One has to wonder whether Rick Pitino has been left out of the loop.

At the same time Tom Jurich is presumably pursuing membership for University of Louisville  with the Big 12 Conference, his basketball coach is hunched over a computer making blog posts. He usually updates his blog site on Thursdays but apparently felt an urgent need to insert himself into the issue, feeling the need to fight for Big East basketball.

“Do not sit down at a conference table with people already meeting with their divorce lawyer at the bargaining table,” he writes in reference to issues involving some members of the Big 12. He believes John Marinatto, the current Big East commissioner, is in the best position to rebuild the conference. Then he goes on to suggest that Temple be invited as a member in football and basketball and that Navy, Air Force and Army be invited as football members only.

Rick Pitino

He also states that university presidents should leave such decisions to the athletic department, deferring to the conference commissioner and their athletic directors on conference affiliations. This is a curious stance. Is he hinting that President James Ramsey, and not Jurich, is the individual leading the charge for Big 12 membership?

We prefer to think that Pitino is off base and out of touch with the situation. The alternative is that PItino is really upset. Is it possible he feels slighted about not being consulted? But if he had been included, would he also have been communicating with his buddies in the New York media?  If Pitino is so unhappy with the turn of events, he could be setting the stage for a possible showdown with his employers.

Pitino brings passion and excitement to U of L basketball, there’s no doubting that. He is, in fact, the face of the program. So it’s understandable that he would have opinions about the direction of the university. But the current challenge is about much more than basketball, it’s about raising the stature of the school and the entire athletic program.

The Big East is on life support because the governing structure of the Big East makes it difficult to move quickly and decisively, prompting Syracuse and Pittsburgh to go their own way. Marinatto has shown no ability to reconcile the differences between the football and basketball-only schools. If the Villanova debacle is an example of Marinatto’s leadership, we are not impressed.

Some of Pitino’s suggestions for new members have been bandied about for years. If he were serious about anything other than basketball, he would have been more creative and aggressive in seeking solutions before now. He comes off as overly protective of his turf, unable to recognize the potential benefits for the University of Louisville in a more prestigious conference.

Someone needs to get Pitino back in the loop. Any takers?

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By Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

11 thoughts on “Rick Pitino may be out of the loop”
  1. Hey, give Rick a break! We’re currently in the strongest basketball league in the country. And basketball is paying our sports bills, still. Why should any basketball coach want to jump into a lower-profile, if not entirely second-class, league? Should our bball players give up the limelight in hopes that the football guys might somehow once again achieve the competence that we momentarily had a few years ago? (And might see once again in a few more years?) All I’m saying is Rick will no doubt toe the school’s official line–but it won’t be good for the bball program or its recruiting, either.

    1. It won’t hurt recruiting. The Big 12 isn’t as good as the Big East but it isn’t 2nd class. Do you even know the teams that play bball in the Big 12? KU,UT,KSU,UM,Baylor, hell I can keep going, they all make the tournament every year. You really like Rick don’t you? Also, how in the world do you think bball pays the bills? You sir are wrong. Even averaging 50,000 per game at PJCS the football team produces as much as the bball team. I love bball, more than football, but we all know that football makes the money.

      1. Glad you like bball, too. But you mistake revenue for profit, I’m afraid. For a little factual background, I suggest to all readers that they enter ‘Louisville basketball revenue’ in Google Search and browse through the results. Specifically, look at this link, Frankly, I think ‘The Observer’s bias toward the gridiron has led numerous readers of this blog astray! “Punt for show–Dunk for dough” is my motto.

    2. Rick should be conducting himself like Coach Strong, conceding to TJ and Pres Ramsey to do what is best for the university as a whole, not just for hoops. His lips are looser than Karen Sypher’s blojse buttons right now.

  2. The Big East is on life support because it does not have the 2 to 3 national power programs that are required to give it legitimacy as a BCS conference. Changes are slow to come because there is no solution that will give the conference what it needs. No national power is going to come to the Big East. All the expansion teams mentioned will do nothing but leave the Big East in the same spot. The conference members know this and the ones with options are keeping them open, creating all of the uncertainty. Adding Temple. You have got to be kidding.

  3. I agree that UofL should go ahead and hire Brad Stephens. Pitino is out of the loop and he doesn’t want to make trips to Kansas and Texas rather than his hometown. You really can’t blame him for that. However, he is out for himself and basketball only. It is time for Pitino to retire or go coach the Brooklyn Nets. Go CARDS! I sure hope we can join the Big 12, man that would be fun.

  4. I hope Pitino is just laying a smoke screen to hid what Jurih is really up to. However, if he is serious, he will have to jump on the big 1 band-wagon or leave. Louisville can hire the Butler coach.

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