ESPN‘s Andy Katz is reporting that a deal between the Minnesota Golden Gophers and Richard Pitino is all but set in stone. According to Katz’s sources, Minnesota had another interview lined up, but cancelled it because the Golden Gophers had already found their coach. The two sides met Tuesday and according to CBSSports‘ John Goodman, have verbally agreed to a deal:
Richard Pitino has reached a verbal agreement to become the next coach at Minnesota, sources told CBSSports — cbssports.com/collegebasketb…
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanCBS) April 3, 2013
Pitino is the son of active coaching legend, Rick Pitino. The younger Pitino has spent years as a high-level assistant under his father as well as Billy Donovan. While only 30 years-old, however, Pitino does have a whole whopping one year as head coaching experience with the Florida International Golden Panthers.
In one season as the main man in charge, Pitino was only a game away from making the big dance and turned around a program in turmoil. Before he took over, FIU was led by the ghost of Isiah Thomas — who did everything in his power to do the only thing he knew, run the program to the ground.
Many are going to question Minnesota’s decision to hire such a young man. People are going to presume Pitino was hired because of his father, however, I have a new theory on the Golden Gophers. They don’t just want a year or two of success, but want to build a brand and an image.
I, as many others, was shocked when Tubby Smith was let go after he gave them their first NCAA Tournament win since 1990. Now, with the hiring of Pitino, the firing might have been more of a long term move more than one over disgust.
If I am a Minnesota fan I am happy, but need to stay tempered. Pitino is young and only going to be in his second year as a head coach. Give him time to rebuild, recruit and change the culture in Minnesota and I think you will all be happy.
Well, until he succeeds and then leaves you for a better program.
Joe is a Senior Writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @JosephNardone