Devil’s advocate wonders: Are Rick Pitino and Steve Masiello eyeing WKU?

22 02 2011

By now I’m sure most of you have read Pat Forde’s latest Forde Minutes column on where he ponders whether or not Western Kentucky athletic director Ross Bjork is eyeing Louisville assistant coach Steve Masiello as a (Forde’s words, not mine) strong theoretical (coaching) candidate for the Hilltopper basketball program.

Forde – and later the Courier-Journal’s Rick Bozich – both pondered today whether or not Bjork’s recent visit to the KFC Yum! Center and sit-in on Pitino’s postgame presser that featured plenty of back-patting for Masiello could be interpreted that WKU is putting out feelers for a new men’s basketball coach.

Specifically, Masiello.

But just to be different, what about the other side of that coin?

Is it at all possible that Bjork took an invitation from donor and former WKU Board of Regent Joe Iracane – a known friend of Pitino – to take in a Louisville game simply to check out the ins and outs of the latest college basketball shrine called the Yum Center? A facility the Hilltoppers will be playing in next season, by the way.

Is it at all possible that by getting Bjork in the door, Pitino was then presented with an opportunity to push one of his latest prodigies for a D-1 head coaching job? I mean, let’s be honest here. Masiello is a Pitino guy – he played for him, he’s coached under him – and Pitino would naturally want him to succeed. And by succeed, I mean he wants one of his guys to get his foot in the door of the head coaching fraternity ballroom.

Is it at all possible that Bjork went to check out one of Kentucky’s newest basketball hot spots but was then persuaded into listening to somewhat of a time-share presentation?

Maybe it’s not possible. Maybe it is.

What it is, though, is pure speculation.

Here are the facts as we know them.

– Ken McDonald is still the Western Kentucky men’s basketball coach.

– Neither Bjork, nor WKU president Gary Ransdell, have made any comments (publicly anyway) suggesting that McDonald is on his way out. At the same time, neither have made any public comments that he’s totally safe.

– The Hilltopper fan base is less than satisfied with this season – and some (donation givers or otherwise) have made their opinions vocal about their disapproval of McDonald as the program’s head coach.

– Rick Pitino would naturally hope for one of his up and coming assistant coaches to get a head coaching shot – even if it’s down the road at a place that seems to be hitting a rough patch.

So in conclusion, I’m not saying ‘but I’m just saying’ – maybe look at it from both sides.

Maybe Bjork was really in Louisville with a hidden agenda to seek out a new men’s basketball coach while his current coach preps for the Sun Belt Tournament.

Or, maybe he was in Louisville to watch a basketball game in a state of the art facility that his program will visit next winter – before being given a serious Steve Masiello sales pitch.

Or, maybe both.

You be the judge.




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