Will Richard Pitino succeed long-term at Minnesota? That's anyone's guess. For the moment, however, he's been a net positive for the Gophers.
Pitino was hired after only one season at Florida International, albeit one that was historically successful by FIU's miniscule standards. One game away from the NCAA tournament, Pitino would have had some talented transfers suiting up this season had he stayed.
Rakeem Buckles followed Pitino from Louisville and point guard Raymond Taylor had joined from Florida Atlantic. Now, Pitino has inspired similar loyalty from FIU's No. 2 scorer, guard Malik Smith. A 14.1-PPG scorer last season, Smith will be immediately eligible due to FIU being banned from the 2014 postseason.
Buckles may follow Pitino again if he can become academically eligible. He is finishing summer classes at FIU to that end, and cannot receive an NCAA waiver unless he leaves in good academic standing. Buckles would provide some needed muscle on the glass, having once averaged 6.1 rebounds per game at Louisville.
New Minnesota athletic director Norwood Teague has had some record of success with young coaches, having hired Shaka Smart at VCU. VCU, however, is not in the Big Ten. Smart has not had to duel nightly with the likes of Tom Izzo and Bo Ryan.
Pitino should, however, bring the kind of interest that Minnesota basketball hasn't had since the days of Clem Haskins, before widespread academic fraud came to light. An up-tempo style could appeal to some of the touted in-state prospects Pitino is trying to keep at home, such as guards Rashad Vaughn and Tyus Jones and forward Reid Travis.
While the Gophers are a long shot to lure some of those recruits away from the likes of Duke or Kentucky, just being in the conversation was not likely to happen under Tubby Smith.