Does Richard Pitino want to stay in Minnesota a long time?
On the most superficial level, all signs point to yes. The Gophers coach, barreling toward his second season with the university, has said all the right things and seems to genuinely like his new job and life in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
That contentment will likely be tested whenever his dad, Louisville coach Rick Pitino, decides to step down.
Hamilton pointed out that Rick Pitino will surely be counseled in the matter of his heir. It's hard to believe pop wouldn't nod toward his son, who directed Florida International to its first winning season in more than a decade before bringing Minnesota an NIT championship last year.
Hamilton also named Mick Cronin (Cincinnati), Chris Mack (Xavier) and Shaka Smart (VCU) as potential top choices.
A call from Louisville is tough to ignore. Accepting the torch at a place his father has had so much success is also a lot of pressure.
Is Kid Pitino itching to leave Minnesota? I honestly don't think so. Should the younger Pitino find himself in the situation where he needs to make that choice, he could decide he'd rather remain with the Gophers and build his own legacy, rather than taking over his father's. Or he could find that Louisville is the best place to move forward.
Ultimately, of course, this kind of guessing game is useless. Rick Pitino said yesterday he believes he can continue to coach "for a long time," so the replacement search could be well down the road. Who knows -- young Richard could already be at another coaching destination then. Or the circumstances at Minnesota could be quite different.
As long as Richard Pitino stays at Minnesota and keeps the Gophers moving on an upward trend, however, the speculation will probably continue.