Richard Pitino has done a fine job in two seasons as head coach of the Minnesota Golden Gophers but if you ask his Hall-of-Fame father, Rick, he almost left for another position.
Speaking to Jim Rome on “The Jim Rome Show,” as reported by Kami Mattioli of the Sporting News, the elder Pitino said that his son was actually quite close to accepting the head coach’s job at Alabama.
“I met with the Alabama athletic director in talking about different guys for that job and Richard’s name came up,” Rick told Rome.
“Richard was seriously considering making that move. But he called me up and said ‘You know, Dad, Alabama is a great job but I don’t deserve it.’ You know what, for a 32-year-old, that’s about as proud as I can be as a dad. He was just so humble – he said ‘I haven’t done enough to warrant any move, or even consider any move. He said we’ve got a tough rebuilding job here at Minnesota and I’m going to get it done.’”
This is certainly interesting news, as Alabama eventually went with former Dallas Mavericks and Brooklyn Nets coach Avery Johnson.
However, it should also be noted that ESPN reported that Alabama saw the younger Pitino as more of a “fallback” candidate if Gregg Marshall could not be lured away from Wichita State, and 247Sports said that Pitino was never on Alabama’s list to begin with.
Either way, people are now going to wonder what could have been if Johnson struggles in Tuscaloosa. Alabama has not played in the NCAA tournament since 2012, and the team lost to Creighton in the Round of 64 that year. and the Crimson Tide have not made significant progress in the big dance since current N.C. State head coach Mark Gottfried guided a squad to the Elite Eight back in 2004.
The 32-year-old Pitino, on the other hand, has gone 43-28 (14-22 Big Ten) and won an NIT championship in two years at Minnesota. He also went 18-14 (11-9 Sun Belt) in one season manning the sidelines for Florida International and spent time at Louisville and Florida as an assistant.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports