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Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Rick Pitino's shaky realignment analogy

By Eamonn Brennan

Rick Pitino is not happy with Pittsburgh and Syracuse. This does not qualify as breaking news. Since the two schools announced their decisions to defect to the ACC weeks ago, Pitino has been more than willing to share his opinions about the Big East. Big East media day, held Wednesday in New York City, was no different.

When asked about conference realignment, Pitino had a variety of, ahem, angles he was willing to share. First he went after the ACC, saying the latest expansion move was less about football than about the ACC's jealousy of the Big East's recent basketball dominance:
"This was a basketball move taking Pittsburgh and Syracuse, it was not a football move," he said Wednesday at Big East media days. "They (ACC) wanted to get back to what we remember, 15-20 years ago, growing up a college basketball fan, the ACC was dominant. They don't like the fact that the Big East has been the premier basketball conference," he said.

I don't know that that's entirely true -- football does move the money these days, and there's no way to get around that -- but it does seem at least somewhat in the vicinity of a reasonable explanation. At the very least, ACC officials won't mind if their realignment moves happen to boost their hoops product while also securing a wider football footprint. Syracuse and Pittsburgh basketball count as awfully nice bonuses.

Pitino didn't stop there, though. He only ratcheted things up, first making fun of Syracuse and Pittsburgh's new conference opponents, and then dropping an analogy that is sure to have fans of Syracuse and Pittsburgh sending him angry tweets for weeks to come. To wit:
"Syracuse is playing Clemson tonight on TV!" he said in mock excitement. "It's not Syracuse-Georgetown. Syracuse will play Florida State tonight! N.C. State! Wake Forest!" [...]

"My problem is not them leaving," he said. "My problem is you did it in 48 hours. Don't run away with a girl after one date when you've been dating someone else for three or four years. You've been dating this woman for 30 years, show a little respect."

It's not that Pitino doesn't have a point. It's just that he's probably not the best one to make it. After all, last year Pitino admitted in court to cheating on his wife of 30 years with a woman, Karen Sypher, who later attempted to extort him for alleged rape, for which a judge sentenced her to seven years in prison. When a Syracuse partisan like Sean Keely, blogger at Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician, makes that exact point -- well, you can understand where Sean's coming from.

Don't get me wrong: I like Pitino's candor. And he's spot on about the hypocrisy (there goes that word again) inherent when athletic directors proclaim fealty to student-athletes one day and then rearrange their conference configurations the next. But as analogies go ... yeah. Yikes.