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Thursday, October 18, 2012
Pitino, Boeheim trade realignment thoughts

By Eamonn Brennan

And by "thoughts," I mean barbs, and by "barbs," I mean expletives. Fun!

So, the story: During Wednesday's Big East media day festivities, amid the hustle and bustle of actual talk about basketball (see Dana O'Neil's notebook from the event for a thorough download), Louisville coach Rick Pitino said Memphis and Temple could "more than make up for" the departures of Syracuse (and Notre Dame and Pittsburgh) in the seasons to come. Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim thought this was really funny, and expressed as much:
“Rick’s full of [expletive] if that’s what he really said,” Boeheim said. “If he was in the Big 12 right now like he wanted to be, he’d being saying the Big 12 is the best. That’s the bottom line.”

Boom. Roasted.

There was more -- Boeheim said he knew Louisville wanted to leave the Big East ("everybody knows it"), that if you think Memphis and Temple are better basketball schools than Syracuse you don't know what you're talking about ("and I thought Rick was smarter than that") and how basically, everybody should just keep Syracuse's name out of their mouths. The whole thing was pretty spectacular. Never let it be said that Boeheim doesn't have a way with words. In another life, he could have been in MC battles. He's got cutting jibes for days.

Naturally, Pitino did not let this declaration go unanswered:
“I think he’s full of [expletive], and so we’re both full of [expletive],” Pitino said. ”I think without question Temple and Memphis … Look, we’re going to miss Syracuse because they bring more than just a team. They bring the fans, and Memphis and Temple can’t do that. But anybody who looks at where Memphis has been in the last 10-12 years, anybody who looks at the tradition of Temple and knows Franny Dunphy, would know I’m not full of [expletive]."

While I agree with Pitino's point generally -- Memphis and Temple are good additions to the Big East's basketball conference, there is no denying that -- he's wrong on the merits. Of course the Big East is taking a hit. It's losing Syracuse and Pittsburgh and Notre Dame. Forget the sheer economics, or the football-related issues, or the fact that those teams have really large, passionate, even national fan bases. From a sheer basketball perspective, it's a loss. There's no debating it.

Fortunately, after 40 years working and coaching on sidelines both shared and opposing, neither man seems to harbor serious ill-will. Just busting chops at Big East media day. But even so: Game, set, match Boeheim.