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Wondrous Stories: The Curse of Pitino

How's about this for a theory:  Everywhere Rick Pitino goes, he leaves behind wreckage and ruin.  Well, it's a theory that Sports Gone South is trying  to make the case for.

So let's look at the evidence, according to this author:  Pitino comes here succeeds spectacularly, leaves, and the program goes to ruin.  Pitino goes to Boston, leaves, and the program is in ruins.  Now he has the unmitigated audacity to ease right down I-64 and join Kentucky's biggest rival, which SGS equates to Coach K leaving Duke to take over North Carolina (not the worst analogy I have ever heard, by the way).

They guy has a fun take, but I am loathe to give Pitino that much credit.  He has proven himself a fine coach at the college level, and no amount of loathing or bitter recriminations by Kentucky fans will change that fact.  He has yet to lay much of a glove on UK since joining Louisville, and certainly hasn't dominated us.  But that aside, you can't really say he hasn't had success and seems poised for more.  But I have to admit, I got a big smile out of SGS referring to Pitino as a "soulless mercenary."  I kind of like that characterization.

Strangely enough, more pixels are spilled about Pitino's former UK relationship lately than about serious consideration of our new coach, which I suppose isn't surprising.  Pitino is a notorious media darling and he works them like a master.  That is a huge benefit to Louisville, and that's why such a buzz has started about a team that played well at the end of last year, but spent most of the first part in doldrums of mediocrity, or even whatever is just below that (futility?), and as I recall that many Louisville fans were calling quite loudly for Pitino's head.  Very many.

Well, what of that?  Bygones, I suppose.  Kentucky fans get lots of heat for their demanding nature -- this Columbia Tribune article is only the latest example of how Kentucky fans get questioned and Louisville's don't.  And it ties right into SGS's theory, in a way -- basically implying that Gillispie is not qualified to hold the job he has, and certainly not to deal with the fans.  More wreckage of a sort, seeing as nobody ever seems to remember the Louisville fan outrage of earlier this year, and apparently only Pitino is the only coach not named Billy Donovan who is capable of dealing with UK fans.

Turning to a more satisfying consequence of suffering the Pitino experience at UK, it seems that Billy Donovan is truly waiting only for the right situation to jump to the NBA.  Oh, I am sure he is happy at Florida, but there seems to be little doubt that he desires to follow his mentor into the Association, regardless of the constant protestations of the Gator faithful to the contrary.  How soon they forget the constant hand-wringing around Lexington every April which eventually resulted in the beginning of our long absence from the last weekend of basketball.  Take it from those who know how this works first-hand, Gator fans -- be afraid -- be very afraid.