When Rick Pitino resigned as president and coach of the Boston Celtics on Jan. 8, he loosed a fusillade of rumors over where he will land next. Feeding the frenzy of speculation is the number of big-time programs—listed below along with the skinny on their chances of landing Pitino—whose fans are antsy for a higher-profile coach. The runner-up prize for the losers of the Pitino sweepstakes? Bob Knight, anyone?
UNLV: They love Armani suits on Gucci Row, but the rest of the Mountain West Conference is strictly Wal-Mart. UNLV, however, was seen as the early favorite to nab Pitino because it has some built-in advantages. It already has a vacancy—sorry, Max Good—and can pony up the requisite cash, a package reportedly worth more than a million a year.
UCLA: Sources close to Pitino say this is the job he really wants—L.A. is a much grander stage than L.V.—and there's tension between Bruins coach Steve Lavin and athletic director Peter Dalis over the fact that Dalis has twice spoken to Pitino recently. One sticking point: UCLA would have to pay Pitino a lot more than it's giving Lavin, who makes $485,000 annually.
INDIANA: Pitino is one of the few coaches who could surmount the sniping of Knight loyalists. He would also be able to recruit on a national basis while benefiting from a local pipeline that doesn't exist at UNLV. The big impediment could be Rick's wife, Joanne, who's said to be disinclined to move to another college town.
MICHIGAN: Ann Arbor is bigger than Bloomington, but is it big enough to pass the Joanne test? More to the point, could the Boy King really be happy in a place where football reigns?
MASSACHUSETTS: Pitino's alma mater was 4-10 through Sunday under Bruiser Flint, but the feeling is strong that Pitino is washed up in the Bay State.