interfering in college basketball has been going on for decades, and of course Pitino is the first to take the fall. He’s the most scandalous scoundrel who ever scoudreled. And of course he’s denying it all. He’s gotta get a check, after all.
Pitino leaving. pic.twitter.com/1HE3gOZQnx
— Marcus Green (@MarcusGreenWDRB) September 27, 2017
So, why don’t I feel better? The day we’ve been waiting for is finally here. It’s Christmas morning 16 years in the making, but instead of feeling glee, I just feel kind of empty. Honestly, the video of Pitino walking out of the President’s office was what threw me into this funk. The man I’ve watched roam the sidelines — both home and away — was reduced to one last smirk, one final exit stage right, his shoulders slumped.
Pitino is a great coach; there’s no denying that. But he is also a proven liar and a master manipulator. Objectively, he is reaping what he is sowing. But for Kentucky fans, he’s also the ex, specifically the one that keeps messing up but you find yourself still checking on. You tell yourself it’s to feel better about how far you’ve come, but really, you look back because there was something there once, and it will always kind of hurt.
By Alex Holder on ©September 27th, 2017 @ 9:00pm
If you’ve seen the movie Blue Chips you know exactly why I’m writing this article.
For those of you who haven’t seen this movie, in 1994 Paramount Pictures came out with a basketball movie about a fictional college on the west coast named the Western University Dolphins. Head coach of the Dolphins, Pete Bell (aka Nick Nolte), is at first seen as a clean coach who runs a clean program and is very successful in the process. The problem is all of the other programs eventually catch up to coach Bell which then puts him on the hot seat. This means Pete has to start a new way of recruiting and getting those five star athletes to want to come to Western University which was once a powerhouse program.
(Watch video above for official trailer of the movie)
While watching the movie in celebration, pay the most attention starting here:
So why not go to Gazelle Sports Equipment for advice on recruiting? This is exactly what coach Bell and the rest of his coaching staff at Western University do. The Dolphin’s newest targets are now five star recruits including point guard Butch McKae (Penny Hardaway), forward Ricky Roe (Matt Nover), and Neon Boudeaoux (Shaquille O’Neal).
When going to visit Mckae in Chicago, Illinois, Butch’s mom pretty much demands that the only way her son will attend Western University is if she is guaranteed a new job and new house for her family. Next up on the list was a fictional hick from French Lick, the forward Ricky Roe. During the recruitment of Ricky, Roe’s dad also explains that the only way his son is going to come all the way out to Southern California is if he himself gets a brand-new tractor out of it. And then last but not least is the project from New Orleans, Neon Boudeaoux. The problem is he scored a 520 on his SAT. I’ll let you do the math there.
What’s next? Oh yeah, the school booster “Happy” (J.T. Walsh), who has all of the money and connections with “friends of the program” makes all of what I just said happen. The new job and house comes for Butch McKaes mom. A brand new John Deere tractor and a bag of 30,000 dollars in casharrives in the gravel drive way at the Roe residents. And Boudeaoux gets a brand-new Lexus that he didn’t even ask for and passes his SAT with a score of 960 after Pete Bell’s ex-wife tutors him.
Oh yeah and guess who gets caught for all of these improper benefits? Pete Bell and the Western University Dolphins. Only problem is coach Bell takes complete ownership of his wrong doings unlike Mr. Slick Rick himself.
My whole point in why you should watch this movie and make a toast to it in honor of Jurich and Pitino is because if you want to see cheating in a college basketball setting and what it was almost exactly like to be around the UofL basketball program since 2010, then you won’t be disappointed, I can promise you that. There weren’t any strippers in the dorm room at Western University or 100,000 pay checks given out to freshmen, but there were tractors, cars, $30,000 pay checks, and houses given out.
Also I forgot to state that Pitino is in the movie… coincidence? (watch video above to see Pitino’s only scene in the movie) Like Butch Mckae’s mom said, “A foul is not a foul unless the referee blows the whistle,” must’ve been Ricky P’s motto.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©September 27th, 2017 @ 8:30pm
If the previous scandals didn’t ruin you as a Louisville fan, this was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Earlier today, the University of Louisville “effectively fired” both Rick Pitino and Tom Jurich, ending arguably the most historic era in school history.
Following an affair, an on-campus prostitution/stripper scandal, and a bribery investigation involving the FBI, there was no other option. A death penalty is entirely possible, with years of tournament bans, vacated wins, and massive scholarship reductions almost guaranteed. Cleaning house was the only way to truly give the program a fresh start following this mess.
