Rick Pitino’s Massive Coaching Tree Adds Another Branch As Richard Becomes FIU’s Head Coach

Posted by EJacoby on April 17th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter.

Florida International has never made any meaningful noise on the basketball court (one NCAA Tournament appearance in school history), yet the Golden Panthers continue to create plenty of buzz off of it. Over the weekend it was announced that Richard Pitino, the 29-year-old son of famed Louisville coach Rick Pitino, would be taking over as head coach at FIU. Richard Pitino was a Louisville assistant and replaces the recently fired Isiah Thomas, who of course is one of the NBA’s all-time great players as well as a former head coach and executive at the highest level in the NBA. Thomas’ buzzworthy hire did not equate to any success in three years with the program (26-65 record) so FIU will now give it a second shot with another big name. Pitino immediately becomes one of the youngest head coaches in Division I, taking up after his legendary father who got his start at Boston University at just 26 years old. Richard is just one of many Pitino assistants that have moved on to become head coaches, as we take a look at how widespread and successful the Rick Pitino coaching tree has become over the years.

Richard Pitino (Left) Looks to Continue Blossoming His Father's Enormous Coaching Tree (USA Today)

We start all the way back in 1985 with Pitino’s head coaching gig at Providence, the first of three schools he would eventually take to a Final Four. The 1987 Friars that advanced to the Final Four included three young assistants by the names of Stu Jackson, Jeff Van Gundy, and Herb Sendek. Jackson went on to become a head coach at Wisconsin and later for the New York Knicks, and he is now the Vice President of Basketball Operations for the NBA, one of the highest executive positions in the sport. Van Gundy, of course, also went on to become an NBA guy, coaching both the New York Knicks and Houston Rockets. Sendek, meanwhile, has become a longtime college coach with NC State and Arizona State, where he remains today. Sendek himself has helped groom some tremendous head coaches like Thad Matta, John Groce, Chris Mack, and Sean Miller. In addition to all of the coaches that sprung from the Providence years, Pitino also coached Billy Donovan, the starting point guard for the Friars at the time. Donovan has since gone on to win two National Championships for Florida with assistants-turned-coaches Anthony Grant and Shaka Smart, among others. Pitino’s three years at Providence produced an extensive history of coaching talent, and we are just getting started.

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RTC Conference Primers: #27 – Big Sky Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 7th, 2011

Jonathan Reed of Big Sky Basketball  is the RTC correspondent for the Big Sky conference. You can find him on Twitter at @bigskybball.

Readers’ Take

Top Storylines

  • The Return of Damian Lillard – Three years ago, Lillard was the Big Sky Freshman of the Year. Two years ago, he was the Big Sky Player of the Year. Last year, he was the Preseason Player of the Year and his team, Weber State, was the pick to win the Conference. Then, he broke his foot in the ninth game of the year, and the Wildcats finished third. Due to some smart scheduling tactics, Lillard was granted a medical redshirt and will be a junior this season. He says he is one hundred percent healthy, and if that is true, Weber State is the easy favorite to win the Big Sky.

Weber State's Damian Lillard Is The Toast of the Big Sky. (AP Photo/Michael Dinneen)

  • Beginning of the Jim Hayford Era For Eastern Washington – Out is Kirk Earlywine, who put together four bad seasons in Cheney, finishing with a 42-78 record. In is Jim Hayford, who had been extremely successful at Division III Whitworth University, where he had a 217-57 record. Earlywine did not leave the cupboard bare (even with would-be top returner Glen Dean transferring to Utah), and a top three finish is possible for the Eagles. Hayford has also showed early recruiting prowess, getting Collin Chiverton to keep his commitment to EWU.
  • How Does Northern Colorado Build on Momentum? – 2007 was Northern Colorado’s first season in the Big Sky, and they finished a sparkling 4-24 (with a 2-14 conference record). Last season, BJ Hill continued the impressive turnaround begun by previous head coach Tad Boyle (now with Colorado), leading the Bears to their first ever NCAA Tournament berth, where they lost to San Diego State. However, nobody in the conference was hit harder than UNC by graduation, most notably losing Player of the Year Devon Beitzel. Hill brought in a solid recruiting class, and he will need guys to step up early.  The Bears could be picked as low as seventh in the conference this year, but anything in the top five would keep the program’s momentum going strong.
  • Wide Open Race in the MiddleWeber State and Montana are the prohibitive favorites to win the Conference, but the race really opens up after those two. If you ask five different people who will finish third in the Big Sky, you will get five different answers. That will add up to a lot of competitive ballgames, as the balance in the conference is strong. Anyone is capable of beating anyone else on a given night.

