Rick Pitino is officially back to coaching college basketball, and he is already angling for a way to coach against his son. Apparently we may see that happen as soon as next season, and the big WrestleMania match on Sunday night could determine where the game is played.
The Pitino family is apparently filled with big wrestling fans, and Rick proposed a friendly bet to Richard on Saturday. The new Iona coach bet his son, who coaches Minnesota, that that the Gophers will have to play at Iona next season is Brock Lesnar beats Drew McIntyre. Richard Pitino responded that he doesn’t want to root against Minnesota, who is a Gophers alum, so the terms of the bet were reversed. If Lesnar wins, Iona will play at Minnesota next season — or so the two Pitinos say.
The younger Pitino joked on Sunday that he made the bet with his dad because there’s “nothing else to do.”
Rick Pitino also shared a photo of his grandkids on Saturday showing that they were ready for WrestleMania 36.
Rick was named the head coach of Iona last month, while Richard has been coaching at Minnesota since 2013. WrestleMania was pre-recorded due to the coronavirus pandemic and split into a two-night event, and the first night already featured some entertaining moments. The Pitino family will have even more to watch for on Sunday.
A lot of people couldn’t help but laugh when the selection committee paired Richard Pitino’s Minnesota Golden Gophers with the Louisville Cardinals, the team that fired his father Rick over a recruiting scandal, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Richard Pitino, however, says he’s putting any other angle aside other than beating his opponent, and he’s not distracted by the off-court storyline.
“When you see Louisville pop up, you’re more about, ‘What am I going to say to the media? How am I going to lie to the media?'” Pitino said, via Adam Teicher of ESPN.
“From an emotions standpoint, when you play in the Big Ten, there are so many emotional games. I learned that,” the Minnesota coach added. “I’m only 36. That’s a young head coach. But you have to keep your emotions in check. I think I do a pretty decent job of that.
“When I’m watching film and I’m watching Louisville play, it’s about not really what the name on the front of the jersey is, but I’m watching a really good team in Louisville, a really well-prepared and well-coached team with a lot of good talent and how can I put myself in a position to help our team beat them?”
Pitino added that he’d only spoken to his father, who is currently coaching in Greece, once since Selection Sunday, and they discussed the status of Minnesota, not Louisville.
There is no love lost between Rick Pitino and Louisville, and Richard has defended his father. He may not say so, but he’d probably enjoy the victory over Louisville if he can get it.
We’ve heard a bit from former Louisville coach Rick Pitino since he was terminated by the Cardinals, but now his son Richard is speaking out about his past and future.
Richard Pitino, the head coach at Minnesota, defended his father, saying all wrongdoing at Louisville would have occurred without Rick Pitino’s knowledge and emphasizing that he’d like to coach again.
“I haven’t spoken much about it because we were still in our season, but I worked for my dad for three years. I know the expectations when you work for him,” Richard Pitino told Marcus Fuller of the Star Tribune. “Unfortunately, he had some people that let him down. The tough part of this recent thing is nobody knows how long this FBI stuff is going to take. You see these other universities and schools taking a wait and see approach with those implicated in it. So it’s hard for my dad’s situation because I don’t think anybody knows what the truth is. They would obviously have to believe him. I know 100 percent he had zero to do with any of that stuff. I know 100 percent he wouldn’t in a million years tell anyone to be involved in that stuff. If anyone was ever involved in a NCAA violation of some sort they were doing it without him knowing.
“So I don’t know if he’ll coach next season. It’s going to have to be somebody who believes in him. He’s one of the best coaches to ever coach the game. He wants to still coach. If I’m an AD that has an opening, I think I would be crazy not to consider him.”
Rick Pitino’s innocence is certainly a matter of dispute, to say the least. Given how Richard discussed college jobs, it seems unlikely that New Zealand is on Pitino’s radar at the moment.
Jeff Van Gundy shared a funny story on Wednesday about the time he had to take care of Rick Pitino’s son, Richard, whom he termed a “brat.”
Van Gundy was broadcasting the Spurs-Warriors game for ESPN when announcer Mike Breen talked about how Spurs coach Gregg Popovich spent time learning under Don Nelson in Golden State before becoming a head coach. Among other things, Nelson forced Pop to go golfing. That led to Van Gundy being asked to share a story about a time he was forced to do something for a great coach when he was an assistant.
Here’s the story:
Van Gundy says he was asked by Rick Pitino to take Richard, who is now the Minnesota Golden Gophers head coach, to a carnival. He was given $10 to let Richard play with, and the kid went through it quickly and expected Van Gundy to pitch in with some more funds.
“Richard Pitino, you were a brat that night!” Van Gundy joked.
Van Gundy thinks Pitino was around 7 or 8 years old at the time, which just puts everything into perspective considering Richard is now 34 and a head coach. Funny story.
Richard Pitino took out some frustration during Minnesota’s NIT game against Southern Miss on Tuesday with a little bit of a chair slam.
Pitino was upset over the referees’ decision to give Southern Miss the ball when it looked like the Golden Eagles knocked it out of bounds. He did not agree with the explanation and slammed his chair in response.
Minnesota was actually winning at the time 48-43. I don’t even want to know what he would have done had the team been losing at the time!
Oh yeah, and tell me Richard doesn’t look like Paul Finch:
GIF via @cjzero