Kent Taylor: A long, strange day results in a UofL without Tom J - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Kent Taylor: A long, strange day results in a UofL without Tom Jurich and Rick Pitino

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - What a long, strange day it's been.

I have spent most of my 45+ years in Louisville, and for the past 23 have covered sports in this market. I'm not sure I've seen a day similar to this one.

Yes, I sat in the UofL football complex at Old Cardinal Stadium while Ron Cooper bought pizza for the media, negotiated his departure and then compared himself to Daniel in the lion's den.

I was at the Commonwealth Convention Center for the event that was Rick Pitino's opening press conference.

I was standing in the back of the end zone when Dave Ragone ran off at halftime of the 2003 GMAC Bowl, looked me in the eye, and said, "Is he going to Michigan State?" Ragone was referring to John L. Smith's almost in-game departure. Tom Jurich had a news conference at halftime. OK, that one still stands out.

Just days after UofL won the 2006 Orange Bowl, ESPN News broke the story that Bobby Petrino was leaving UofL for the Atlanta Falcons. Another hastily called news conference ensued.

Camping out for Charlie Strong. When he turned down Tennessee and then left for Texas.

All different and challenging days, but nothing like today.

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The initial blow of the FBI investigation was simply stunning. How could the men's basketball program be involved in another scandal, almost two years to the day after that shocking Friday afternoon when Katina Powell's allegations became public?

Then this.

Jurich, a fiercely loyal leader of UofL athletics, built the entire program, from Olympic sports on up, into contenders. Placed on paid administrative leave. Seemingly defeated in an ongoing battle with an administration trying to change the culture at an institution that has taken numerous hits in the last two years. From the NCAA investigation into the men's basketball program, to the unceremonious departure of President James Ramsey, to the forensic audit into the UofL Foundation, to the latest blow, implicated in an FBI investigation that threatens to change college basketball as we know it.

Then there's Pitino. A Hall of Famer. The only man to ever coach a UofL team in the KFC YUM! Center.

He stood his ground, claimed again, that he had no knowledge of the wrongdoing.

I have hosted Pitino's weekly coach's show for the last three years. He has been a pleasure to work with, and I'll admit I might have been just a little intimidated initially. However, again, I've been doing this for awhile.

Now, only a legal fight for compensation seems to be standing between a UofL without Jurich and without Pitino.

A basketball team waits for a coach, just days from beginning practice for a new season.

An entire athletic department waits for a new leader, 20 years after Jurich arrived from Colorado State, embraced the "little brother" role and invested heavily in facilities and competent coaches for all programs. Moves that eventually earned UofL a spot in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Their legacies may be soiled today by the latest scandal, and the details continue to emerge, but it will take some getting used to - a UofL without Tom Jurich and Rick Pitino.

VIDEO
RAW: Rick Pitino's lawyer says possible legal battle ahead
Who will fill Rick Pitino's shoes?
Not fired, not yet: What's next for Jurich, Pitino
Pat Forde on scandal: 'This is not just a college basketball issue'
Career Retrospective: Rick Pitino's time at UofL
+ Tom Jurich career retrospective

IN DEPTH BASKETBALL BRIBERY COVERAGE
'Dark underbelly' of NCAA hoops drags UofL under new cloud of scandal
+ UofL-Adidas Scandal: The 14 most telling excerpts from the FBI complaint
Romeo Langford's parents state UofL no longer an option

+ Pitino, Jurich, Petrino: What do their contracts look like?
+ UofL fans, students call latest shakeup 'a black eye'
Five-star recruits 
decommit from UofL amid scandal
+ Former Cards star Jerry Eaves hopes culture will change
+ Pitino issues statement after UofL puts him on unpaid leave
+ Career Retrospective: Rick Pitino
Tom Jurich issues statement after being placed on administrative leave
+ Career Retrospective: Tom Jurich

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