Episode 35: With Pitino out, Gophers men’s basketball begins its coaching search

In this week’s episode of the “Weekly Rundown,” our staff discusses the firing of Richard Pitino, recruiting in-state talent and who might fill the void as the next head coach of the Golden Gophers.

Nolan O'Hara and AJ Condon

INTRO MUSIC PLAYS

NOLAN O’HARA: Hello, and welcome back to another episode of the “Weekly Rundown,” presented by the Minnesota Daily. I’m your host Nolan O’Hara. This week we had some breaking news that the men’s basketball coach Richard Pitino was fired by athletics director Mark Coyle. He’s since accepted a new job as the coach at New Mexico, so I’m here with AJ Condon, our basketball beat reporter to discuss all these latest developments. How’s it going?

AJ CONDON: It’s going good it’s good as always beautiful weather outside turn into spring, jealous that you’re going golfing tomorrow, but I know I’ll be out in the links soon. So all good from my end.

O’HARA: For sure we’ll make it out there pretty quick. I’m excited it’s going to be nice here to golf early. I know when the masters are supposed to be like.

CONDON: It’s super nice because like two weeks ago super nice weather out and we get snow on Sunday, Monday whatever it was. We’re getting the nice weather back again. I know the Master’s is coming up we got a lot of fun sports coming up too, obviously March Madness coming up. So that’s going to be a lot of fun too.

O’HARA: But for sure that kills obviously kills the productivity think we’ve been talking about that. But you look at how it’s lining up in the weekends are nice. So we love to see that it can be drab and 45 during the week, but if we get those 60-degree weekends, it’ll be all good.

CONDON: Exactly.

O’HARA: I guess back to the topic at hand here of Richard Pitino. His firing wasn’t unexpected, but it was still a little bit shocking. You know, they of course have to release it right around nine o’clock at night on Monday. But you know, you had the story for us right away. What was your reaction when it became official?

CONDON: Yeah, so like you said wasn’t really unexpected by any means. There was a tweet, I forgot exactly who it was, but the day before saying that Minnesota is expected to part ways with Pitino and then obviously Mark Coyle as you said released information, so I was a little sad when that happened. We’ve talked about Pitino obviously a lot in here. I did like him as a coach. Super nice guy. I worked with him for just this one year, but he was always super welcoming. And really nice. So when I saw it, I was a little saddened but wasn’t too surprised by it. And I am happy found a new job right off the bat. I think he’s going to do good things down in New Mexico. And I hope for the best out of him.

O’HARA: For sure. Yeah, I do too. It’s I remember one of my first assignments I ever did. I actually talked to Pitino at a winery in Alexandria of all things. They did like a Gophers coaches caravan where they went around to like little towns in Minnesota. And that was like the very first story I ever did at the Daily and got to talk to Pitino and other coaches. But it is sad to see him go. But yeah, obviously not unexpected. The writing had been kind of on the wall for a couple of weeks since that bad end to the season.

CONDON: Just total turnaround to that was the most surprising.

O’HARA: A 180.

CONDON: It really was they were looking like a top-15 team, especially at home too. That was and then something happened. The team just looked like a completely different team with like, more of like the team that Minnesota is more used to on the basketball side. So yeah, it was weird.

O’HARA: I wasn’t sold on them after Iowa. But when they beat Michigan State and Ohio State right away after that I was, I was kind of like, well, maybe this is a much better team than I thought it was. And then they kind of I guess proved me right at that.

CONDON: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Just it’s it was an odd way for it all to go down. Yeah. I mean, we’ve seen our chokes as Minnesota sports fans, but that was one of the bigger ones that like, was just such a big drop-off from play in a very short period of time, too.

O’HARA: So yeah, it’s definitely I mean, that’s more of the usual from Minnesota flip. Can’t be surprised there. I’ve grown up watching those kinds of collapses my entire life.

CONDON: Oh, yeah. I thought we were going to see another one in the hockey Big Ten tournament. 5-1 and next thing you know, it’s 5-4. And I’m like not again, not again, Minnesota. And luckily, they pulled it out. So that was exciting to be able to cheer for another chair for a championship, I guess.

O’HARA: For sure. My roommate thought he was the curse with that. He turned it on at the beginning of the third period and was like, oh, 5-1 and then goes and sees Wisconsin score three goals. I was like, man, I must be here. But again, I guess, looking at Pitino, now the big question is who’s going to replace him? You know, you already put out an article, we’re going to plug that here on the podcast, that outlined a couple of the candidates that you think could be a good fit.

