During Boston College’s search for a new men’s head basketball coach, some BC fans have expressed a desire to see Rick Pitino return to the ACC as the Eagles’ leader. Over a 47-year coaching career, Pitino has been the head coach of several college, professional, and national basketball teams and would certainly bring a huge amount of experience to Boston College in a time when they need a steady hand to guide their rebuild.
Coach Rick Pitino is the current coach of the Iona Gaels, but has won national championships with both Louisville (vacated) and Kentucky. He’s been the head coach at Hawaii, Boston University, Providence College, the New York Knicks, the Boston Celtics, the Puerto Rico national team, and the Greece national team. His career college record is 655-276 (.704) and he’s made 22 NCAA tournament appearances, which includes 2 national championships (1 vacated) and 6 Final Four appearances (2 vacated).
His time at Louisville came to an end in 2017 when a pay-for-play scandal involving a recruit, Louisville’s staff, and Adidas came to light during a federal investigation. Allegedly, his staff and an Adidas executive conspired to pay a top recruit $100,000 to play at Louisville and then sign with Adidas after he turned pro. Pitino resigned in October of 2017 after being placed on administrative leave. He left college basketball to coach the Greek national team and then returned this past season to coach Iona.
Why he’d be interested:
Boston College and the ACC is a step-up from Iona and the MAAC. Despite the current condition of the program, there is a much higher ceiling for success at BC and the resources available to Pitino in Chestnut Hill would greatly outweigh those in New Rochelle, NY. Pitino also knows this conference well, having coached Louisville in their first 3 ACC seasons. But Pitino is 69-years-old and may not be looking to take on a long and sustained rebuild. Iona might be the perfect situation where he can just ride out his final years as a head basketball coach without much pressure.
Why it could work:
Pitino is an incredibly successful coach that has succeeded at many different collegiate levels, including two in New England. Despite his age, he could definitely set BC up for a great rebuild and put the Eagles on the path to success at a fast pace. Even if he has lost a step in the past 4 years since he left Louisville, just his sheer breadth of knowledge on what it takes to build a successful program would be invaluable to a Boston College program that has had very inconsistent leadership for years.
Why it could flop:
He’s old and his scandalous reputation isn’t great. Not to mention his personality rubs a lot of people the wrong way. Like I said earlier, the 69-year-old may just want to ride out his last few years as a head coach, which is not compatible with Boston College’s need for an intensive and committed rebuild. When you add in his dishonest recruiting history and abrasive personality, BC may be better off staying away.
How likely is this hire?
Very unlikely. While I do see a distant remote world in which BC makes this move, I think Pat Kraft is going to aim at a less controversial pick for his first big-time hire. Pitino does have a pretty good potential to succeed here, but his past won’t sit right with the BC administration when there are plenty of other viable candidates.