Photo by Mike Schumann / The Daily Hoosier

The Real Question: Why is Rick Pitino Talking to the Media About Romeo Langford?

Back in August of 2015, Indiana University donor Mickey Mauer contacted Louisville Athletics Department personnel via e-mail.  That e-mail was first channeled through the IU Athletic Department, and its content alerted Louisville of a scandal involving its basketball program.  That scandal, involving the Louisville basketball program’s use of strippers and prostitutes to entice recruits, resulted in significant ridicule and shaming of its head coach Rick Pitino.

The scandal broke in October 2015 when Katina Powell, an escort that was central to the matter, wrote a book detailing her relationship with the Louisville basketball program.  In the book she alleged that she was paid $10,000 in a four-year period for providing women to dance and have sex with Louisville basketball players on campus.

That book was published by Mauer’s own publishing company.

In June of 2017 The NCAA ruled Pitino failed to monitor his program during the escort scandal and hit him with a five-game suspension.  The NCAA decision also started a process at that time that could force the school to forfeit its 2013 national championship.  Pitino was clearly distraught by the embarrassment brought to his program:

“I just feel we are devastated by the news,” he said.

Pitino was no stranger to scandal, and after yet another incident that culminated later in 2017 in which the FBI alleged in a criminal complaint that coaches with the Louisville program participated in a scheme to pay recruits’ families, he was fired.

Ultimately the Cardinals were stripped of that 2013 national championship — Pitino’s pride and joy.

Shamed and humiliated, Pitino hasn’t been heard from for months.  Until now, with this new story from the Washington Post.  And who does he want to talk about?  Indiana University, and their prized recruit, Romeo Langford.

Strangely, the Washington Post article doesn’t really reveal much.  Sure, it tells some of the inside story of the recruitment of Langford and the connections between shoe companies and his family.  But irrespective of how it looks or how you may feel about it, this is college basketball recruiting sausage making.  It’s a variation of a story we’ve heard dozens of times — just with different names involved.

As WTHR 13’s Bob Kravitz said:

“This has happened before, hundreds, even thousands of times, and it’s been happening for decades, ever since the shoe companies got involved in big-time college athletics.”

Should have started and stopped right there Bob.  That was the real story — there is no story.  Unless you want to traffic in “edgy” commentary, or in the case of the Post, fill a relatively slow sports time of year with a story.

Despite not breaking any news worthy of the Post’s bold motto “Democracy Dies in Darkness”, the story is dripping with innuendo as its author seems to want you to believe that there was wrongdoing.  And the author’s sole source for such suggestions?  You got it.

Interestingly, The Washington Post seems to be the only venue through which Pitino speaks these days.  They did a piece on him in March in which they referred to the former Cardinal coach as “defiant and wounded”.

Emotions have a voice.  When they’re wounded, they may react like a wounded animal. Wounded animals can be quite dangerous, and so can wounded emotions if they’re followed.  Is Pitino using the Post to channel his vengeance?

Perhaps not, but you have to ask yourself — why is Rick Pitino, a defeated man that has been bunkered down in his multi-million dollar island home for months suddenly talking?

And do you think the Washington Post already had this story and just went to Pitino to get some quotes — or do you think Pitino brought the story to them?  He was, after all, deeply involved in Langford’s recruitment for years.  And this is, after all, the Washington Post.  What do they know about a kid in New Albany, Indiana?

And why is Pitino talking about Romeo Langford only two weeks after he announced he would be attending IU?  You know Langford — the guy who most recruiting analysts believed would be attending Louisville to play for Pitino.

That is until that e-mail that Mickey Mauer sent started to snowball — and turned into an avalanche.

Pitino probably could have survived those FBI allegations.  Other coaches surely have.  But when compounded with the escort scandal he lost not only his most prized recruit Romeo Langford — he lost his career.

We’re sure it’s all just one big coincidence.  Pitino is always on the up and up.  He’s never done anything wrong.  Just ask him and he’ll tell you.  Or at least he’ll tell the Washington Post.

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