And then I guess another thing to note going into this search too is we saw the Star Tribune report that Minnesota is the only Big Ten university that doesn’t have a person of color in either the position of president, athletics director or a single head coach. Yeah, when Pitino was here all 19 of Minnesota’s coaches were white. And I guess looking at both that and then we kind of have this pool of potential candidates. Coyle wants to be competitive, not just in the Big Ten, but nationally. He wants to see this as a championship-level program. Where do you think he goes with this hire?

CONDON: Yeah, so um, in my article, I listed about six guys who I thought were probably the best candidates. And most likely, obviously, I wouldn’t talk about a guy like Beilein because that’s more of a long shot.

O’HARA: I did put it in the description of our last pod.

CONDON: But yeah, so Coyle can go a lot of places with this, obviously, that article that Meg Ryan put out, Coyle obviously knows about that, he knows that there’s that the whole staff is white. And obviously, it’s going to go into his decision. But the two biggest guys that would kind of fit that narrative on, not having them all just be white, are the two guys I talked about who didn’t have the Minnesota ties. And so that’s something I think that Coyle is going to be looking into because one of the big problems that Pitino had was keeping those in-state recruits to come to Minnesota. And I think that something that’s going to help those into recruits, stay and stay here and play for Minnesota is having a guy that at least has some ties to Minnesota, whether it was playing on the team growing up in the states having his dad be a former coach, that’s going to be a big thing to be able to get these insane recruits to stay here.

In my article that’s what I kind of break down with those four Minnesota guys with Medved, Dutcher, Saunders and Musselman, they have a tie to Minnesota, and I think that’s going to be the best chance of kind of getting over that hump and keeping in-state recruits here. So I think, above all coils looking to be competitive, like you said, not just in the Big Ten but in the nation. And whoever that whoever he believes is going to be is going to be the guy that’s able to make this team competitive again, I think he’s going to go with because he wants to give this team the best opportunity. And I’m just interested to see what kind of leash this next coach has because we’ve seen what happened with Tubby Smith and with Pitino, so it’s very interesting to see how much time he gives this, whoever this new coach is to kind of turn around this program because like we just saw, we saw Jamal Mashburn, probably our best future guy on the team of freshmen, he transferred so it’s going to be obviously a tough situation to come into office new coach, so he’s going to have to get in turn things around pretty quickly, I think.

O’HARA: Yeah, that’s one thing that I have been interested in is whether, yeah, whether they will give them that long of a leash because it’s going to be a tough couple of years to start. And we can kind of circle back to that later in the podcast. I think kind of the some of the bigger names that are more likely names Dutcher. I believe his buy-out is significantly less if he comes to Minnesota than if he left for any other school.

CONDON: That is because he said he said something about wanting to come to Minnesota. So in his contract, it almost dropped $6 million. I think on the buyout I from like, $7 million down to $1 million, that obviously helps our case in that.

O’HARA: Yeah. So I think he’s a pretty likely case scenario. A pretty likely option to come in to. And Cleveland State coach, I can’t remember his name off the top.

CONDON: Yeah, there are so many of them other than I know, Tony put out an article with Gopher Hole that I was reading he had and he talked about him as well, but I didn’t talk about him in my article. Yeah, so I think those are kind of two names that are kind of rising up is like pretty likely. Oh, Dennis Gates that.

O’HARA: I was like, I knew you talk about him in there. Yeah, Dennis Gates and Brian Dutcher seem to be two names that are kind of rising towards the top as the most likely guys to come in here. Um, you know, but with that being said, as Coyle said, you know, he wants to build a competitive program that can compete for national titles. Most of the teams that are doing that kind of have one of these big-name coaches, the Coach K’s, you know, the, man, I’m blanking on every single Michigan State, there’s, you know….

CONDON: Tom Izzo, Juwan Howard now too.

O’HARA: Yeah, and a lot Calipari Yeah, you know, yeah, there’s another name…

CONDON: They’re all coming back.