Don’t tell anyone I told you this, but I actually feel sorry for UofL fans.
Like most UofL and UK fans, I live for this rivalry. When the Katina Powell news broke, I was giddy. It was an infinite supply of ammunition for the Big Blue Nation’s utter hatred for all things red. When news trickled out throughout the day yesterday and into this morning, I was like a kid running down the stairs on Christmas morning. It’s a KSR writer’s dream.
But when I talked to a few fans following the breaking news, I understood some of their pain. It wasn’t just the beginning of a punishment that will likely cripple the program for many years to come, it was the end of a true fandom for many.
“The year we won the championship, that was the first time I connected with my dad through college basketball,” said one diehard Cardinal fan. “That’s a memory I’ll cherish forever. But it’s so hard to continue to try to defend Louisville when this stuff keeps happening. I love the city of Louisville and I love our athletic department, but being a real fan sucks right now. It’s honestly depressing.”
For some fans, the pain they have for the innocent players in the program feeling the brunt of this punishment is the worst aspect of this entire situation.
“My heart breaks for the honest and innocent college players at UofL to play a sport they love. Guys like Quentin Snider, Anas Mahmoud, Ray Spalding, etc., who have absolutely nothing to do with this, are going to get punished for the acts of a few selfish coaches and teammates. We already saw it with Trey Lewis and Damion Lee following the Katina Powell scandal. Those are the people I feel awful for.”
I grew up in Louisville, playing in the youth basketball circles with Louisville senior guard Quentin Snider. From the time he was eight years old, Snider had the dream of suiting up in a UofL uniform in the future and winning a national championship, and he let everyone know it. It was inspiring. Because of the work of several disgusting members of the administration and on the coaching staff, however, any chance of Snider reaching his dream as a senior is destroyed. Even as a Kentucky fan, seeing that transpire is truly heartbreaking.
For most Louisville fans, this is a time of shame in a “pot-meet-kettle” moment. When Calipari was hired at Kentucky, the entire Cardinal fanbase believed future NCAA sanctions were inevitable. Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports wrote that the program “sold their souls” by bringing on John “PayPal Cal” Calipari as head coach. There is no way a coach with a history of vacated Final Fours at two different schools could ever survive at the University of Kentucky.
Eight years and three significant scandals later, the Cardinals are seen as the embarrassment of college basketball, while Kentucky has gone unscathed.
“Funny though because Louisville always tried to differentiate itself from Kentucky by calling Calipari a slimy car salesman, insinuating that UK was the more dishonest program,” another Cardinal diehard said. “If we want to play the integrity card, we have to put our money where our mouths are.”
One Louisville fan doesn’t even understand the thought process behind the program’s cheating, especially considering it hasn’t resulted in massive success.
“Here’s the sad part to me. Louisville is like B/B+ at sports in my mind,” he said. “How can a school with so many scandals not just destroy and pillage all other schools when it comes to sports? Like the Russian Olympic teams of the 80’s where the records are still unbroken, we should be dominating for how often we are in the news with this nonsense.”
When news leaked of the Louisville program being included in the FBI investigations, another fan said he hopes those involved on the coaching staff are punished to the fullest extent.
“Good on the FBI, punish to the fullest extent of the law,” he said. “This is a blatant disregard of the law and disrespectful to the city and fans.”
And he’s right. Above all else, this situation is utterly disrespectful. The NCAA forced the school to vacate 108 regular-season and 15 NCAA Tournament games, including the 2013 National Championship. A month and a half later, a Louisville assistant coach was recorded on camera telling a recruit he had to be “low-key” about how he’d give him cash under the table because his school was on probation. Another player was paid $100,000 to attend the school, and is still officially listed on the roster.
Now, the NCAA is forced to go back to the drawing board on where to even start on not only concluding their original punishment process for the strippers, but beginning arguably the biggest scandal in the history of the sport. No remorse, no guilt, just an arrogant attempt at skating by yet again.
It’s a blatant slap in the face to the fans that spend their hard-earned money to attend games and dedicate their time and effort on a program that doesn’t respect them back.
As much as it absolutely pains me to say it, the Louisville fanbase deserves better than this.
The UofL athletic department is a disgrace to their fans, the city of Louisville and the state of Kentucky. Getting rid of Rick Pitino and Tom Jurich was just the beginning of this incredible mess they got themselves into.
