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College Basketball Insider

Blame Chane Behanan, not Rick Pitino, for this mess at Louisville

Chane Behanan (USATSI)
Louisville's Chane Behanan was dismissed by the university on Monday. (USATSI)

Chane Behanan was suspended in the preseason, at which point Louisville coach Rick Pitino expressed doubt about whether the junior would ever again play for the Cardinals. Less than a month later, Behanan was back in uniform, and opposing fans laughed a lot.

Nice discipline, Rick!

Way to teach him a lesson, Pitino!

This is what's wrong with college basketball!

So on and so forth, the comments were consistent and predictable, and I couldn't really argue with any of them. But I also didn't mind Pitino's change of course because he's a Hall of Fame coach who gets paid millions to win basketball games, and it seemed likely that he'd win more basketball games with Behanan than he otherwise would. Beyond that, it's not like Behanan is a hardcore criminal or even an obviously bad guy. He's just a person with ... I don't know ... let's call them "issues." And if Pitino was willing to deal with those issues and any criticism he might take for dealing with those issues, why should I care?

So I didn't care much.

And then came Monday's news.

"We lost a really terrific man in many respects," Pitino said as he publicly announced that Behanan is no longer a member of the Cards, effective immediately, because of a violation of university policy. Almost immediately, opposing fans let loose with jokes, and I get it. But this whole deal makes Behanan look way worse than it makes Pitino look.

Why?

Because you already have your mind made up on Pitino.

He's either the two-time national champ who's won big at each college that's ever employed him, and someone who's done countless nice things for folks (most recently Mike Balado), or he's the man who's career was nearly derailed a few years ago by a very public off-the-court issue. You either see him as a great coach and good man who might be flawed in some ways, or as something much worse. Me? I like Pitino, personally; always been kind to me. But I understand if you see him differently, and, either way, that's not the point.

The point is that you've already made up your mind on Pitino.

And that you already know he's not a strict disciplinarian.

And yet Behanan still couldn't make it at Louisville.

So what does that say about Behanan?

Sources have told CBSSports.com that Behanan was quite literally given every opportunity to remain with the program, but he simply could not stop messing up. He was warned several times, then suspended, and yet his off-the-court behavior never really changed, which led to Monday's dismissal that should put the American Athletic Conference up for grabs.

Again, Chane Behanan was not dismissed after an arrest.

He's not a criminal.

He's just somebody who couldn't stop messing up even though he must've known on some level that continuing to mess up would lead to this. Honestly, it reminds me a little of Derrick Caracter, who was the last high-profile forward Pitino had to dismiss, and one of the great knuckleheads in recent history. If my memory serves me correctly, Caracter messed up so much that, at some point, sources told me, Pitino implemented a curfew for Caracter and explained in great detail that violating the curfew would lead to a dismissal. Caracter told Pitino he understood. Then, less than a week later, Caracter was caught on video leaving his residence after curfew, and, I was told, Caracter actually swiped his door pass to reenter the living quarters, meaning there was undeniable evidence that he was out past curfew.

Stupid, right?

But Caracter just couldn't help himself.

Behanan seems like someone cut from the same cloth.

That said, whatever issues he has, I hope he gets them straight and eventually makes a nice living playing basketball somewhere. That's sincere. But it's still hard to feel sorry for somebody who is given a billion chances but squanders each and every one of them.

Bottom line, Pitino tried his best to make this work.

But Behanan did his best to ensure it never would or even could.

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