It would make for a good story if interim coach Russ Pennell’s Arizona Wildcats upset Rick Pitino’s Louisville Cardinals, coached by the man rumored to be at the top of Arizona’s coaching wish list.
But in my view you can scratch off Pitino. It doesn’t make sense. He makes too much money at Louisville, the facilities are better there and he’s built the program into the No. 1 overall seed.
It’s news to Pitino that he’s on any list.
“I’m glad that I’m not living on the West Coast because I haven’t heard any of that,” he said. “I heard a little bit more about Boston University wanting me back where I started, but I’m hoping they settle for my son.”
Is there some interest in Arizona?
“I wouldn’t answer any question about any other job because it would be disrespectful to the University of Louisville,” he said. “Any time you hear a player stand up here and say, ‘I’m not going pro; I’m coming back,’ he’s gone. Any time a coach says he’s not interested in a job, he’s dead interested in a job. . . . There is no truth.”
I believe him. And I don’t believe the rumors of Michigan State’s Tom Izzo going to Arizona. Recently, he’s been linked with the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves. “I’m still here,” Izzo said.
What does Izzo think of the Arizona job?
“Arizona has been a perennial program for a long time,” Izzo said. “It’s also getting harder out there, too, because UCLA, USC have gotten better. So has Washington.”
Meanwhile, the reported apparent dismissal of Kentucky coach Billy Gillespie could throw a curveball into the entire UA hiring process if Jim Livengood has one of their potential candidates on the radar.
Kentucky’s program trumps Arizona’s program.
Still, it’s my feeling while everyone in Rumorville has the Pitinos and Izzos (or some big name like that) going to Arizona, Livengood is sitting there gleefully looking at someone else – enjoying the smoke screen – with no one really knowing who the next guy at Arizona will be.