Minnesota fans: Richard Pitino hire 'interesting' - KMSP-TV

Gopher fans: Richard Pitino hire 'interesting'

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Now that the Golden Gophers have a new head coach to lead the men's basketball team, there are a variety of opinions on whether or not the University of Minnesota picked the right man for the job.

"Interesting" is a common response, but it's one of those thinly-veiled expressions that can range between sincere and sarcastic -- but this pick may be the three-pointer at the buzzer and a lot of reputations are hanging in the balance.

In Richard Pitino, the Gophers will get a legendary name in college basketball. The only problem is that the legend comes from his father, Louisville coach Rick Pitino.

"You're not hiring the father," said Dan Barreiro.

Among the chattering class on sports talk radio, there was reverence for the name contrasted against skepticism that a rookie head coach is ready for the Big Ten.

"I would argue that Richard Pitino has not earned his merit," Barreiro continued.

After nine days of courting an A-list roster of candidates and coming up empty, the U finally settled on a 30-year-old with one year of college coaching experience under his belt. He'll be about a decade older than his players, but he proved to be an even-keeled assistant coach under his father and Florida's Billy Donovan.

Last year, Richard Pitino was made head coach at Florida International in Miami, a program where sunshine was the main selling point. Yet, he led the team to its first winning season in 13 years.

In Minnesota, he'll clearly have to change his recruiting tactics; however, fans on campus seem willing to give him a shot.

The hope is that the younger Pitino will not only have his father's genetics, but also his track record. Director of Athletics Norwood Teague appears to be banking on the idea that youthful ambition can electrify the program and show that Richard Pitino is more than a name.

It's clear that the nine-day waiting period wasn't helpful for the program though. On Wednesday, the team lost one of its top recruits after Alvin Ellis, from Chicago, was released from his letter of intent. Ellis sent a tweet in the afternoon saying, "Good luck to the #Gopher team and all the fans in the future. Had to do what was best for me and my family."

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