Who Sabotaged Pitino's Recruiting Class?

Jack KingContributor IFebruary 12, 2010

How low can college sports go!?!  It's bad enough that players take a pay cut when they go from USC to the NFL or NBA (OK, that's an exaggeration, but you get the point), or that schools like Florida State send in nerdy students to take tests for players who don't have the time (or maybe the brains) to study or take a test, or that Lane Kiffin is sending hookers to entertain high school recruits.  But, the sabotage of Louisville's recruiting program brings terrorism to the NCAA.

Let's say you know David who's a basketball star somewhere in the Midwest.  He's got offers out the ying-yang from a bunch of BIG SCHOOLS,  including Louisville, Texas, and UCLA - his top list!  Things look great for David (a year or two playing college ball, then its showtime!)  He's all but ready to commit to Louisville.  It's Rick Pitino, man!  Who wouldn't want to play for Pitino.  He's 551-197 at the college level (10th on the win list of active coaches).  He's won championships, and he's got NBA connections.  And, David's mom is pushing for Louisville.  She says it close enough the family can see some of the games.  (She spent ten minutes fixing her already done hair on Pitino's last visit and David was pretty sure she was wearing a new dress!)

David's cell goes off.  His friend Lou wants to know if he's heard that Patino is going to the Nets.  What!?!  While he's on the phone, it buzzes in his hand.  OMG, it's Coach Pitino.  Coach swears he's not going anywhere.  He wants David to know that he wants, needs David in Louisville and he, Pitino promises, will be there to coach him the whole way.  That's a relief!  Whew!

David calls Lou.  Lou reminds him that they all say that; hello, Pete Carrol.  David talks to his dad.  Yeah, his dad likes Patino;he's probably telling the truth; but, Roy Williams seemed for real, then bailed on the boys he'd recruited at Kansas.  There are other good schools - it's a huge career decision for David.  Why take the risk?  The weather's better at UCLA.  (And, there is the whole thing about Pitino getting caught in some lies earlier in the year - I'm sure he's tired of the hot seat).

One false rumor destroys a recruiting class.  It's that easy.  OK, Pitino could be lying (I understand that restless coaches are caught between a rock and a hard place). Maybe he does have intermediaries talking to the Nets.  But, he's a hell of an actor if he's lying. And, if he's not lying, it's a rumor that will still haunt him for years.

So, who started it?  Maybe somebody just got their facts wrong.  Maybe even someone that knows Pitinio and wrongly thinks he might be interested in the Nets job said something to somebody.  Or, maybe the rumor was started by another athletic department from another university. Who, you ask?  The suspects are endless - a school recruiting some of the same players (and you know they all want the same guys), another school in the Big East that wants to push Louisville back down (did you see them get hammered by hapless St. Johns (3-8 in the conference) last night in the midst of this turmoil), or maybe another Kentucky school (I won't mention any names!).   Who knows.  The list of potential "unsubs" is endless.