For the first part of this college basketball offseason, assistant coach Mike Balado was in limbo.
A member of Richard Pitino’s staff at FIU last season, he was all set to make the move north with the Pitino to Minnesota — where he was likely to join the Gophers as their new director of basketball operations. All the while, FIU was trying to convince him to remain with the Panthers under Pitino’s successor, Anthony Evans.
However, both job opportunities fell through. The 37-year-old Balado — the father of four-year-old twins along with his wife, Alicia — was ready to take an assistant job at Division II Barry University in Miami for $18,000-a-year and supplement that income working as a personal trainer at a local YMCA.
That’s when Rick Pitino stepped in. After hearing about Balado’s difficult offseason from Richard, the elder Pitino offered him a job at Louisville in April — at an annual salary of $200,000.
“I feel like the luckiest guy in the world,” Balado told ESPN. “I’m not naive. I know a lot of people are a lot more qualified than me. … But I’m going to prove to Coach Pitino every single day that he made the right choice to hire me.”
While we’re overjoyed for Balado, we’d also be remiss if we didn’t mention how this was the latest example of Rick Pitino absolutely crushing it this offseason.