By Matt Slovin, Daily Sports Editor
Published October 24, 2012
Rick Pitino, the head coach of the Louisville men’s basketball team, told SiriusXM’s Basketball and Beyond radio show on Wednesday that he was extremely close to taking the head coaching job at Michigan a decade ago.
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“I was fired up to be the coach at Michigan,” Pitino recalled.
So, too, was his wife, Joanne Minardi.
“My wife came up — she just didn’t want me to go to the west coast, UNLV, and be away from the children,” Pitino said. “She agreed, ‘Okay, let’s go to Michigan.’ ”
But Pitino went on to say that when Louisville came calling, his wife questioned him for his unwillingness to return to the Bluegrass State, where he had previously coached at Kentucky from 1989-97 and winning a national title in 1995-96.
In March of 2001, Pitino, who now has 616 career victories, took over at Louisville, where he’s since led the Cardinals to two Final Fours. Had then-Michigan athletic director Bill Martin not been out of the office on some, well, not-so-official business, it might not have gone down that way.
“I tried to call the A.D. at Michigan (Martin) between 12 and 1,” Pitino said Wednesday. “I had a false name. I would give him a fake name, and he would call me back. I couldn’t get ahold of him because he was playing squash. The secretary said that he demands that he doesn’t get interrupted unless it’s an emergency and if you want you can leave a voicemail.
“I left a voicemail and went to Louisville and I’m really happy I did.”
Martin and Michigan ended up hiring Tommy Amaker after Pitino detoured to Dixie. Amaker lasted six seasons, accumulating a 108-84 record before current coach John Beilein took over in 2007.