On Saturday afternoon, I told my wife, Laura — a Georgia graduate and a big Mark Fox fan — that her alma mater fired Fox.
On Saturday night, I jokingly told her that Georgia was going to hire Rick Pitino to lead the school’s basketball program.
“You’re lying, right?” she said with a look of disgust on her face. “I hope not.”
She might be in the minority.
ESPN’s Jay Williams set off a firestorm when he tweeted Saturday night that Pitino could be a possibility for the Bulldogs.
Been hearing Rick Pitino’s name a lot from trusted sources regarding the Georgia job.
— Jay Williams (@RealJayWilliams) March 11, 2018
Georgia fans, many of them anyway, took notice. And the subsequent barrage on Twitter began. Pitino was a popular choice among the coaches’ names who popped up to a question we put up on the DawgNation Twitter feed Sunday morning.
Georgia fans, who’s your pick for the next basketball coach?
There were others, of course. Former Ohio State coach Thad Matta and former Indiana coach Tom Crean were the most prominent, and both are really good coaches. They would be really good choices for Georgia and would do a good job with the Bulldogs — Crean actually would be my first choice. And they are probably more likely to happen than Pitino.
But Pitino’s name was right there at the top of our unscientific Twitter poll.
— Jermaine Jordan (@Jermaine478808) March 11, 2018
Pitino-to-Georgia might not happen — Georgia will have a good pool of candidates to interview and for Bulldogs fans to debate. And Georgia fans really have to ask themselves if they want to go from one end of the spectrum in Fox, a really good man who led the Georgia program with class, to Pitino, who was fired as Louisville’s coach right before the season amid controversy after controversy.
But don’t laugh off Williams’ tweet that easily. People said similar things about Jim Harrick before he took over the program and led the Bulldogs for four seasons. Of course, the way that ended might be a strike against going after a coach such as Pitino, who much like Harrick has a checkered past.
Still, there are many Georgia fans out there who would love a shot at Pitino and seeing what he could do with this program. He’s a Hall of Fame coach, after all, and there aren’t many of them out there who are available to take over a Georgia program that could use a big boost.
Georgia’s program hasn’t really nationally relevant since Harrick left, and many Georgia fans would take that chance to get a coach the likes of Pitino to be relevant again.
It would be the ultimate splash hire, and Georgia needs one to get fans to really care about this program. Most Georgia fans are waiting for spring football to get started soon and haven’t paid much attention to the basketball program this season.
Hiring Pitino would change that — but would it be worth it?
That’s something Georgia has to ask.