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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Pitino Always an Enemy?

Today we take on maybe the most polarizing figure in the UK world today, Rick Pitino.  Pitino saved Kentucky, plain and simple.  His hire by CM Newton allowed UK to quickly recover from probation and become a national power again, while also instituting a highly entertaining brand of basketball.  But after leading Kentucky to 2 straight national title games, he bolted, failed in the NBA, and then took a job with our rival.  And eventually led our rival to a national title too.

Well, I have always argued that I hold no bad feelings toward Pitino because I only take what he did while the coach of our school into account.  It’s the same reason that it doesn’t matter to me either way if a guy is successful in the NBA or NFL.  I hold as much love for Jeff Sheppard as I do for Anthony Davis and their NBA careers have zero to do with it.  Once Pitino left UK, my feelings for him were set.  I appreciated what he did for the program and should be considered one of our greatest coaches.  I got this letter in 2011 from a guy about Pitino and I’ve always held onto it because I think it perfectly encapsulates what many in this fanbase feel but are often shouted over by those fans who want to hate everything.

“BTI, you are one to say crazy things so let me throw this one at you.  As a Kentucky fan since 1987, Rick Pitino and his tenure at Kentucky were a huge part of my fanhood.  I would say that even during the 2 Calipari years, I haven’t gotten as excited as I did during Pitino’s time in Lexington.  Then, after taking us to a title once and 2 other Final Fours, he left for one of the great coaching jobs in sports for an absurd amount of money.  He failed in Boston, and has openly admitted that leaving Lexington was the biggest mistake of his career.

But this is where it gets hazy for me.  When he was gone from Boston, there were basically 3 major college basketball jobs open: Michigan, UNLV, and Louisville.  And from what I understand, and what you typically get from Tom Jurich, UL offered him the most money, and is likely the most prestigious of those 3 jobs.  So Pitino took it. 

In my opinion, he simply made the best business decision for him.  I have never understood the hatred for taking the job of the rival, especially since Pitino had no ties to UK before taking the job in 1989.  It would absolutely be different if Joe B. Hall took the UL job because he was a UK player and bled blue.  Pitino took the UK job not because he loved Kentucky, but simply because it was the best job available at the time.  Which is exactly what he did at Louisville as well.

So again, why is it a requirement as a UK fan to hate Pitino?  The man brought this program back from its darkest day and then made 2 business decisions that were best for his checkbook.  I am sure he came to love the program, but to assume because he coached here he was FORBIDDEN from coaching Louisville seems absurd to me.  Especially when you consider there was another job in between those 2 stops. 

And if you choose to publish this, don’t let people tell you it is about the abortion.  All that Sypher crap did was add ammunition to UK fans arsenal.  They hated him at 100% before, and that just made it funnier.  Nobody hates him now that didn’t hate him before Sypher.  So that is a cop-out excuse to hate the guy simply because their feelings were hurt for silly reasons before. 

So I guess the question is: Why should we hate a guy that brought us so much joy?  I don’t get it and consider me a lifelong Pitino fan for what he did.  And I hope he loses every game at UL.  Hahaha.  Keep it up.  Don’t let the haters get you down.

-Jerry in Bardstown”

I love it.  Jerry hits on all the major points but I don’t understand hating a person who did so much for our program.  Did he elevate our rival?  Yes.  But wouldn’t you rather have a competitive rival that means so much more to beat than a rival who barely wins 15 games a year, as it was at the end of the Denny Crum tenure?  If we couldn’t have Pitino here, I am glad he went to Louisville.  Doesn’t make it easy when they win it all, but it makes it that much sweeter to beat them in the NCAA Tournament……twice.

So, is there any chance this fanbase loves Pitino 100% ever again?  I hope so, but I know that is wishful thinking.  Is it just impossible for some of you to ever get behind him again?

Article written by Bryan the Intern

38 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Pitino Always an Enemy?