O’HARA: They’re flowing. Yeah. So you know, obviously these programs have these big-name coaches, you can bring in recruits. You know, some of the bigger names as far as like floating right now are obviously John Beilein and Eric Musselman, Musselman is kind of quickly became a star here at Arkansas. You know, with that Indiana job open now too, which is probably a lot more attractive than the job here in Minnesota. What kind of realistic shot do the Gophers have at a big name? Coyle was kind of trying to sell this job in the press conference that he’s already received a lot of interest thinks it’s a, you know, great opportunity, but do other coaches really feel that way? And do does Minnesota really have any realistic shot at one of these kinds of headline names?

CONDON: Yeah, so I’m not going to call what Coyle said being a bluff, but I think that’s what he’s trying to do, he wants to sell this program to this bigger name, guys, because he knows that when that Indiana job opened up like that’s, that’s obviously a better looking, and that’s probably a better job, a job opening. So Minnesota definitely didn’t gain anything from that. And it’s, it’s going to make it a lot harder now, to lead those guys. And like I mentioned earlier, the line, that is one of the long shots and if the Gophers are able to land and that’s a guy that can turn around the program, just with his name, and those are guys that would obviously help but yeah, I mean, I don’t see them getting just because of where I see Minnesota all around, just like I feel like they never get the top guys I get some of the biggest names. And I think it’s going to that’s going to happen right now, especially with that Indiana job open. I think they’ll have kind of their first choice of the pickings. And then and Penn State too. That’s another Big Ten team that has a pretty big market and Penn State made a higher….

O’HARA: I believe they hired Purdue’s assistant?

CONDON: Cool, okay. I missed that. But so yeah, that’s already one Big Ten team off the market then. Which is good. So Indiana is going to have their first pickings. Minnesota definitely has plenty of candidates, whether it’s a big name or not, that they are going to be able to find a guy that they want that will be able to fit this program.

O’HARA: For sure. Yeah. Penn State hired Micah Shrewsbury. Okay. And yeah, he was, I think what the Celtics when they were like developing Jason Tatum and Jalen Brown, so it seems to be a good hire for Penn State.

CONDON: Yeah, definitely. So that’s going to help them out a lot.

O’HARA: Looking at Minnesota here what I mean, we’d talked about Beilein obviously being a long shot. Eric Musselman; how realistic is bringing him in? He’s only in a second year of Arkansas.

CONDON: Yeah, I mean, what he’s done. And a lot of these guys what they’ve done in a short time in these programs, it’s been pretty impressive. And they’re obviously building their names better for themselves when you can come to a lower school and really just take off with them. So he led Arkansas 22-6 record behind Alabama, who is surprised everyone in college basketball right now. So they finished up second, behind Arkansas in the SEC. And that’d be a great hire for us to just see a guy come into the second year to school like Arkansas and be able to turn that just turn not turn the program around, but really just develop this team.

He has had to 20-win seasons. And even going back to that he had five consecutive ones. So I think you’d be a great hire. I don’t know how realistic that one is, again, just because he’s a bigger-name guy. But he would definitely I think he would behind Beilein again, just I just got to throw it. I can’t keep saying his name, because that’s such a long shot. But I think Musselman would be probably the best hire that we could get for this team.

O’HARA: Yeah, he seems like kind of the home run hire. I guess there’s also I’ve seen people pose a question to for both him and Dutcher, you know, why would they really, I mean, obviously, the buyout kind of deal. So it’s just this is a place he’s wanted to go. But why would either of them really want to leave? They’re in warmer climates, they’re already having more success and have better teams than Minnesota. You know, obviously, the Big Ten’s, you know, bigger conference, kind of have that bigger program name recognition. But is there really a reason why either of these guys would leave a seemingly better situation to come here and take this job?

CONDON: I mean, I think you said I think it’s just going to that bet better conference in the Big 10. Big Ten’s always been one of the best conferences in the nation, this year’s on display more than ever. So just having that opportunity to get your name out there. When you’re in these bigger conferences, you’re able to use that as leverage and in the future, if they want to move to NBA. I think they’ve just been in this, this, this conference and what this conference has historically done. I think it just generates more buzz about their name. So yeah, I mean, obviously, what they’ve done all these colors, what they’ve done in these, in these lower programs is very impressive. But I think the goal is to always keep on building up and keep on moving up levels. And I think going from like the SEC, going from the Mountain West up to the Big Ten, I think would be a huge accomplishment for these guys.

O’HARA: For sure. Yeah, especially the way the Big Ten is looking now I mean, it’s looking a lot more basketball-heavy. Especially with this the ACC kind of falling off too.

