While Louisville’s 31-point loss to Providence last night may have been the “point blank period” on Rick Pitino’s fall from grace, the national media had already started to pick up on Rick’s rotting scent. On Tony Kornheiser’s radio show on Monday, Tony interviewed Gene Wojciechowski about his new book about the ’92 Kentucky/Duke game (which is apparently the best book ever written), and the two discussed the Rick Pitino of old vs. the sad Rick Pitino of now. Eric Crawford transcribed the discussion on his tumblr page, and I’ve included my favorite portions below:
TONY KORNHEISER: Rick Pitino was, in my mind, a heroic figure when he went to Kentucky, given all the sanctions against Kentucky and all of that, and he won so quickly, and as conceited as he is and was – I always really liked him, he’s a Long Island boy and I was used to all that stuff – I don’t think he’s anywhere near that now. It almost looks like this second act at Louisville, it’s almost, not sad, because he wins a lot, but he doesn’t win championships, there’s something deflating about it, and now almost deflating about him. He’s already announced, and God knows why, that he’s going to retire in four or five years. What do you make of, I would guess that you like Pitino, what do you make of him now?
GENE WOJCIECHOWSKI: Well …
KORNHEISER: That was long-winded, wasn’t it Gene?
WOJCIECHOWSKI: No, no, it wasn’t long-winded at all and it’s a valid point because, simply because Louisville isn’t Kentucky. No place is Kentucky. And so anything that Rick Pitino chose after Kentucky, at least in the context of the college landscape, was never going to equal what the Big Blue Nation is. I mean, people used to drive by his house in the cul-de-sac outside Lexington just to look at his house. I mean, they didn’t do that when he was coach of the Knicks. I don’t think they do that when he’s the coach of Louisville.
KORNHEISER: Will he ever win again?
WOJCIECHOWSKI: You know it as well as I do, Tony. If you get the players, you’ll win. And Kentucky gets the players. I don’t know if Kentucky’s ever going to win a national championship, based on this formula of one-and-dones, but if you get the players you’ve always got a chance to win it.
KORNHEISER: But Krzyzewski continues to win, you know, I mean, give Krzyzewski this, over an extended period of time he challenges for the title all the time, and just won one a couple of years ago, and no one is going to be surprised if he wins another. Right? No one’s going to be surprised?
WOJCIECHOWSKI: No. But Louisville is not Duke. And Louisville is a semi-commuter campus. I’m not saying it’s not a fine school in its own right, but it’s not Duke. And while it has a great basketball legacy, it’s not Kentucky either. And, you know, they sort of rolled the bones on Pitino, and he’s done very well, and he could end up winning a championship there, but it’s going to take a lot for him to pull that off at Louisville.
You can listen to the podcast of interview here. They start talking Pitino around the 26:38 mark.