Pitino sets closing date to coaching career, but will it stick?

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Rick Pitino’s done with coaching in five years. Maybe.

Sure, the Louisville coach didn’t leave much open to interpretation during a Tuesday press conference. Check this:

“When you’re 59, you’re realistic that you don’t have a whole lot of years left,” Pitino said. “My contract’s going to run out in 2017. I’m not coaching any more after that.”

So what’s to interpret? Plenty.

For starters, he never said “retire.” He may take a break, then pop up somewhere else. Or he may decide that a few more seasons makes things to invigorating to quit. After all, contemporaries Mike Krzyzewski, Roy Williams and Bob Huggins are in similar situations and aren’t anywhere near calling it a day. The job can be a grind, but it’s a grind they love.

Besides, Pitino would hardly be the first famous person to offer a five-year timeline and later change his mind. And this is hardly the first time Pitino’s talked about retirement.

As Mike Rutherford from Card Chronicle points out, Pitino’s often said Louisville will be his final coaching job and has reference retirement multiple times. Retiring at 64 sounds pretty good, especially when you’ve won a national title and led three different teams to the Final Four, something no one else has done. He’s 253-96 in 11 seasons at Louisville and makes $3 million in base salary every season.

Does it seem like he needs anything else? Not really. But Pitino’s never been a guy whose career has been about need. He does what he wants. And it’s served him well.

But hey, maybe he doesn’t want to stick around to be part of the ever-changing Big East. Come to think of it, that might be reason enough to call it a day.

Check back in five years.

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