CONDON: Yeah, I mean, obviously they had a down year. I think they have seven teams in the tournament. I think the Big 12 is also seven and then the Big Ten takes the took the crown with 10, so they obviously are very impressive conference and one of the best in the nation.

O’HARA: For sure my bracket is definitely Big Ten run-heavy.

CONDON: I didn’t want to find one I did. Whenever it was a Big Ten team to win I kept having them win. And I think I was able to get six or seven in like the Elite Eight, but I think in the bracket, I have Illinois beating Iowa. And that was I honestly just want to do that for fun. And just see what happens with these Big Ten teams. They take over the tournament. This might be one of the best brackets out there.

O’HARA: I had some wild Big Ten upsets just because I haven’t watched anybody else play outside of the Big Ten.

CONDON: I watched Big Ten basketball the most like I kind of have a little bias go into them. But I also think it’s backed up by how good they actually are. But it is March Madness. Anything can happen.

O’HARA: It’s like, I don’t know, I haven’t seen Baylor I don’t know what I like I haven’t Baylor’s on the best teams in the country. I’ve seen him play once.

CONDON: Baylor and Gonzaga, like, yes, they’re obviously I mean, nothing to discredit them, but they haven’t been playing the best teams especially recently. So it’s going to be interesting to see like how they come out against obviously, they’re going to play a 16 seed, 16 seed right away. And then the competition picks up drastically.

O’HARA: Right. Right, right from there to an eight or nine-seat. I mean, like Baylor can be playing Wisconsin second round. So I’m kind of curious about that one. But yeah, going back to the coaching search here, Coyle kind of alluded to wanting to move pretty quickly with it. But obviously, a lot of the candidates are in the tournament, most likely, potentially, depending on who he’s identified. So like, how quickly do you expect this hire? Do you think it’ll be until after the tournament? Do you think something will happen during the tournament? When a team drops out? I guess when do you kind of see this position getting filled?

CONDON: Yes, I’m not totally sure on, like, what the rules are with talking to coaches who are still playing. I mean, obviously, Pitino clearly was talking to another team. So I don’t really know exactly how that works. And it might be different during the regular season compared to the NCAA Tournament. But yeah, I think I think this, this job is going to be filled out relatively quickly.

With the people that I outlined in my article for the ones that are in the tournament, I don’t think any of them are going to make that deep of runs. So I definitely think that this position will be filled during the tournament just because of, I think the championships in early April. So we still got like three weeks, I’m about and I definitely expect that position to be filled during it. During the tournament, I just don’t know exactly when because it’s kind of does depend on who is coil looking at. Obviously, we don’t know for sure. And if the team still in the tournament, it’s probably going to be hard to talk to them when he’s when the coach is focused on, obviously bigger things at the moment. So I do think it’ll happen relatively quickly. But it also depends on who’s Coyle’s looking at. And if they’re making a deep run or not.

O’HARA: Right, that’s a rule they want to change in the NFL, because every single year the Vikings offensive coordinator gets poached in the playoffs and then and then it all seems to fall apart. Right. Is that coaches interviewing for some head coaching job.

CONDON: Exactly.

O’HARA: Yeah, I think that would definitely be that would be a good rule. I don’t know what the rules are either with this or college basketball, but it would be a good one to have in the NFL, that’s for sure. But yeah, we mentioned Pitino already at the job in New Mexico, which you know, happy to see that he landed on his feet right away and really not that bad of a program either. That’s not a bad job.

CONDON: I’m happy for him. I really hope to see his name and see that team in the tournament in the coming future just to see that he’s succeeding there for sure.

O’HARA: Yeah. And I’m really not surprised that he did get a job right away because it’s not like he’s, you know, incapable like I think some of his best coaching performances even saw this year as you look at the Iowa game. I mean, he came up with a great game plan and the Gophers executed and won that game. You know, there are obviously some other questions with it. But you know, now looking to we’re seeing transfers, Jamal Mashburn has entered the transfer portal. We saw Jarvis Omersa entered the transfer portal, both since Pitino has left. Do you think more is coming? And what kind of roster do you expect the new coach to have once kind of all the transfers settle down? Ed Conroy is still on the staff as of now, what could that mean, if he’s gone as far as Liam? Just kind of what do you expect this new coach to kind of jump into here?