  1. PatrickPattersonISwalkingthruthatdoor
    9:07 am December 29, 2014 Permalink

    smh, BTI. just go ahead and kill yourself. either that or promise never to write about basketball again.

    • syrin23
      12:35 pm December 29, 2014 Permalink

      Notice he doesn’t address the tattoo. That’s when I decided to hate the guy

    • plumloopy
      2:49 pm December 29, 2014 Permalink

      Wow – these comments are embarrassing. I expected some begrudging agreement at least. I agree with the writer wholeheartedly.

  2. gottodoit
    9:20 am December 29, 2014 Permalink

    Allow me to reiterate: I hate Pitino.

  3. Pitinohater
    9:37 am December 29, 2014 Permalink

    I think my log in name says it all.

  4. 4mrcatathlete
    9:37 am December 29, 2014 Permalink

    I would agree we should appreciate what he did at UK, but when he came to Louisville he went out of his way to conveniently forget his time at UK, he consistently gave back handed compliments to UK and BBN and he rarely if ever mentioned his great UK teams or players when he had the opportunity … now he is simply a mockery of his former self from a social / media perspective, which is sad because his coaching might be at his best ever, after all he did beat Cal a couple years ago so he must be doing something right … #L1C7

    • UK1983
      11:24 am December 29, 2014 Permalink

      it is not that he took the job, it is all about how he has acted – and ignored his association with UK ever since. It’s almost like he was never in Lexington. He refuses to acknowledge that the job at Kentucky was good to him. That is why I can’t cheer for him.

  5. ClutchCargo
    9:38 am December 29, 2014 Permalink

    It’s really not that hard to understand. We embraced Pitino’s arrogance when he was at UK because he was OUR arrogant prick. He left and came back to coach our rival, that all changed. I will, however, give him props for losing to Billy G in the tourney, which led to the bottoming out of the program under Gillispie and the hiring of Cal. That was a painful but necessary process.

  6. sylvar
    9:38 am December 29, 2014 Permalink

    Hate is a strong word. I never hated him for taking the UL job, but I certainly shook my head when he did.

    • gottodoit
      12:41 pm December 29, 2014 Permalink

      I couldn’t think of anything stronger.

  7. Time Expired
    9:38 am December 29, 2014 Permalink

    I have no respect for a man who coaches the way he does in an effort to win. Flops, grabs, slaps, pushes, when he knows he cannot compete any other way. Pushing players off the team when he decides they will never be the player he thought he recruited. Yes he saved UK while here and done a great job and was totally loved by the fan base as well as myself. He was a better coach then than now as he has resorted to dirty play and dirty players.

  8. jahanc2uky
    9:40 am December 29, 2014 Permalink

    Tom Jurich is classless! He is the person that should be disliked. Offering your coaching job to a previous UK coach is a classless move. I would say the amount of ‘classlessness’ is equal to that of hiring a football coach who was cheating on his wife. I do not want to hear the hiring the best coach available or giving the man a 2nd chance argument. If Jurich had class, he makes different hires at both positions. The city of Louisville should consider both hires are an embarrassment to the city/school. Winning is not greater than how you win. Another reason why Kentucky is a better sports program/school.

  9. Kevin C
    9:41 am December 29, 2014 Permalink

    BTI, do you know what “career suicide” means? If not, you will. SMFMH….

  10. The Original WTF Guy
    9:41 am December 29, 2014 Permalink

    First off, I never liked RP although I should admit I never met him personally. But there was always something about him that seemed he felt he was saving us stupid hillbillies from ourselves. Doesn’t mean I don’t think he could coach basketball because I did and believe he is one of a handful of people who changed the way the game was played, in his case by being the first guy to fully exploit the 3-pointer.

    I hated to see him leave UK because of the success we had on the court, but neither did I begrudge him doing it as he had done all he could at UK and was going back to the team he probably grew up wanting to coach more than any other.