But it was at least a fresh start.
It’s been a crazy day for Rick Pitino, Tom Jurich, the University, and honestly, all of us here at KSR, so let’s take a minute to survey how the scandal is playing out nationally. ESPN devoted almost three hours of coverage to the developments in Louisville and it’s the top headline on every national sports outlet. Here’s a roundup of headlines, ranging from sympathetic to scathing:
Sporting News’ Mike DeCourcy: “Rick Pitino can play victim, but sad end at Louisville is largely his fault”
In his testimony [in the Karen Sypher trial], there was a moment that became a microcosm of how the remainder of his Louisville tenure would unfold: “There was one motive from the day all this started,” Pitino said, “and that was to blackmail me.”
This is who Pitino became in his final eight years as the Cardinals’ head coach, right up until he was placed on unpaid administrative leave: the oblivious victim.
Rick Pitino turned out to be a colossal waste of talent. Forced out by Louisville on Wednesday, Pitino will not be remembered as a coach who made regular appearances in the Final Four.
He will be remembered as the architect of a morally bankrupt program, and as a complete disgrace to his profession.
Dick Vitale: “It breaks your heart”
CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish: “Louisville officials had no choice but to begin removal of Rick Pitino as coach”
And it really doesn’t matter what Pitino did or did not know. Because one of two things, and one of only two things, happened here, and neither is good. Either a Louisville assistant was operating outside of the NCAA rulebook withPitino’s blessing while the school was on probation and still stained by scandal, and Pitino is lying when he says he had no knowledge these things were allegedly happening, which is clearly a fireable offense. Or a Louisville assistant was operating outside of the NCAA rulebook without Pitino’s blessing while the school was on probation and still stained by scandal, which would suggest Pitino has absolutely no control over the people working underneath him, or that he’s done nothing to convince them the days of blatant cheating have to end, which is clearly a fireable offense.
This should be a time for sober reflection and honest self-assessment, but Pitino will only go down that road if there is a book deal in it. He has been selling so long and so well that he knows no other way. He got caught cheating on his wife and angrily proclaimed that recruiting was still going great. His program hired hookers to lure high school students and Pitino sold himself as the victim. Louisville apparently paid six figures for a recruit and he released a statement saying it was “initiated by a few bad actors … our fans and supporters deserve better and I am committed to taking whatever steps are needed to ensure those responsible are held accountable.”
This is who Pitino is, and how he has always operated. Pitino understood, long before anybody else realized it, that coaching college basketball is not about college and it is only sort of about basketball. It’s a marketing game. Almost every coach has a hustle, an angle, a pitch for players and fans and especially the media. Some coaches see their hustle as a necessary evil. Pitino saw it as his calling.
Pitino lasted through the things he did because he was so good at playing the game, but now the government has decided that playing the game itself is illegal. In the screwed-up world of college sports, paying prostitutes is apparently less egregious than paying student-athletes.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©September 27th, 2017 @ 5:29pm
It shouldn’t surprise you, but Rick Pitino’s not giving up.
After being effectively fired by Louisville this morning, Pitino released a statement via his lawyer, Steve Pence, that shows he’s ready to fight…for a very big severance package, at least. In the statement, Pence insists that UofL didn’t have just cause for letting his client go.
“The information disclosed thus far in the investigation is clearly insufficient to implicate Coach Pitino in any type of misconduct or other activity that would violate the terms of his contract,” the statement reads. “In sum, Coach Pitino has done nothing wrong and there is no evidence to suggest otherwise. The rush to judgment is regrettable.”
It gets better.
“The facts will inevitably exonerate him.”
Basically, Pitino right now:
The entire statement, via Joe Sonka:
STATEMENT FROM RICK PITINO: pic.twitter.com/PswhgUCE7e
— Joe Sonka 😐 (@joesonka) September 27, 2017
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©September 27th, 2017 @ 3:04pm
Dick Vitale has been one of Rick Pitino’s biggest supporters for a long time, but even he saw the writing on the wall last night.
Dickie V called into Bob Valvano’s show on ESPN 680 in Louisville this afternoon and said he called Pitino last night and left him a voicemail encouraging him to resign. Per Andy Sweeney, Vitale said he’s spoken to a person close to the scandal who believes that since it broke, someone flipped and more schools will be named. After the call, Dickie V got on the Twitter and said the same thing:
Just had a call that already there is some flipping going on by some arrested yesterday by @FBI / this is getting uglier = SLEAZE !
— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) September 27, 2017
We’ve only just begun…
By Sam Gormley on ©September 27th, 2017 @ 3:00pm
Ah, the fall of Rick Pitino. Two years ago, Pitino was one of the most respected coaches in the nation and one that still had a spot in the heart of many Kentucky fans. That could all end now. It all started in 2003, when Rick Pitino had sexual contact with Karen Sypher. In 2009, the story was released as Sypher was charged with extortion after trying to receive money and cars in exchange for her to keep quiet. Pitino was given the opportunity to play the victim card, but it is hard to overlook the facts of the case. Pitino committed adultery and also began his slow and steady decline.
Then came October 2nd, 2015, when Katina Powell published her infamous book, Breaking Cardinal Rules. The book was filled with allegations of nearly two dozen parties with dancers and prostitutes. Pitino came out later that month asssuring fans that he, “will not resign and let you down.”
That leads us to December 26th, 2015, when Rick Pitino left floor at Rupp Arena by flipping off the crowd. At that time, we had no idea that that would be the last time Pitino would ever leave the floor at Rupp.
This all leads us to yesterday, where Pitino’s UofL team was again placed under scrutiny, this time by the FBI. Whether Pitino knew about the parties and the bribery that occurred, it shows that Pitino had very little control over his program and deserved his inevitable firing.
This leads us to the following question: Following everything that has happened with Pitino over the past two years, should Kentucky remove his name from the rafters at Rupp Arena?
Rick Pitino’s name has been tainted. Ever since he left for the Celtics in 1997, he has taken a slow decline and it is safe to admit that he has hit rock bottom. How many people across the country can get away with adultery, prostitution within the program and now corruption. When most Kentucky fans are asked what they think about when they hear the name Rick Pitino, they won’t mention him bringing the Cats out of one of the darkest eras in program history and him leading them to their sixth national championship. Instead, they will think about all of the above. The Pitino name is tainted and it is time for the University of Kentucky to take action as well.
When looking at who should be placed in the rafters at Rupp Arena, it is important to define what it means to be there. It means that that person had a lasting impact on Kentucky. In other words, Kentucky would not be where they are today without that person. It is impossible to know where the Cats would be without Rick Pitino. In fact, we need to look at the basic facts of what Pitino accomplished:
- He spent 8 years at the helm of UK; the fourth longest tenure in school history (soon to be fifth as Calipari starts his 9th season this year)
- He won 219 games; the fifth most in school history
- He made 6 NCAA Tournaments (Cats were ineligible two of his years)
- He made 5 Elite Eights
- He made 3 Final Fours
- He won the 1996 National Championship
- He should be credited with helping win the 1998 National Championship; that was his team anyways
- 17 of the players he coached made the NBA
For those reasons, Rick Pitino deserves to be in the rafters at Rupp Arena. Being in the rafters is about what you did while at Kentucky not after. If we take down Pitino, shouldn’t we take down Richie Farmer too?
What do you think? Vote in the poll below then leave a comment with your reason why or why not. You can also let me know on Twitter @GormleyKSR
By Drew Franklin on ©September 27th, 2017 @ 2:27pm
It didn’t take long for future Louisville Cardinals to jump ship following today’s news.
Anfernee Simons was the first to decommit from the program, not even an hour after the UofL press conference was televised nationally. Simons is the top-ranked combo guard and the No. 12 overall player in the Class of 2018, according to the 247 Composite Rankings.
Shortly after Simons reopened his recruitment, another Louisville commit did the same. Courtney Ramey, the ninth-ranked guard in the Class of 2018, will consider other schools after committing to Pitino and the Cards earlier this year. Ramey’s father told Scout.com, “We aren’t excited about it, but it’s something we have to do.”
I don’t think anyone is surprised by the news.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©September 27th, 2017 @ 1:23pm
If interim president Greg Postel has his way, UofL will have its interim head coach and athletic director in the next 48 hours.
After announcing that Rick Pitino and Tom Jurich have been placed on administrative leave due to technicalities in their contract, Postel left no doubt that the university is moving forward without them.
“We hope to have an interim head coach and athletic director named in the next 48 hours,” Postel said.
Pitino is currently on unpaid administrative leave, which the athletics association board will vote to make official within 10 days; Jurich is on paid administrative leave, which will be voted on within 30 days. While it may seem like that leaves wiggle room, UofL Board of Trustees chairman J. David Grissom stepped in to make the university’s position very clear.
