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UCLA and Pac-12 men’s basketball needs Rick Pitino

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UCLA should go all in to land Rick Pitino

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Michigan vs Louisville Thomas Joseph-USA TODAY Sports

Lets face it. Pac-12 men’s basketball is just not good right now. There is no indication that any conference team will make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. The conference may not even get three teams in the tournament. Watching Pac-12 mens basketball is a difficult watch. What can be done to change this stagnant basketball conference?

Two words.

Rick Pitino.

Pitino would bring pedigree, a winning record, discipline, credibility, and National Championships. Rick Pitino would give the UCLA Bruins and the Pac-12 Conference an instant shot in the arm. Coach Pitino is one of the greats in college basketball and brings instant legitimacy to the program he coaches at.

UCLA, who fired Steve Alford, is looking for a long term solution right now. The powers that be at UCLA need to approach Pitino, if they haven’t already, and just ask “what do you need/want?”

Money should not be an issue in Westwood at all. They went out and got Chip Kelly to come there and take over the football program. That was not a cheap hire. The Bruins need to sell out for Pitino.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Louisville vs Jacksonville State Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

I understand the pushback on Rick Pitino. He cheated on his wife, stripper parties, and supposed payments to a recruit by Adidas to get the recruit to Louisville. If we are going to get all high and mighty about him about him cheating on his wife then step back and breath. You will have to do the same with many other college coaches. The stripper parties was done by an assistant coach who went outside of what Pitino thinks is acceptable. The payments to a recruit by Adidas he has never been directly tied too. There has never been a text message, phone call, email, or any other type direct linkage to Pitino.

However, you want to get your basketball program to a spot where you want it, then you go get Rick Pitino. Everywhere he has been he has got his program to the Final Four and has won National Championships. If Rick Pitino comes to UCLA imagine the recruiting he could do in the talent rich Southern California area. He certainly would be able to recruit on a national stage as well. Pitino is an East Coast guy, so he’ll have all those contacts to attract top talent to sunny Los Angeles.

Pitino would have the Bruin basketball program turned around quick. Fans might get whiplash with how fast Pitino would turn the program around.

Pitino is a star in college basketball circles and in a city such as Los Angeles which is built around stars he would fit right in. Plus, Pitino wouldn’t be intimidated by anything. He took Kentucky and Louisville to titles and those programs are two of the biggest programs in the country.

Within four years, he has got Providence, Kentucky, and Louisville to Final Fours. Once Kentucky came off of sanctions, he took the Wildcats to a Final Four within two years.

Some people might balk about Pitino’s age. Rick Pitino is 66 years old. He’s not young, but keep in mind that Mike Krzyzewski is 71, Jim Boeheim is 74, and Roy Williams is 68. The success between these coaches goes without saying. There is also some controversy with Boeheim and Williams as well, but they are still coaching successfully.

Rick Pitino did say after he was released by Louisville that he did not want to coach anymore. He said that he was “done”.

Not so fast.

Pitino’s desire to coach has not left him entirely. He recently signed a contract to coach a team in Greece.

Is that an obstacle in getting him to UCLA? Possibly. There is probably some type of buyout to get Pitino out of his Greece contract.

UCLA has to ask themselves how much do they want their basketball program to succeed. The Bruins won’t be able get some coach from a Power 5 conference who is comfortable with their situation. There have been many coaches at UCLA who have got their teams to Sweet 16’s and some to Final Fours who have been fired. Not many good coaches would want to walk into a situation like UCLA.

Names like Earl Watson, Fred Hoiberg, and Eric Musselman have been bantered about as possible replacements for Steve Alford.

Really?

If that is the best that a storied UCLA basketball program can do, then the Bruin brand has really fallen on hard times.

There is one answer and one answer only for the UCLA Bruin men’s basketball program.

Rick Pitino.