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Louisville fans imploding on themselves, Pitino

As a nearly lifelong Louisville resident, I not only get my share of UK fandom, but also get to see the other side of the aisle in the attitudes of Louisville fans.  And lately, they have literally been fleeing in droves away from support of Rick Pitino.  The statement heard most often on local sports talk radio and message boards over the past 4 weeks has been:

“The game has passed Pitino up.  UL will never be elite with him as coach.  Etc, etc, etc.”

Now, it is only fair that I mention that our fanbase basically did the same thing to Tubby Smith several years ago, but whereas Tubby’s teams often played up to their potential (mediocre), Pitino’s teams have been under-performing, especially in the postseason.  This season was not supposed to be an elite UL team, BUT they have still greatly underperformed and find themselves squarely on the bubble without a quality win on the schedule. 

As UK fans, you can have the opinion that is was sleazy and wrong for Pitino to coach our rivals.  You can have the opinion that Pitino personally is a disaster, as his summer escapades proved.  But, one thing that even UK fans have to admit is that Pitino is one hell of a college basketball coach.  And if you think that I am wrong with that assumption, take a look at what other college coaches have done since the 2004-05 season (5 seasons plus this year):

RICK PITINO
Overall Record: 151-50
Conference Record: 68-26
Regular Season Conference Titles: 2
Conference Tournament Titles: 2
NCAA Berths: 4 (0 titles)
Final Fours: 1
NIT Berths: 1

JIM BOEHEIM
Overall Record: 145-55
Conference Record: 57-37
Regular Season Conference Titles: 0
Conference Tournament Titles: 2
NCAA Berths: 3 (0 titles)
Final Fours: 0
NIT Berths: 2

JIM CALHOUN
Overall Record: 138-47
Conference Record: 64-27
Regular Season Conference Titles: 2
Conference Tournament Titles: 0
NCAA Berths: 4 (0 titles)
Final Fours: 1
NIT Berths: 1

MIKE KRZYZEWSKI
Overall Record: 158-38
Conference Record: 64-25
Regular Season Conference Titles: 1
Conference Tournament Titles: 3
NCAA Berths: 5 (0 titles)
Final Fours: 0
NIT Berths: 0

RICK BARNES
Overall Record: 148-51
Conference Record: 61-27
Regular Season Conference Titles: 2
Conference Tournament Titles: 0
NCAA Berths: 5 (0 titles)
Final Fours: 0
NIT Berths: 0

BOB HUGGINS
Overall Record: 116-44 (Huggins missed the 05-06 season due to a drinking problem)
Conference Record: 51-27
Regular Season Conference Titles: 0
Conference Tournament Titles: 0
NCAA Berths: 3 (0 titles)
Final Fours: 0
NIT Berths: 1

If Louisville fans, or Kentucky fans for that matter, want to say the game has passed Pitino up, or he is past his prime, let me ask you this: Has it also passed up Boeheim, Huggins, Calhoun, Coach K and Barnes?  The answer is no, of course.

I don’t write this post to defend Pitino to the death.  Like I said earlier, his team has greatly underachieved this season.  But just last year, they were the #1 OVERALL SEED in the NCAA Tournament.  They have been to 2 Elite Eights in 5 years.  I actually write it so that we, as fans of UK and haters of our rival UL, can laugh at the ridiculousness of the UL fanbase and their criticism of Pitino, and take this as fair warning if Coach Cal has a subpar season.  When you have an elite coach like a Pitino or Calipari, it doesn’t prevent you from having a down year.  Run 2 or 3 together, then your eyes can turn to the coach.

If you didn’t notice, I missed putting Calipari on the list.  That’s because his stats are as good, if not better than anyone not named Roy Williams over the last 5 years.  So in the end, we are getting the better end of coaching deal.  But keep this warning in your head: BE HAPPY WITH WHAT WE GOT, AND CHERISH THE FACT THAT WE ARE ONE OF MAYBE 10 SCHOOLS WITH AN ELITE COACH.  And that elite coach tier includes Rick Pitino.

Article written by Bryan the Intern