“The board of trustees unanimously supports the actions of Postel,” Grissom said.
As for Brian Bowen, the player at the center of the scandal? Postel announced he has been suspended indefinitely and will not be allowed to participate in workouts. In fact, it appears he has already left campus.
Who will get the nod to leave the Cards in their darkest hour?
“We’re looking for someone with integrity, someone with knowledge of the sport, someone who can have the respect of the players,” Postel said.
By Nick Roush on ©September 27th, 2017 @ 12:56pm
Just when you thought today couldn’t get any better, ESPN’s Lisa Kerney reports Tom Crean could emerge as a candidate to become UofL’s interim head coach.
It makes sense. College basketball practice starts this week. Louisville will not be able to pry an active head coach away from their program to take over one that will certainly be on probation for the foreseeable future. After he was terminated at Indiana following the 2017 season, Crean needs a job. I can’t think of a better place for him than the University of Louisville.
Please Louisville, PLEASE hire Tom Crean so we can post more glorious images like this:
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©September 27th, 2017 @ 12:54pm
Thanks to LEX18, we are taking you live to UofL’s campus, where interim president Greg Postel is expected to address reporters about Rick Pitino and Tom Jurich at 1 p.m.:
Countless fans have wished to see Rick Pitino’s demise since he became the University of Louisville head coach in 2001. Now that his day of reckoning has finally arrived, The Big Blue Nation will miss Rick Pitino.
It only took three years for the former Knicks coach to become the most beloved man in Kentucky. Pitino reigned supreme across the Commonwealth in the 90s, creating chaos on the court with uptempo offense and full-court press defense. Off the court, the sharp-dressed New York Italian used his charisma and wit to charm the Big Blue Nation like never before, but it was not meant to be.
Fans were sad to see Pitino leave Lexington to coach the Boston Celtics. He returned to the Commonwealth in 2001 a traitor.
Born in 1991, I have a few fleeting memories of the championships in the 90s, but my first memory of Kentucky basketball is hating Rick Pitino. He was a traitor. How could somebody coach UofL after winning a National Championship at UK? It was inconceivable, unfathomable, impossible for my ten-year old brain to comprehend.
Pitino’s plunge into the dark side transformed him into the Big Blue Nation’s greatest villain. At first, we feared he would replicate his UK success at UofL. Instead, he became the rivalry’s punching bag.
A nuisance that beat Kentucky a few times early in the rebuilding process (with one ironically thanks to another former Wildcat, Marvin Stone), Pitino did not reach ultimate villain status until his heir apparent arrived at Kentucky.
John Calipari is beloved by the BBN for many reasons. One reason, and maybe the most important reason, is that he is a younger, better Rick Pitino. Charismatic characters with NBA pasts in the northeast, Rick used a press to win over the fans and rebuild the Kentucky basketball program, while Cal did it with the best talent in America. The unspoken shared disdain for one another made the rivalry better than ever. As Cal beat Pitino over and over and over and over and over again, Kentucky fans never had more fun.
With Calipari as Pitino’s counterpart just 80 miles west, it forced Rick to become an animated UK villain. He lied with hilarious hyperboles on a regular basis (Mr personal favorite: “Mike Marra is the best shooter I’ve ever coached”). A hypocrite who wore a stupid white suit, got a tattoo on his disgusting old man back and flipped off UK fans after a loss, Kentucky fans didn’t need anymore ammunition, but he gave them more. Fifteen seconds with Karen Sypher and parties with Katina Powell made him a permanent punchline across the Big Blue Nation.
That is why today is a sad day across the Big Blue Nation. Pitino was easy to hate because he used to coach at Kentucky. Pitino was a punchline because he was surrounded by (premature) sex scandals. The BBN has lost their favorite punching bag and Kentucky’s ultimate villain.
The rivalry will never be the same.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©September 27th, 2017 @ 12:37pm
Yes, Rick Pitino and Tom Jurich are out at Louisville, but to make it official, the athletics association has to vote on it.
There were a lot of mixed signals coming out of UofL after a university spokesman denied initial reports that Jurich and Pitino had been fired, but according to Joe Sonka, protocol calls for the two to be put on leave until the athletics association makes the firings official. But, let there be zero doubt: as of now, the two are “effectively fired.”
Press conference coming at 1 p.m. We’ll do our best to stream it on the website, but if the server continues to flatline, tune into ESPN or 630 WLAP.