    I don’t necessarily have a problem with him taking the UL job. Where my issue with him comes from is his contention when he was hired that other than a “small minded minority” he thought UK fans would pull for UL 364 days out of the year. To me that is simply indicative of his thinking the entire time he was here. In other words, he never got it. Oh, maybe towards the end he did, but he never became one of us. While I know it may seem blasphemous to mention RP and BCG in the same sentence, for all his faults (and there were MANY) at least BCG got it. He understood what being at UK meant. I believe RP felt it was us who should have been thankful for him being here rather than vice versa. Part of that is due to the fact that while I had* had a great deal of respect for him as a coach and appreciate what he did at UK I never thought he was the only coach who could have done it. He may have done it quicker, but we are UK. We have had five coaches win national championships. At UK you are on the biggest and best platform in the country. I don’t think he ever got that.

    So I don’t hate him because he went to UL, I hate him because he never understood what UK is and what it means to the people of the Commonwealth. Contrast RP’s actions with those of Cal who loaded up the NCAA trophy on a bus and took it on a tour so those not in Lexington could see it.

    *I say I had a great deal of respect for him for a coach because of what he has become. No one can deny the late career renaissance which has resulted in two Final Fours and a title, but to do that he has had to basically turn his back on the beautiful basketball he used to coach. Think about the 1996 UK team. It was like watching art on a basketball court. It truly was the “beautiful game.” Now think about the 2012-2014 Cards. It’s like watching a steaming pile of shit slowly spread from center court to cover the entire court. It’s ugly, it stinks, and it is an abomination to the game.

    • ClutchCargo
      9:49 am December 29, 2014 Permalink

      Pretty much spot on. However, I will give him credit for having a big enough personality when he came here to actually run the program and keep the fans somewhat in check. Very few coaches out there have been able to do that. Tubby was really bad at that aspect. Cal is the best at it.

    • ClutchCargo
      9:53 am December 29, 2014 Permalink

      …having said that, today I wouldn’t cheer for a Pitino-coached team if he was going up against the Taliban all-stars.

    • Catsby80
      11:11 am December 29, 2014 Permalink

      clutch… that last comment you made might be the funniest comment i’ve ever read on this site. i laughed aloud at work and had to explain what gave me such a chuckle. kudos.

      happy monday to my bbn brethren!

  11. ukufan
    9:47 am December 29, 2014 Permalink

    Puck Fitino! He has “coached” his way onto my hate list!

  12. Forthesakeofeducation
    9:48 am December 29, 2014 Permalink

    Not trying to be funny etc., but Pitino is dead to me. He will never have my support.

  13. JP Livco
    10:06 am December 29, 2014 Permalink

    How many other people have left and disrespected UK basketball in such a manner? Once a wildcat always a wildcat. But when you take the Louisville job…GAME OVER. That’s called selfishness. Use the excuse of “business decision” all you want but he showed his true selfish colors. And I’ll always believe he took shots out of Mashburn’s hands. System first. Players second. All about him. Definitely not players first.

  14. ReverendBlue
    10:10 am December 29, 2014 Permalink

    I was a huge Pitino fan when he was our coach. He brought an exciting brand of basketball (pressing, fast breaks, and shooting 3’s) at a time when our program was at a low point.

    However, it is often mentioned on this site how “Cal gets it.” Cal just understands this fan base and what being the coach of the Big Blue Nation is all about. And, because he gets it, I just don’t think Cal would ever coach at U of L.

    Pitino was (and still is) a good coach. But he obviously didn’t really “get it” if he thought UK fans would be okay with him taking that job. He even said some thing when he returned that led me to believe he even thought UK fans might start cheering for U of L as well because he was there now. Uhh…. no.

    • plumloopy
      2:54 pm December 29, 2014 Permalink

      “But he obviously didn’t really “get it” if he thought UK fans would be okay with him taking that job. ”

      And you don’t get it if you think he was worried about what some UK fans thought of him.

