Even before the epic collapse to Maryland on Wednesday evening, Richard Pitino was on the hot seat. On this very blog, as well as anywhere else people are talking Gopher hoops online, his tenure and the future of the program has been
The reasons for moving on and finding a new coach to lead the program are gaining validity. This is not where we are going to discuss them. But part of the conversation eventually comes to belief that Mark Coyle is potentially ready to hire “his” coach. And currently there is a lot of faith in the Gopher’s Athletic Director to make an elite hire.
Within his first year on the job he quickly moved to end the Tracy Claeys era and moved like a ninja to land PJ Fleck. That move, particularly in the latter half of this past season, has been universally applauded by Gopher football fans. Bob Motzko is getting men’s hockey back on track. Lindsay Whalen has been an incredibly popular hire. And Jamie Trachsel was an important hire for softball after Jessica Allister left for Stanford.
In addition to his specific hires, Coyle has been at other institutions where basketball was vital to the success of their respective athletic departments. He was hired away from Syracuse and he spent several years as an associate AD at Kentucky. This guy knows what an elite basketball program looks like and what it takes to run one.
The theory is that we absolutely should trust Coyle to make the next basketball hire. He has acted swift, he has made hires with extreme confidence and he knows what a big time basketball program looks like.
We should trust Coyle to decide who should be leading the program.
But the flip side to this is...what if Coyle’s decision is to retain Richard Pitino? If we are to trust Coyle’s decision as to who should be running this program, what if he wants to stay the course?
I believe there are valid points on both sides of the discussion surrounding the future employment status of Richard Pitino. Poor attendance, weak recruiting record and an awful Big Ten win % are all valid. Looking at this season as a rebuilding year after losing the likes of Amir Coffey and Jordan Murphy are more than excuses, those are legitimate challenges to overcome in a very difficult conference. Next year has the chance to be a very good team. But the coming weeks are going to be interesting for Coyle. He will certainly have a decision to make about the leadership and direction of the Gopher program.
Are we going to trust him with that decision, even if it isn’t the decision we would have made?