Since everyone is weighing in on Rick Pitino and the newest U of L scandal, I thought I would pen a few quick thoughts.
It is very hard for someone who grew up during the “Kentucky’s Shame” era and its aftermath to feel pleased with the way things are ending for Rick Pitino. I am torn. On one hand, Pitino came in and breathed new life to our program after what was one of our darkest hours. He took a bunch of Kentucky boys and turned around a program that desperately needed it. Boys from Kentucky began to again strive to play for the Blue and White and the name on the front of the jersey meant something to people. I know his players at UK respected him and came to love him.
BUT, on the other hand, part of me is happy. In 2001, during my senior year in college, I (along with most of BBN) felt betrayed by someone that I revered. Pitino took over the helm of Louisville, the team I despise most next to Duke. In her article, Tina Cox said it best, “Had (Pitino) chosen to coach at any other school it would not have been a problem. I drew the line that day; I would never support (Pitino) again. I had never cheered for U of L and this made my dislike only deeper.” Like Tina, I would have been fine with ANY other school but that one. He knew better. Or maybe he didn’t.
I am saddened that his Hall of Fame career will now have an asterisk by it. People will question how he came to be the coach he is and was all of his success built on a lie? I am aggravated that because of his recent transgressions that those wonderful years after that illustrious SI cover will now have a shadow cast upon them. Pitino was once the savior of our “Shame” now he is the foundation of another program’s shame. It is hard to revel in his sorrows when so much history is there.