  15. klassact32
    10:14 am December 29, 2014 Permalink

    I will always hate him, and will always think he nothing more than scum. You want to call it a “business decision”, if that makes you feel better then so be it. Many people say Louisville was the best job available and to this day I will argue that the Michigan job was a better job than Louisville. Not sure what they are basing this on? I honestly believe that the arrogant prick thought UK fans would embrace him and how wrong he was. This was evident when he tried walking out of the home tunnel the first time he returned to UK. I think the letter writer states he has only been a fan since 87. I have been a fan since 1968. The younger fan base does not understand that UK will survive and rebuild because we are UK. We damn near had the death sentence put on us for the point shaving scandal during the Rupp years, yet we survived. Pitino took credit for what others had done making the statement, “I have built a base for UK to succeed. what an arrogant ass!!!!! What in the world did Rupp and Hall do? play tiddley winks for goodness sakes? This statement goes out to any Coach at UK including the current Coach, and that is no Coach is bigger than UK basketball, that include Pitino and Cal!!

  16. 25OR624
    10:18 am December 29, 2014 Permalink

    If CAL left at the end of 2014-2015 season, and the offer was extended to Pitino, he’d likely accept – and we’d all be delighted. He’s like GE F Hutton: He brings good things to life and when he talks people, listen.

    • gottodoit
      11:20 am December 29, 2014 Permalink

      No. That comment was considered too short to post. So, again, NO.

    • .Leuther
      12:27 pm December 29, 2014 Permalink

      Rating: 2.9/5 this site
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      Posted: Today 9:17 AM

      Re: Why are Dakari Johnson and Marcus Lee at UK?
      They came for the money. Clear and simple. Lee won’t make it to the pros playing 8-10 minutes of mop up duty. He sucks now and would only be an average player if he was forced to play many minutes without 8 MCDAA’s by his side……And anyone is naive’ to not see what is going on in the NCAA world of basketball. UNC academic scandal, Duke’s past with Corey Magette, Kansas and the questions they’ve had, uk and a myriad of Eric Bledsoe suddenly aceing an algebra 3 online course, DeMarcus Cousins family, Anthony Davis supposed gift to daddy, Terrence Jones and the Escalade that he ran from, etc. The Ncaa is clearly turning a blind eye to the cheating of the big 4 names for ESPN. Pretty pathetic for the game of college basketball (or ESPN) to push the leaders up front and center for the ride to March.

  17. clhcat
    10:22 am December 29, 2014 Permalink

    I believe you have hit the nail BTI….and these responses to your article “locate” those who have and do respond. Having been a UK fan for almost 50 years gives me a unique perspective. During all this half century of fandom I have experienced all the highs and lows that BBN has had to offer. I actually attended the Rupp Issel Pratt basketball camp as a teenager and witnessed Coach Rupp teaching…although he was elderly, retired and didn’t stay long.
    All of our coaches have left their jobs here with certain levels of “belovedness” bestowed upon them by BBN. And with BBN, I can’t dismiss the different levels of fandom there are within our big blue community. Obviously these different levels represent a complex makeup, which encompasses all levels of society; all levels of income, all races, all age groups, all different geographic locales. We are huge!
    We are never going to escape the different levels of commitment given to the individuals life inside BBN. Some of us are eaten up with UK basketball……YOU GUYS ARE CRAZY!
    I know folks who hate Rick Pitino and are never going to change. I happen to fall into the category as a Pitino fan. However, that does not disqualify me from hating the filthy cards. I will always hate the filthy cards. I agree for the first time I think with Matt Jones……that they make it so easy for us to laugh at them. We are crazy…..they are ridiculous! Pitino has joined that certain level of ridiculousness that encompasses their fan base. Its kind of like if you see someone in a ditch full of $hit and you fall in trying to help them out….you both are covered in $hit. I feel this is where Pitino finds himself today. I kind of feel sorry for a guy that restored our program. I can’t get past this…..He restored our program, which I love him for, and I feel sorry for him being covered in $hit. Sort of sad isn’t it?
    So, to conclude todays teaching, Pitino restored our program and he deserves the credit many don’t give him….then he made a business decision to coach the filthy cards, which I understand. I think Its ok to love him…..its ok to hate him……..Just don’t lose your dignity and behave like a heathen, $hit covered filthy card fan.
    P.S. I’m hoping this post escapes moderation from Matt….(he knows I’m right)

