After 8 seasons, a 141-123 record overall (54-96 B1G), 1 NIT title, and 1 NCAA Tournament win, Minnesota “parted ways” with Richard Pitino Monday night. In typical Mark Coyle fashion, the coach was “encouraged” to seek other employment so everyone could save face and the Gophers could save money on a buyout (y’all might want to take notes on how to do this shit, Indiana) thanks to offsetting language in his contract that was put into the 2019 extension. Having been selected as the new coach at New Mexico, Pitino’s buyout at Minnesota should be $0, but there might be some other weird provisions that’d lead to there being a small one. Either way, this works out well for everyone.
Pitino’s time at Minnesota was rather meh. There were plenty of great moments, including 5 top-10 upsets and an absolute beatdown of wisconsin in the last sporting event I went to before COVID made everything suck. But a .360 B1G record just isn’t going to get things done. His biggest flaw is roster management, with only the 2016-17 team being a full, balanced group. But that team had no depth, with only 7 players getting more than 10 minutes a game and everything completely falling apart when Akeem Springs got hurt in the B1G Tournament win over Michigan State. The 2018-19 team would have been his best, if not for the NCAA denying the transfer waiver for Marcus Carr for reasons that appear to be “Fuck Minnesota and fuck that kid.” In the end, he just couldn’t ever piece everything together and the B1G is a miserable place to learn how to construct a full team. And because everyone else is doing it, we’re just going to gloss right over the Reggie Lynch being on the roster thingey.
By all accounts, Pitino is a mostly decent guy who’s really funny (his self-deprecation is outstanding) and an outstanding parent. Anyone who makes Rick Pitino comparisons to him is missing the mark and never really took a closer look or gave him a fair shake. I’m still pretty confident that he’ll be a very good basketball coach in the future, but the Gophers just gave him some experience in failing. It’s time for Mark Coyle to do his thing again and hire a good coach. His record of finding replacement for Mens sports at Minnesota has been very good so far, with P.J. Fleck and Hockey coach Bob Motzko being hits, while...you know, I think I’m going to avoid saying anything negative about Wrestling coach Brandon Eggum because he’s a wrestler.