CONDON: Yeah, so that’s obviously one of the other big questions. We’ve talked about, Mashburn wasn’t too surprising. Obviously, when it happened, I was still a little taken back. But I wasn’t too surprised about that. The other big one that that does scare me though, is like you said will Ed Conroy be on the staff is Liam Robbins, when a new head coach comes in, who knows if he’s going to want to clear the staff and bring in his own guys, that would mean that Conroy would leave the team. And he was a big reason why Liam came to the Gophers. His cousin, Hunt Conroy is going to graduate as a senior this year. So I could definitely see Liam Robbins transferring to and that seems to be a huge hit for the team.

We saw what happened to them after Liam got injured with his foot injury. They already they were already playing bad and then Liam gets injured; rebounding the ball became a lot harder for them, so that’d be a big loss to them. And looking at these other younger guys, too, I could see other people falling in with Jamal too. A lot of people came to this team because of Pitino, and he knows gone now. And if these younger guys continue to follow suit, whoever this new coach that comes in is going to have a lot of holes on this team. And that’s obviously not going to be an easy thing to replace right away. So I don’t know really who else might follow suit. But Robbins is definitely the one I keep my eye on because of his ties with Ed Conroy.

O’HARA: For sure, and I mean, there’s always the possibility to who knows if Pitino tried to bring some of his coaching staff down with him to New Mexico. And, you know, we could see players following him there as well. Another thing to think about too is Marcus Carr is most likely gone. As you know, he’ll look to try to make a push to the NBA. So this could be a completely different roster this year, kind of like it was this last year, too. I mean, starters were Brandon Johnson, Liam Robbins, you know, the new guys coming in, Both Gach, this was a pretty new roster this year.

CONDON: Yeah, that three transfers, you list them on the three freshmen coming in too. So that’s six new guys on the roster. And I assume we’d see the same sort of thing this next season, just seeing a lot of new faces. So I don’t even know someone but the new coach, even having people transfer here because of him. That’s also something we can see too. And it’s obviously going to depend on who he is, like who the new coaches, and if he brings over new transfers, it could be it could be a great way to kind of just hit the restart button. Obviously, you can’t like rebuild in college, but it could be a quick rebuild into new faces on this team. So it goes both ways you lose guys when you lose a coach, but the new coach also can bring some guys in.

O’HARA: For sure. Yeah, it’ll be interesting to see who they’re able to bring in and who the new coach brings in along with him. And you know, looking at this new coach, too, he’s got I don’t know if you saw Chip Scoggins column where he asked a couple of Division I coaches like what is the drawbacks of this job? One of them was the fans because Minnesota fans are obviously incredibly negative.

CONDON: And like how you’re saying that, like we’re the same way.

O’HARA: But you know, they’re incredibly negative. The biggest fan criticism of Pitino was that he couldn’t keep in-state talent. You know, every single year we’re seeing Tyus Jones, we’re seeing Tre Jones, we’re seeing Jalen Suggs, we’re seeing Chet Holmgren we’re seeing you know all these top recruits that Minnesota can’t keep here and it kind of all fell on Pitino’s shoulders people like well, Pitino can’t recruit. Um, and you know, if it’s one of these smaller name guys like you know, Dennis Gates or Brian Dutcher, you know, will they be able to kind of keep any of the in-state talent? Like what’s a realistic expectation? Because, you know, people have been kind of saying recently too you know, it’s not even bringing in those top guys. It’s kind of the two, three guys down the list. But what’s a realistic expectation? Especially if, you know, kids don’t want to stay home and play?

CONDON: Yeah, I mean, I was just about to bring up that the fact that whoever’s at our coaching spot at the moment, you’re not bringing in the number one recruit in the class, you know, you’re not going to get Chet Holmgren, no matter who’s coaching pretty much. So that’s why I give Pitino a break. There’s a lot of people to blame him. But I really don’t think there’s a coach that could have brought those guys here just with the program how it is right now.

Moving forward, though, getting those guys that are the third, fourth best, maybe even the second best whatever, in Minnesota. I think the biggest thing and I talked about this earlier, but it’s getting into with Minnesota ties, getting someone that’s more personable and that they can relate to these kids growing up in Minnesota, and go into a school like Minnesota. So I think the biggest part to really secure the best chance I guess I would say, to keep Minnesota is to keep in-state players in Minnesota. It’s a tongue twister whenever I try to say it, but I think that is the best way to do it is by getting on with Minnesota ties. Bigger names, obviously going to help you I mean, you get a guy like Juwan Howard to Michigan. He’s been there for such a short time. He’s already getting these awesome recruits in the future. So obviously…

O’HARA: He got the No. 2 recruit in Minnesota.