Predicted Order of Finish

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Morning Five: 05.18.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on May 18th, 2011

  1. Coaches, administrators, and fans have been critical of unscrupulous agents for a long time, but were limited in their ability to get back at them. That group may now have a legal method to do so in the state of Texas as the state legislature has sent a bill to Governor Rick Perry proposing that agents and their runners could be charged with a felony and face up to 10 years in prison if their actions lead a college athlete to lose his or her eligibility. The details on how this law would work are not clear and we cannot even imagine how ridiculous these cases could get (many top agents are also lawyers) if they ever go to trial, but it’s certainly worth tracking in the coming months.
  2. It is always unusual to see a coach who once worked on a big stage take a step (or two) down to continue coaching at a lower level. In the case of Jim O’Brien the cause is a little more clear. As many of you may remember, O’Brien, who had previously coached at Ohio State and Boston College, was forced to leave the former after the school was accused of multiple NCAA violations and was hit with severe sanctions including having their 1999 Final Four run vacated. In addition, O’Brien also received a two-year show-cause penalty (he pocketed $2.4 million from OSU after a judge ruled that he had been wrongfully terminated, however). O’Brien will be returning to Boston to coach at Division III Emerson College. We doubt that O’Brien will ever get back to being a head coach at the Division I level, but he is one of the few coaches that that has been hit with a show-cause penalty that has received a head coaching job at the NCAA level with Morgan State’s Todd Bozeman still being the only one who got a Division I job. Bruce Pearl might want to keep that in mind going forward.
  3. On Thursday a segment on NBC’s Today Show will air (estimated at 7:45 AM ET) in which a (former?) Wake Forest student will speak about an alleged sexual assault involving members of the Wake Forest basketball team that occurred hours after the team was eliminated in the first round of the 2009 NCAA Tournament. We are not sure if she will name names on-air, but luckily their attorney already has: Mike Grace stated that former Demon Deacons Jeff Teague and Gary Clark were accused on that fateful night in Miami, but both players were completely exonerated by both the Miami-Dade County police and the Wake Forest code of conduct hearing council.  It’ll be interesting to see how this student spins the interview in light of this new information on Thursday morning.  Quick sidenote: leave it to Andy Katz (link above) to drop recruiting news into a story about sexual assault — another former Wake Forest player accused of assualt, Tony Woods, is reportedly close to transferring to Kentucky.
  4. The schedule for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, which has grown in popularity in recent years, was released yesterday. Looking through the schedule we have to say that it’s underwhelming. Outside of the Duke-Ohio State and UNC-Wisconsin games few of the games look particularly interesting. We’re sure that ESPN will find a way to hype it up as being a series of great games, but don’t fall for it. There are three other games that might be worth watching (Miami-Purdue, Illinois-Maryland, and FSU-Michigan State), but other than that most of the games are close to unwatchable. This could be because the ACC is experiencing a bit of a dry spell, but the organizers need to find a way to keep this fresh (switching conference match-ups?) or these type of events will lose the public’s interest very quickly.
  5. Doug Gottlieb takes a look at some of next year’s impact transfers (ESPN Insider required) and we have to say it is a pretty impressive group. Maybe we are forgetting how good prior transfer classes were or overrating the current crop (most of these guys left their prior programs for a reason), but this seems like an exceptionally talented group. Keep this group in mind when you are trying to figure out what impact the newcomers will have on college basketball next season instead of just focusing on the freshmen.
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05.04.08 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on May 4th, 2008

