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Rick Pitino Calls SEC Basketball 'Second-Rate,' Does He Have A Point?

Rick Pitino should know something about SEC basketball. After all he was 219-50 including a 104-28 conference record while at Kentucky from 1989-1997. His accomplishments during that time include a National Championship in 1996 and a runner-up finish in 1997. Over the course of his last two seasons in Lexington, Kentucky was a staggering 69-7. Lets not forget that Tubby Smith won a National Title in 1998 with Pitino's team. 

Thus, Pitino's comments from a Thursday night fundraising event ruffled the feathers of many SEC's loyalists when he called the SEC a quote "second-rate league". 

When talking about his son Richard Pitino returning to the Louisville coaching staff after two seasons at Florida, Pitino quips:

"(Richard) went away for a couple of years to learn how to do things in a second-rate league, then get back to the big time."

The comments seem to be a retaliation of sorts to Kentucky coach John Calipari's comments about the number of teams that the Big East has gotten into the NCAA Tournament the last few seasons and their limited success. Here is the complete Calipari quote. 

This is no knock on the Big East but they’ve had 19 teams in the Tournament the last two years and how many have made it by the first round? How is this happening? When they start playing each other they say the 11th team is really good. What? We have to figure out how you play the best schedule you can play and still win. That’s different for all of us. I think that’s more important than 16 or 18 (conference) games.

It isn't likely in this instance that Calipari was trying to take a shot at the Big East but rather was discussing the impact of the SEC's decision to do away with divisions in basketball. Whatever his intentions, Pitino wasted little time in firing back. Never a dull moment for the Kentucky-Louisville rivalry. Too bad that the season is still months away. 

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.