A report in the Las Vegas Review-Journal this weekend said that the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, a one-time basketball powerhouse that has fallen on tough times, could be interested in wooing Louisville coach Rick Pitino to run the Runnin' Rebels.
This comes less than a year after Louisville extended Pitino's contract through 2025-26, with an extension that's reportedly worth $51 million over the next 10 years. Of course, such contracts typically contain buyout clauses, so his existing deal isn't a reason to automatically dismiss the report.
Las Vegas Review-Journal basketball writer Matt Youmans wrote that Rick Pitino has "several influential friends' in Las Vegas who could be interested in making a Pitino move happen.
Youmans wrote: " 'If Pitino is interested, the money would be there,' a source close to UNLV said Friday."
UNLV fired coach Dave Rice last week.
If you're interested in the Rick Pitino part of the story, here's a link to Youmans' story.
But the interesting part for Gophers fans is near the bottom of the story, where Youmans writes: "It might also offer a future for Pitino's son. The source who stated Pitino's interest in the job also said he might want to include Richard Pitino, who is struggling in his third season at Minnesota, on his staff and tap him as the Rebels' coach-in-waiting. Richard Pitino, 33, is a promising coach and potential star, but he's stuck at a bottom-tier Big Ten program in a situation that appears hopeless."
This is Version 2.0 of the stories that appeared during Richard Pitino's first season at Minnesota, when the Gophers won the NIT and his name was being linked to an assortment of coaching openings around the country.
Rick Pitino, 63, was at Williams Arena on Saturday, watching his son's Gophers lose 70-63 to Indiana, the 10th loss in their last 11 games.
Review-Journal columnist Ed Graney added this aside to the speculation: "Whether it's true he would be interested in UNLV because he could potentially bring son Richard onto the coaching staff and negotiate him as head-coach-in-waiting (which would really have to be explained, if true, as to why Richard would immediately deserve such a placement) or that Pitino merely desires an escape to another zip code and away from the sort of negative publicity that has found him lately, none of it means anything unless those Rebel boosters so intent on making a splash in the hiring process finally apply ink to their checks."
For perspective on the situation from Louisville, here's a piece from Eric Crawford of WDRB.com.