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Updated: April 16th, 2014 12:12pm
USA Today speculates Richard Pitino will be considered in Tennessee

USA Today speculates Richard Pitino will be considered in Tennessee

by Nate Sandell
1500ESPN.com
Email | Twitter

Tennessee is suddenly looking for a new basketball coach after Cuonzo Martin left to take over the head coaching position at Cal.

Could Gophers coach Richard Pitino, who just wrapped up his first season in Minnesota, be a potential target for Tennessee?

USA Today's Nicole Auberach named Pitino on a list of 11 coaches who may be considered for the vacancy in Knoxville.

At 32 years old, Pitino has two years of head coaching experience at two different schools, having helmed Florida International's program before taking over at Minnesota last season. Pitino led the Gophers to an NIT championship after missing out on the NCAA tournament following an 8-10 run in the Big Ten.

The move appears on the surface to be a long shot for Pitino. However, Tennessee does have legitimate appeal if the program did decide to pursue the young Gophers coach.

The Volunteers have battled to get back into the national spotlight in the three seasons after Bruce Pearl was fired for his involvement in a recruiting scandal. But Martin rebuilt the program and guided Tennessee to 24 wins and a Sweet 16 bid last season.

Plus, Tennessee has an impressive basketball practice facility -- something the Gophers are sorely lacking. The Volunteers' Thompson-Boling arena, which was renovated in 2007, is the second largest arena in the SEC, with a 21,678-person capacity.

Pitino is under a six-year deal with the Gophers, currently making $1.2 million. His contract buyout stands at $1.5 million.

Nate Sandell is a contributor to 1500ESPN.com.
Email Nate | @nsandell
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