Iona Rick Pitino
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

Rick Pitino is coming to Iona College with a “major boulder on his shoulder” but he’s not focusing on proving anyone wrong.

Iona College is going to be on the map this college basketball season no matter what their record is and their head coach is the biggest reason why. Rick Pitino is making his return to college basketball after a brief hiatus following NCAA allegations that led to his firing from Louisville.

Although he has a reason to want to stick it to his doubters, Pitino says his main motivation isn’t to get revenge on anyone.

“To say I have a chip on my shoulder would be incorrect. I have a boulder on my shoulder,” Pitino said via ESPN’s Jeff Borzello. “Not for seeking revenge; it’s more to the fact I’m more passionate, more hungry, today than I was in my 30s. It’s because of my absence from the game of college basketball. I do have a major, major boulder on my shoulder — but not to stick it to people.”

For what it’s worth, Pitino and Iona won’t have Louisville on the schedule anytime soon (unless it comes in the NCAA Tournament). The legendary head coach has to have some desire for revenge deep down after the way he was shunned by the college basketball world, but he’s not letting it on if that’s really the case.

Rather, Pitino is out to prove that he can take this small Catholic school in New Rochelle, NY to the next level. The Gaels have had success in recent years with Tim Cluess at the helm, but some believe that Pitino can turn Iona into a mid-major power.

“I’m not looking to move,” Pitino claimed. “I’m looking to build it into something special. My biggest regret wasn’t leaving Kentucky. My biggest regret was leaving Providence. Iona reminds me so much of Providence. Small, Catholic school with a small, charming campus. It reminds me so much of what I had in ’87. It allured me here.”

NY/NJ hoops reporter (NBA/NCAA) & sports betting writer for XL Media. Never had the makings of a varsity athlete.