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On Pitino, Louisville and the ‘coach-in-waiting’

Rick Pitino

Louisville coach Rick Pitino shouts instructions to his team during an NCAA college basketball game against San Francisco in Louisville, Ky., Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2010. No. 24 Louisville, unbeaten through seven starts, won 61-35. (AP Photo/Garry Jones)


Richard Pitino’s not officially on his father’s staff at Louisville just yet. Nor is he the “coach-in-waiting” whenever Rick Pitino retires or leaves the job.

The younger Pitino, who was on the Cardinals’ staff from 2007 to 2009, but spent the past two years at Florida, is close to re-joining his dad, though things were “far from official” last week, according to C.L. Brown of the Louisville Courier-Journal. It’ll likely happen (Pitino didn’t leave Florida for just any job).

One of the delays isn’t because they’re working out a deal for Pitino to be the “coach-in-waiting” though.

“That’s not the way I operate,” Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich told the paper. “I would never put that kind of pressure on him (Richard), and I don’t think Rick would want that kind of pressure on him.”

The speculation stemmed from comments Florida coach Billy Donovan during a recent press conference to introduce his new assistants, John Pelphrey and Norm Roberts. Donovan didn’t say Pitino should be the coach in waiting, but that Pitino, despite his youth, is “very, very close to being a head coach.”

From Kevin Brockway at the Gainesville Sun:

Donovan said Pitino interviewed last season for the head coaching job at Iona. Pitino was a finalist for the head coaching job at Florida Gulf Coast University and had some interest from Missouri State before deciding to return to Louisville last week.

“I was a head coach at 27, 28 years old,” Donovan said. “I think it today’s day and age people say, wow, that’s really young. Richard has really done it the right way. He started out as an assistant high school basketball coach while he was in college, he was a graduate assistant at Providence College. He worked as an assistant at Northeastern and at Duquense. He worked his way up. He just wasn’t handed the Louisville job or the Florida job.”

Sounds like an endorsement to me. But for the Louisville job? Maybe not, which would be a good thing.

Following Pitino at Louisville won’t be an easy. It’s a marquee job at the most profitable program in the nation. That’s a tall order for any coach, let alone the son of a famous coach who’s never had a head coaching job.

Unless Richard Pitino is the second coming of Roy Williams -- or Rick Pitino -- that’s just setting him up for failure. And what dad wants that for his son?

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.