CONDON: Obviously big names help. But I think the biggest thing is trying to get someone with Minnesota ties to just try to try to relate to these to these kids growing up.

O’HARA: For sure Minnesotans do love the Minnesota tie. Which like could be for sure be helpful. I mean, obviously, it’ll be helpful with the fans, the fans will be all for it if it’s somebody local.

CONDON: That’s why I really don’t want like I think Ryan Saunders would do a good job here. But what I’m worried about, and this goes back to negative fans on negative fandom in Minnesota, but if Saunders fails, it’ll be so easy to criticize Minnesota for grabbing him because he was probably you could say the easiest get, like Coyle just made the easy way out by getting Saunders and he obviously could be a good coach, but I’m just worried that if he fails it’s just going to be so easy to look back and be like that was such an easy signing like Coyle took the easy way out and got Saunders, so I’m not saying he’s going to be bad but I think that Coyle should look outside of Ryan Saunders and try to get some of these other guys that are more has still Minnesota ties but not Ryan Saunders if that makes sense.

O’HARA: Yeah, I get what you’re saying. I mean, I know Pitino wasn’t Coyle’s hire, but looking at it, Ryan Saunders is essentially hiring Richard Pitino. You look at it it’s kind of you know, you’re hiring him because you can’t, hiring this guy because of his dad’s name. Yep. And, you know, that didn’t work out with Pitino. I don’t think Pitino deserved a lot of the criticism that he got. But nevertheless, you know, the reason he got that job at 30 to be the youngest coach in the Big Ten is that his dad was Rick Pitino. If Ryan Saunders, you know the reason Ryan Saunders got the Timberwolves job was that his dad’s name was Flip Saunders. So there’s, I think they need to steer clear of that because I don’t think it makes a difference to go from one coach who you know was probably unqualified for the job to another coach who’s probably unqualified for the job.

CONDON: Yep, totally.

O’HARA: Despite that, the way Pitino went out I don’t think was maybe the fairest of circumstances. He had quite a few years here. But I mean, you look at the second half of the season, like you said, Liam was down with the foot injury Kalscheur broke his hand. You have all these different injuries kind of popping up at the end of the season. I mean, Brandon Johnson was playing he was limping through the game. Those games I mean, he battled right to the end, but you know, and Both Gach had that foot injury. I mean, he couldn’t score the second half the season like there was something definitely not right with Him. Yeah. Um, so you kind of look at that and you look at Tubby Smith before him he had probably worse rosters than Pitino and got further and he got kicked out the door as well. But you know, do you think? Do you think Minnesota is kind of too impatient with their basketball coaches? Were like Tubby Smith, he maybe give them a roster like Pitino had with Amir Coffey and some of those guys who knows how far Tubby Smith could have taken that team, you know, Pitino, if the team didn’t get injured this year, they could have been in the tournament. Obviously, their play started falling off before then. But you just kind of look at all that and the next coach is probably not going to be off to a great start coming into this program right away. It takes a couple of years to build. I guess. Do you think Minnesota is too impatient? And like we kind of discussed earlier? Do you think they’ll be more patient with this next coach that they bring in?

CONDON: Yeah, so I mean, that’s why I mentioned that earlier, I’m going to be really interested to see is how long and how long the leash this new coach gets. So that’s the biggest question, looking at Pitino. So yeah, he was here for eight years. He obviously had some highs. But I think his lows outweighed his highs, that his biggest struggle outside of not being able to keep in-state recruits here was that conference winning. I mean, when I never realized really how bad that record was until I actually saw the numbers of what his win percentage was winning the Big Ten. And I think that was probably one of the biggest things to go along with his recruiting problem within the state. So I think if there are new coaches able to come in, I think the biggest thing that Mark Coyle and the staff is going to look at is if he can turn this kind of team around, specifically in the Big Ten. Pitino obviously had some good seasons, he got us to two NCAA tournaments. And so yeah, he was successful here, eight years. I think this was like coming for some time.