Weekend kibbles n’ bits…

  • Bruce Pearl booted UT guard Ramar Smith and forward Duke Crews off the team, reportedly for failing drug tests.
  • New Hoosier head man Tom Crean refused to allow Armon Bassett and Jamarcus Ellis back onto the team, while kicking DeAndre Thomas off the squad as well. This all occurred one day after the bizarre transfer of Eli Holman, leaving Indiana with only seven scholarship players for 2008-09.
  • Missisippi State’s Ben Hansbrough (little bro of Psycho-T) will transfer to Notre Dame next year, ostensibly because he didn’t like the MSU offense.
  • Speaking of impact transfers, Georgetown’s Vernon Macklin will end up at Florida.
  • Ohio State’s Kosta Koufos is one-and-done – he signed with an agent.
  • Coaching News – Bob Huggins got a raise ($1.5M) and an 11-year extension at WVU – guess he impressed them this year, eh? Their former coach, John Beilein, made the first payment on the $1.5M he owes WVU for breaking his contract last year when he left for Michigan. In a similar vein, former Ohio St. coach Jim O’Brien was paid $2.74M in back pay for being fired by the university even though he admitted to cheating. And Wazzu’s Tony Bennett got an extension through 2015 and a $200K raise, totaling his annual compensation to $1M per year (but no increase in his buyout clause).
  • Next year’s Thanksgiving-week Old Spice Classic will include Tennessee, Michigan St., Gonzaga, Maryland, Georgetown, Oklahoma St., Siena and Wichita St. In other words, loaded.
  • Here are some early entry analyses from Andy Katz and Jeff Goodman.
  • Dana O’Neil writes a compelling article on the uncertainty that programs must endure during the next six weeks of “testing the waters.
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Jim O’Brien Math

Posted by rtmsf on September 20th, 2007

We didn’t go to b-school, but we did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.  While there we ran into our old friend Jim O’Brien, formerly the head coach at Ohio State and currently sitting on his ass at home banned from the NCAA until 2009 due to recruiting violations during his tenure in Columbus.

He informed us that today the Franklin County (Ohio) Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s decision requiring THE Ohio State University to pay O’Brien over $2.4M in back-pay stemming from his termination as the head coach there in June 2004.  This case derives from a situation involving a Serbian player in 1998:

Ohio State University and O’Brien both had appealed the ruling by the Ohio Court of Claims last year. Judge Joseph T. Clark ruled in August that although O’Brien acted improperly, he was fired without cause in a breach-of-contract lawsuit.  The Court of Claims said it was not a material breach of O’Brien’s contract when he gave $6,000 to the mother of Alexander Radojevic, a 7-foot-3-inch Serbian basketball recruit in 1998, and for concealing the payment for five years.

If any AD presiding over a college program read this today, it probably sent a quick debilitating shudder down his spine.  Not.  A.  Material.  Breach.  Of.  Contract.  Wow. 

 Jim O’Brien

What this essentially means is that a coach of a sports program (any sports program!) can flagrantly violate the rules of amateurism by providing at least one sizable loan to a recruit or player, and he will not be in material breach of his contract for doing so.  In other words, he cannot be fired for doing this, which provides an even greater incentive to cheat than already existed.  Sure, the NCAA could get involved, but in its typically arbitrary and capricious manner, a coach is just as likely to get a slap on the wrist as he is to get suspended.   

Now, keep in mind this decision by the Ohio court isn’t binding on other jurisdictions outside of that state.  BUT, it is damn persuasive (assuming the Ohio Supreme Court upholds it), and courts around the country could cite this case as authoritative justification to do the same elsewhere.  ADs have a difficult enough job keeping an eye on their coaches and expecting them to do the right thing.  With the knowledge that the O’Briens of the world get one “free pass”  on a recruit or player, their jobs just got precipitously tougher.

Oh, and as for the O’Brien math:    

roi present value

Plug $2,400,000 into the numerator, and $6000 into the denominator, and see what you get… (hint: he’ll be fine until 2009)

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05.10.07 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on May 10th, 2007

  • Slow week in college hoops news, so let’s all review recruiting lists for fun!  USA Today (2007), Scout (2008) and Rivals (2008) all have new top 100s out this week (login required for Scout and Rivals). 
  • As everyone suspected, Greg Oden is actually 33 years old. 
  • Jim O’Brien is eligible to destroy your team’s program in 2009 now rather than 2011.
  • We’ve lost patience with this.  ESPN’s most overrated and underrated programs of the last decade are now out.  It seems that ESPN was actually asking/answering two different questions (overrated isn’t the same as underachieving, and vice versa, but we digress), but if we define the rating system as performing above or below your talent level, no question that Cincinnati is a major omission from the overrated list, and likewise Utah from the underrated list.    
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