ESPN has reported that Rick Pitino will be the next coach at the University of Arizona after signing a 4 year deal worth $15 million to be what is ultimately considered as Lute Olson’s replacement as Russ Pennell, the outgoing interim coach who has not been asked to return for next season.
“Well, I sit before you here today letting you know that I am a basketball coach who likes to take on challenges,” Rick Pitino said in a press conference earlier today. “And this is a challenge that I’m interested in taking. Arizona has been Lute Olson’s team for a very long time and you saw the trouble they went through this year with him not being on the sidelines. I would like the opportunity to take this team back to the top.”
This definitely comes as a surprise as many thought that this whole “Pitino to Arizona” thing was just a rumor, but not so surprising to others as many have claimed to have seen Rick Pitino’s wife to have been “house shopping” around the Tucson area in late march.
This also comes as a surprise to others as many never thought Rick Pitino would be interested in coaching at Arizona considering they were the team that beat him to win the 1997 national championship over Kentucky. Many thought that he was happy at Louisville and would finish out his career there. When asked about his leaving Louisville, Pitino almost seemed regrettable.
“It’s definitely been great at Louisville and I wouldn’t trade my years here for anything,” Pitino said, distraught. “I’ve coached a lot of really good kids here and this place tremendous fans. The fans here are from all walks of life and just some of the best in the country. I’m going to miss it here.
When asked about a possible replacement after today’s press conference, Louisville Athletic Director Tom Jurich declined to comment that the university has anything in mind as far as possible replacements, but did have some kind words to say about Pitino.
“We certainly thought it would be a challenge for anyone to come in and replace Denny Crum,” Jurich said. “But when you bring in a guy like Rick Pitino, we didn’t miss a beat. We certainly wish him the best at Arizona and hope that he remains happy with his future endeavors.”
This is really hard news to swallow for Louisville fans and players as there are a lot of disappointed people out there.
“I wish he was still my coach. He was the guy who brought me here and I expected to play for him for four straight years but I guess sometimes people have to do what makes them happy,” said guard Edgar Sosa of Pitino. “I wish him the best at Arizona.”
It’s just one heartbreak after another for Cardinals fans right now. Three days after losing to Michigan State for the school’s second trip to the Final Four in five years, they have now lost their coach to a program that needs rebuilding.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot. April Fools.