And with how Pitino and the Gophers finished off the season was kind of like the last straw. The whole talk was if Pitino would have made the tournament this year because he got excited last time after he made the tournament was, he going to do that same thing again this year. And I guess it’s something that we’ll never know because injuries happened to every program. And Pitino would always say that on an on his, in his interviews, he’s not trying to make excuses. But they did get hit with that injury bug pretty bad. And it’s something that as a coach and as a team you guys got to play through. And it just happened to happen. I’ve seen the worst effect because it ended up losing this job because of it. So it wasn’t the best circumstance obviously and then with COVID to having a weird offseason, obviously weird circumstances during the season. So not the best circumstances for to go out and I kind of wish he had a better going-away season than what we had just with all the unfortunate events that took place. So I wasn’t too surprised. But I really hope that this isn’t a common occurrence and Coyle continues to have short leashes with people because you can’t just keep going from coach to coach. I mean, do you see what the Vikings going from offensive coordinator to offense coordinator. You need to have some, just someone to stick in and right out with and hopefully things turn around and who knows maybe this next coach is the guy that turns around Minnesota basketball.

O’HARA: Right and Coyle can’t be blamed for the Tubby Smith one. He seemed to give I mean; he gave Pitino another year last year one kind of all the rumors were rising. And you know, the question after this year was, was it going to happen? And you know, whether he would get fired, even if they made the tournament? Obviously, you know, kind of made his decision easier for him when they fell apart towards the end of the year. But, you know, that’s, I guess that’s it. And we’ll have to see here in the next couple of days who Minnesota will bring in, I guess, do you have any last thoughts on, you know, Richard Pitino? Or on who the Gophers will bring in as the next head coach?

CONDON: Yeah, I mean, the last thoughts I have is I really do hope the best for Pitino, I’m going to be really excited to see how he kind of transitions with this new team. And I really do hope he succeeds. He was super nice. Like I said, I was really happy to work with him for the short time. I mean, talking zooms, he was always super personable, he was very welcoming, and always had a good outlook on things, even when they were losing, he still came in a good mood to the zoom conferences. So I really hope the best for him looking at our new coach, I really just hope that he’s able to whoever it is, is able to kind of turn this program around and they don’t need to be the best team in the Big Ten but show some growth in play in conference and get into Minnesota recruits. And I guess that’s all fans can be happy for at the moment if he comes in and is able to make some growth with this team. Small steps is all you need. But it’s going to take time and I think Minnesota fans to realize it’s going to take time and it’s not something that switches over one season. So give this guy whoever it is some time and let him work with the team he’s got for sure.

O’HARA: Yeah, it’ll be interesting to see how it all pans out. And yeah, definitely wish Richard Pitino the best in the future. It was always good to talk knew him on those zooms and even took a lot of the questions about his future pretty in-stride which is more than you can say for a lot of coaches. You know, so, but yeah, I think that’s all we had. I mean, it was great to have you here to talk a little bit more about this. And yeah, have a great rest of your night.

CONDON: Yeah, thanks for having me.

OUTRO MUSIC PLAYS

O’HARA: In other news: the Gophers men’s hockey team survived overtime games against Michigan State and Michigan before topping Wisconsin 6-4 in the Big Ten championship, winning its first Big Ten title since 2015. Next up for the Gophers is the NCAA tournament and the selection show takes place this Sunday.

The Gophers volleyball team fell victim to another postponement on Thursday, the team’s match against Wisconsin was postponed and that was the fifth match that has been postponed this season for the Gophers. They’re still on track to play as scheduled on Sunday against the Badgers Sunday at home at Maturi Pavilion.

The Gophers wrestling team is in the midst of NCAA championships this weekend. Heavyweight Gable Stevenson will look for his first national championship title after earning his second consecutive Big Ten title last week.

Gophers’ cross-country runner Bethany Hasz was named both the Big Ten’s women’s cross-country Athlete of the Year and the Midwest women’s cross-country Athlete of the Year. Hasz placed eighth in the NCAA championships and won of the Big Ten cross country title this season.

The Gophers softball team won all six of its games this weekend against Rutgers and Michigan State. The Gophers are off to a 9-3 start under first-year head coach Piper Ritter, and they will continue to play this weekend in a four-game series against Illinois.

That’s all for this week. Be sure to check our website mndaily.com for more extensive coverage and tune in again next week to get the “Weekly Rundown” on all things Gopher sports. Thanks.