If Open, Richard Pitino’s Minnesota Hot Seat Would Be Highly Coveted

Photo: Brad Rempel – USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Golden Gophers basketball team started the 2020-21 season in such optimistic fashion that getting to this point once felt impossible. But Richard Pitino has used the easiest part of their schedule to completely flush his team’s season down the toilet.

Last night’s game vs Northwestern was a perfect microcosm of the season. The Gophers jumped out to a 17-3 lead, just to falter down the stretch and lose to the worst team in the Big Ten. It was the Wildcat’s first win in 13 games and it dropped Minnesota out of any lingering NCAA Tournament conversation.



Pitino’s Hot Seat

There isn’t anyone in print, TV or online standing up for Richard Pitino anymore. I’ve been on Twitter since last night’s game and if you see someone sticking up for Richard there, let me know.

How can you stick up for him? Pitino now hosts a Big Ten career record of 53-94 and he’s had a sub-.500 conference record in seven of those eight seasons. Richard isn’t seen as a genius basketball mind and most who cover recruiting would consider him lazy, compared to many of the great recruiters across the country.

The only thing saving Richard’s job at this point is a global pandemic and an athletic department that’d have to deal with the fallout of paying his $1.75 million buyout, while cutting non-revenue sports in the same 6-month span.

Minnesota best open job in nation?

Adding to the odds stacked against Richard Pitino, is the desirable nature of the Minnesota Gophers head coaching job. Yes, that’s right. If the Minnesota job were to open, it’s expected to be the most coveted in the country.

There aren’t expected to be any “blue blood” openings in three weeks, as the season comes to an end for most of college basketball. If Mark Coyle were to pull the plug on the Richard Pitino project at that time, Minnesota would be the most desirable destination in the country for hot coaches who are looking to move up the national ladder.

You don’t agree? Well, I’m not the one spewing such blasphemy. Brian Snow from 247Sports and Jeff Goodman from Stadium got on a podcast (The Field of 68) and said it this morning. I have the video evidence to prove it.



Recruiting hot bed in the Big Ten

If you look beyond the weather, it’s not that difficult to see why Minnesota would be a desirable job for just about anyone in the country.

First, Minnesota plays in the Big Ten which is the best men’s basketball conference in the nation. They play in big games all season vs the best teams. That’s something you can sell to recruits and make money on in the future, if you find success. But that’s only the start.

Life should be easier in Minnesota than it is in much of the Big Ten, because of the elite local talent that comes through the Twin Cities high schools. Nobody can swing and miss on that homegrown talent as much as Richard Pitino has. It’s impossible and, like Brian Snow says in the video above, you only have to grab a few of the second-tiered kids available to get the talent necessary.

Here are all of the Minnesota high school stars to come through the 247Sports recruiting rankings since 2017. Pitino has grabbed just 3 of the 31 kids to come through the local high school ranks over the last four recruiting classes. That’s 10 stars of a possible 110 availabe. All three commits were in 2018 (Oturu, Kaslcheur and Omersa).


Year5-Star4-Star3-StarTotal PlayersTotal StarsCommitted PlayersCommitted Stars
202014383000
201912472500
2018116827310
201704482800
Total3111731110310

Eric Stack | Minnesota Sports Fan