This is Amelia Rayno's third season on the Gophers men's basketball beat. She learned college basketball in North Carolina (Go Tar Heels!), where fanhood is not an option. In 2010, she joined the Star Tribune after graduating from Boston's Emerson College, which sadly had no exciting D-I college hoops to latch onto. Amelia has also worked on the sports desk at the Boston Globe and interned at the Detroit News.

  Follow Rayno on Twitter @AmeliaRayno

Tennessee fans pick Pitino as fourth favorite for new coach in poll

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers coaches, Gophers players Updated: April 18, 2014 - 5:17 PM

Minnesota coach Richard Pitino has publicly said he views Year One with the Gophers as a "great success."

Just how much did a 25-13 overall record, 8-10 campaign in the Big Ten and an NIT championship net the young coach?

Well, foremost he appears to have the support of his current fanbase, which is invaluable. Minnesota athletic director Norwood Teague hasn't offered up a raise or extension of any kind so far, but generally there seem to be good vibes all around.

But Minnesota eyes weren't the only ones he caught with his positive start. The 2013-14 effort was enough to land him in some highly respected company in regards to at least one national job search.

After ESPN's Jeff Goodman reported on Wednesday that Pitino was on the University of Tennessee's "short list" for replacing Cuonzo Martin, things have been pretty quiet in the Volunteers camp.

Teague reiterated on Wednesday that Pitino, who has a $1.5 million buyout, is happy in Minnesota and is not interested in Tennessee. 

But Tennessee basketball fans seem interested in him.

A poll conducted by the Knoxville News Sentinel reveals Pitino as the fourth favorite for a new coach among the nearly 5,000 who participated. He received nine percent of votes behind Wichita State's Gregg Marshall (35 percent), VCU's Shaka Smart (18) and Southern Miss' Donnie Tyndall (9 percent also).

See the full poll here.

Does that mean Pitino is more likely to become the head coach? Of course not. There is still no evidence that Pitino -- who is not speaking with the media -- is even interested (although it's tough to believe he wouldn't at least be intrigued if Tennessee was serious).

Yet it's something Gophers fans should grow to expect in the next few seasons as long as Pitino finds success. With just two years as a head coach under his belt, Pitino is still extremely young in his career. These days, though, after watching the Shaka Smarts and Brad Stevens of the world excel quickly and consistently, rising stars are very attractive. Pitino's "stock" could certainly go up in the next few years. But pitted against an annually tough Big Ten slate, it could also go down. 

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