Among 43 Division-I coaching vacancies that have been filled this off-season, the Gophers made one of the best hires according to CBS Sports’ Jeff Goodman.
The hiring of former Florida International University coach Richard Pitino was given a B+ by the CBS college basketball insider.
Was it a bit of a stretch? Sure. Little Richard has only been a head coach for one season, and we all know he would not have gotten the FIU gig a year ago if not for his last name. However, Richard Pitino quickly proved himself by winning 18 games at a program left in complete disarray by Isiah Thomas. Athletic director Norwood Teague and his right-hand man Mike Ellis know the coaching pool as well as anyone, and the last time these guys listened by Billy Donovan, it resulted in the hiring of Shaka Smart at VCU. Minnesota is a tough job, one of the most difficult in the Big Ten, but Pitino gives the Gophers a chance — especially after hiring a quality staff of Dan McHale, Ben Johnson and Kimani Young.
Texas Tech racked in a C- for hiring former Gophers coach Tubby Smith which was justified by his age (61-years-old) and the difficulty of making Red Raider basketball relevant in Lubbock, Tex.