    • Saul T. Nuts
      2:26 pm December 29, 2014 Permalink

      Out of all these Pitino-hating comments, this is the only one I agree with…

  18. bouzoukiman
    10:45 am December 29, 2014 Permalink

    Way to mail it in with a post that’s been recycled 1000 times. How many times do I have to repost my reply? If he had said when he took the job “I understand why some ppl won’t like this but I have to do what is best for my family” instead of saying “I know some small minded ppl won’t like this”, he would not have engendered as much animosity as he did, but he didn’t. End of story. He made his bed, he can lay in it.

    Also, I don’t hate him, but I do hate that he chose to kill his baby and make him or her pay for his sin.

  19. Bluebloodtoo
    11:22 am December 29, 2014 Permalink

    I guess I don’t really hold much ill will towards Pitino for taking the UL job; that’s a career choice that is completely his to make. I do appreciate what he did during his time at Kentucky.

    The problem with Pitino for me is that I don’t have much (ok, none at all really) respect for pitino off the court. I don’t think he’s that good at taking boys and making them into men because he hasn’t really figured out how to make himself into a man yet. It’s hard to teach something you haven’t learned for yourself.

    • bigbadcat
      12:02 pm December 29, 2014 Permalink

      Bluebloodtoo, I have to agree with you. I don’t have much problem with what he’s done ON the basketball floor. My problem is with the man not the coach. The man cheated on his wife and tried to force a woman to have an abortion. That over shadows any thing he has or will do on the floor. Pitino is a POS.

  20. david8577
    11:36 am December 29, 2014 Permalink

    If Norman Schwarzkopf was now fighting for ISIS, would we still honor him?

  21. WillySpankit
    12:27 pm December 29, 2014 Permalink

    Here’s how I look at it. Say you’re dating a great girl. Everything is amazing, you’re firmly convinced that she’s the one, but all of a sudden, she takes a job in some other state and you can’t move with her, so you have to break up with no hard feelings. Well, all of a sudden, her job doesn’t work out so she moves back, starts dating your mortal enemy and starts being a huge b***h to you. Luckily, after a couple of other lackluster relationships (one with someone nice but the spark isn’t necessarily there and the other with an abusive alcoholic), you’ve found on who is better, so you’re like “well, no hard feelings anymore, but good riddance nonetheless.” Even though you don’t really hate the ex anymore, you still don’t want your mortal enemy to succeed.

  22. catheaven
    12:44 pm December 29, 2014 Permalink

    I appreciate what Rick did for UK after the Sutton era. HOWEVER,at the end of every single season he had one foot out the door looking for greener pastures. It was nerve racking. Couldn ‘t enjoy the trny worrying about if our coach leaving rumors would start again. That was my initial bad vibes for him. After failing in the NBA, he comes back to the college world. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe the UNC coaching job was up for grabs. Their fan base was so not happy with Dean Smith’s replacement. So rather than go to UNC, he takes the job at our instate rival? Are you kidding? It was a slap in the face to UK. UNC would have been a much more prestigious position. After that dagger, he sits there pretending he’s still on the State of KY throne and publicly encourages UK not to hire John Calipari. We now know why. He was scared of him. Would make him look small and insignificant. Well it all came to roost, Rick. And, yea, I despise him for HIS actions.

