If you told Louisville fans they get five and a half more seasons with Rick Pitino, they'd of course take it. And they'd savor every game of it, because coaches like Pitino are throwbacks, rarities. He's equal parts competent as a motivator and an X-and-O man. Respected by many, Pitino, it can be argued, is one of the 20 greatest coaches in college basketball history.
At his press conference today, prior to U of L's Big East opener against Georgetown, Pitino offered where he sees himself in just over five years -- retired.
Card Chronicle's Mike Rutherford tweeted out the Pitino quote this afternoon that simply says: "My contract runs until 2017 and I'm not coaching past that."
CBSSports.com Louisville Rapid Reporter Evan Hilbert followed with more context:
Coach Rick Pitino said earlier this season that he could coach until he was 90. He has since softened his stance. “When you're 59, you're realistic that you don't have a lot of years left,” Pitino said. “My contract runs out in 2017 – I'm not coaching anymore after that.”We've got a long way to go until then. There could very well be Final Fours and a national title awaiting Pitino from now until then. What I do know: I never trust what coaches say, 100 percent. At 64, Pitino could feel as good and as healthy as he did when he was 45. And if in January of 2016, he sees a top-five recruiting class coming in, who's to say he doesn't extend his contract another three years? Louisville would be more than willing if the Cards were in such a position.
So we'll see. After all, it's more than five years from now. Remember another recent, famous, aborted five-year promise? We know how that turned out.
It's nice that Pitino has some perspective, is thinking about his family and realizes his mortality. But just because he says he's done in 2017 doesn't mean that's the case. It wouldn't surprise me in the least to find Pitino coaching at 65 years old. No one knows who they'll be in five years, let alone how they'll feel. Walking away from the game is something coaches and players struggle with more than almost anything else. Pitino can be wrong about this. Louisville fans are already wishing for it.
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