Michigan might have a little extra motivation ahead of tonight’s matchup against Louisville for the national championship. Cardinals coach Rick Pitino apparently accepted the Wolverines’ head coaching job in 2001, only to rescind it and head to Louisville instead.
According to mlive.com, Pitino actually signed an agreement to become head coach of Michigan, but a conversation with his wife became the deciding factor in his eventual change of heart to head back to the state of Kentucky.
“I said to her, ‘You don’t understand, the (former) Kentucky coach can’t coach at Louisville. You’re just not getting it.’ She said, ‘It’s one game every year, and every other year you have to visit. What’s the big deal?’ I said, ‘It’s a big deal. We don’t want to do that. We’ll be miserable. You don’t want to put yourself in that situation.’
“She said, ‘You know what, that line you’re always using, ‘I’d rather live one day as a lion than a thousand as a lamb? You’re an ‘F’ing lamb.’
After his wife basically called him out, Pitino went with the Louisville job over the Michigan vacancy.
The best part of the story? When Pitino tried to call then-Michigan’s AD Bill Martin to tell him he wouldn’t be coming on, he couldn’t get through because Martin was playing a game of squash. Pitino had to leave a voicemail to turn down the offer.
Michigan instead turned to Tommy Amaker, and it took a decade for the program to recover. Tonight’s matchup will be both Pitino and Michigan’s first appearances in the national championship game since the incident.