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Hallelujah. The greatest development in St. John’s University’s basketball since the Lou Carnesecca days commenced on Monday when the Johnnies hired Rick Pitino to be their next head coach.
As a St. John’s alumnus, I almost cried when the news broke. I spent roughly $120,000 to go to St. John’s and I could care less about Pitino’s sketchy past.
In fact, Pitino can use some of my OutKick salary to lure recruits to St. John’s with sex parties. Do you know why? Everywhere Pitino goes, he wins, and my resume looks better if St. John’s makes a Final Four appearance.
The Johnnies have made the NCAA Tournament just four times since 2000 and we sucked when I attended the school from 2004-08.
In fact, our head coach at the time — Norm Roberts — coached both 2023 NCAA Tournament games for the Kansas Jayhawks when Bill Self went out with health issues.
St. John’s deserves Pitino. We’ve been underwhelming for far too long and college basketball is better off if a New York City team is a contender.
Excusing Rick Pitino’s questionable past
Pitino is a two-time national champion, winning in 1996 with the Kentucky Wildcats and 2013 with the Louisville Cardinals. He won three Big East tournaments: 2009 and 2012-13 with Louisville when they were part of the conference.
After being dishonorably discharged from Louisville, Pitino went to Iona University and took them to two NCAA Tournaments in three seasons from 2020-23. From a basketball perspective, Pitino can turn water into wine.
So he did some uncouth things while coaching Louisville. Who cares? I certainly don’t. The most important thing here is that my school is back in business. And I’d actually argue Pitino was ahead of his time.
He was ousted from Louisville in 2017 once federal prosecutors began investigating his “pay for play” strategy for luring recruits, which involved an Adidas executive.
A wise man once said, “If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying”. Also, things have changed in college athletics since then. What was 2017’s recruiting violations is now 2023’s NIL business deals.
Anyone bringing up Pitino’s age is a moron. Pitino is 70, which is old. But, the President is pretty much senile and 80 years old. His main challenger, Donald Trump, is 76.
If an 80-year-old can run the greatest country on Earth, then a 70-year-old can run a non-Power 5 college hoops program. This leads me to my next point: College hoops are better when the Big East is good.
College basketball’s golden era of the mid-’80s to mid-’90s coincides with the Big East’s relevance. The sport was more popular when Georgetown, UConn, Syracuse, and St. John’s were contenders.
As a St. John’s graduate, let me be clear about mine and my classmates’ feelings about Pitino’s sketchy off-the-court history: We don’t give a f***.
Today is a celebration for me and my fellow St. John’s alumni.
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Let’s see … convicted NCAA felon Bruce Pearl has a lifetime contract at Auburn. Convicted NCAA felon Kelvin Sampson is odds on favorite to Win It All in three weeks for Houston ….. and at UNC, 98% of their fan base think the Greatest Athletic Eligibility Scandal in NCAA History was “no big deal” because “Clean Dean” Smith devised and implemented it for 20+ years. ….. So “Tricky Ricky” Pitino should fit in just fine at SJU.