  23. BigDaddyTR
    12:46 pm December 29, 2014 Permalink

    Yes, it was probably a business decision. However, when I think back on that time the thing that sticks in my mind is that Sports Illustrated article in which he made it sound like his wife was dying a slow death living in this tiny little Kentucky town and she had to move, and that is why he left UK. If it was business, just say “I enjoyed my time here, we had a great run, it is time for me to move on”. After saying that and coming back to coach just down the road….leaves me with less than happy feelings for Pitino.

  24. jdblue
    1:03 pm December 29, 2014 Permalink

    I love KSR and I like a lot of what you write BTI!! That being said, you are the one KSR writer that absolutely pisses me off at times (maybe that is intentional to get hits but i truly didn’t think KSR needed to do that kind of shenanigans to get hits, so I just blame YOU!!). And listening to you on SportsTalk on WHAS one time talking about UK-UL, I would swear you were Howie Lindsey or Mark Jurich. The reason we hate Pitino is that he thought he was such a hot deal that he was bigger than the UK program. He had his choice of programs and he accepted the job (verbally) to Michigan (Fact! I asked him that question myself) until Jurich upped the ante with more dough coupled with assurances from Meiners, Ron Carmichael et al that many UK fans would be ok with the “homecoming”. I think Pitino was so delusional and ate-up with himself that he thought a significant number of UK fans were actually “Pitino fans” and would switch to supporting UL. What an idiot he was. He had that small group of hangers-on suck-ups like Meiners and Carmichael that did switch but that was IT! After UK fans showed their outrage after the hiring was announced, I will NEVER forget his quote: “If you are my friend now, you always have been; if you’re not my friend now, you never were!” What an Asshole! Actually in fact, a TRUE friend is someone who will never do anything to hurt their friend…..and he turned his back and hurt the thousands of people who worshiped him and considered him their friend! If UL was the only good program available, then maybe….??? But he had a choice to go to several other GREAT places where he could have easily experienced major success (maybe even better than at UL given the shadows of UK). But he and his gigantic ego came to UL to show that “Pitino” is bigger than “the UK Basketball Program”. Well that prick found out that is not true. After UK fans worshiped him, bought his books, supported his charities, and help HIM achieve his success, he turned on US! Much has been made about what Rick did for UK program, but not enough about what the UK program meant for HIS success. And besides all that, he has proven time and time again the many other ways he is selfish and cares more about himself than anyone or anything else….Anyone who thinks his escapades with Karen Sypher were his only sexual indiscretions is an idiot. It is pretty common knowledge that Pitino was a “player” with lots of different women over a pretty extended period of time….Again his BIG ego got him in trouble as he thought he could keep getting away with crap like that until he finally chose to have relations with a truly crazy woman. He RUNS OFF players he finds out he can’t use while encouraging key players to come back that should be starting to earn millions in the NBA. He is a good coach, but he is a selfish egomaniac and a guy who would sell-out ANY “friend” to get a gain for himself. He has been exposed for the true person he is. BTI and “Jerry in Bardstown”, THAT is why we hate him so much! HE is the one who made his bed. Tubby left and wasn’t nearly as good of a coach as Rick. But Tubby will be welcomed back where Rick wont. Gee, I wonder why????

  25. Scout23
    3:58 pm December 29, 2014 Permalink

    So Coach K leaves Duke for the pros, fails, and comes back to North Carolina as UNC’s coach, and Duke fans accept this as a “business decision”? He condescended to the program and the fans from the moment he arrived. He dallied with leaving for several years before he actually did. He had little regard for former players OR Coach Hall. To this day, HIS players are more loyal to him than they are to UK. Snotty Joanne refused to deliver the children they conceived in Kentucky, IN Kentucky; couldn’t find a hospital or doctor good enough. The fact that he thought it was ok to take the UL job tells us what he understand about being UK’s coach…

  26. bballdoc
    6:33 pm December 29, 2014 Permalink

    Bill Keightley was loyal to Rick and that’s good enough for me.
    Haters gotta hate, but they are ugly as they do it.