Will Louisville head coach Rick Pitino be the next head coach of St. John's basketball? The thought that the Hall of Famer would leave powerhouse Louisville for the middling Red Storm seems ludicrous, but New York Daily News writer Roger Rubin believes that it is a real possibility:
It’s the same reaction most have to the idea of getting Pitino, who has all those things at Louisville and reportedly makes nearly $6 million annually. But St. John’s place in the world is a little different now. It has been to the NCAA Tournament two of the past five years, spent stretches in the national rankings.
“St. John’s in this new Big East could be elite, an NCAA Tournament team every season,” one administration source said. “This program can compete for the conference championship every year and create buzz in the city”
The idea of Pitino fronting the Johnnies at Madison Square Garden is a doozy. It can be everything the source said and more. Pitino has never been bashful about his love of New York — he grew up here, coached the Knicks, won Big East titles.
Pitino is a native New Yorker, and he does have ties to the Big East from Louisville's time in the conference and his brief stint at Providence. Is there another reason that he would consider an unprecedented move like this? Rubin dug up one, although it seems extremely tenuous:
A source told the Daily News Saturday that Vitaminwater mogul Mike Repole — a passionate Johnnies fan — would support the administration along several different avenues it might go. That sounds like he would go for the icon or the up-and-comer — but also the big score. The source said Repole and Pitino know each other from their mutual interest in thoroughbred horse racing. That probably wouldn’t hurt either.
I'm sure St. John's fans will get excited thinking about this possibility, but it is probably best if they set their sights on a more realistic candidate, like former Louisville assistant Steve Masiello. Pitino leaving Louisville for St. John's would be unfathomable.