Rick Pitino's Louisville ended. The legendary coach was fired in October 2017 amid a pay-for-play scandal connected to the FBI's probe into college recruiting.would be one of the sport's most improbable redemption stories, if it works out, considering how Pitino's time at
Just over two years later, he's back in the saddle with a new program and chance to end his career on a high note.
He wouldn't be the first college coach to survive the hit of a scandal and have success after resurfacing with a lesser-known program. Here are six other memorable coaching comebacks in college basketball.
Bruce Pearl -- Auburn
Maybe Pearl could have gone overseas to coach like Pitino did, but when he was fired at Tennessee in 2011 amid an NCAA investigation and later given a three-year show-cause penalty, he went to work at as a vice president of a grocery distribution company not far from the Tennessee campus. When his show-cause was up, Pearl was hired at Auburn. Things have gone well for Pearl, where he's posted a 125-76 mark that includes a Final Four trip in 2019. He also had his Tigers team positioned well for the 2020 NCAA Tournament with a 25-6 record in the regular season before action was canceled.
Bob Knight -- Texas Tech
After 29 years and three national titles at Indiana, Knight was dismissed in 2000 amid mounting abuse allegations. Still, it did not take him long to get another shot. Texas Tech hired Knight after he spent a season away from the game and the Red Raiders promptly made the NCAA Tournament for the first time in six years. They would make the Big Dance four times in Knight's six full seasons as coach. Knight became the Division I men's basketball all-time wins leader while at Texas Tech and held the mark until Duke's Mike Krzyzewski passed him in 2011.
Kelvin Sampson -- Houston
Sampson was hit with a five-year show-cause penalty at Indiana in 2008 and went to the NBA as an assistant before resurfacing at Houston in 2014. He's made the most of his shot at redemption by turning the Cougars' program around in his six seasons. The Cougars posted a 33-4 record in 2019 and made the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament. They were again positioned to make the Big Dance in 2020 before action was canceled after posting a 23-8 record in the regular season.
Eddie Sutton -- Oklahoma State
After nine straight NCAA Tournament appearances at Arkansas, Sutton succeeded Joe B. Hall at Kentucky following the 1984-85 season. By 1988, his tenure was on the ropes, however. The NCAA found UK had violated rules under Sutton and he resigned under pressure. Following a year hiatus, he returned to Oklahoma State -- his alma mater -- and compiled a 368-151 record in 16 seasons, making the NCAA Tournament 14 times and the Final Four in 2004.
Steve Fisher -- San Diego State
Fisher was fired at Michigan in 1997 for his role in the scandal involving the "Fab Five" that ultimately led to the Wolverines forfeiting several seasons worth of wins from the 1990s. After two seasons away from the college game, Fisher took over at San Diego State and turned around a moribund Aztecs program, leading the program to a 386-209 record over 18 seasons that included two conference championships and two Sweet 16 appearances.
Larry Brown -- SMU
Controversies from his previous college head coaching stops at UCLA and Kansas did not keep Larry Brown from getting another college job in his twilight years. SMU hired Brown in 2012 -- 24 years after he'd last coached in college -- and it did not end well. The Mustangs got better on the court in Brown's four seasons but were hit with a postseason ban, scholarship reductions and probation because of an academic fraud scandal. Perhaps it should not have come at a surprise, considering that UCLA was found to have used two ineligible players during Brown's time there. He also earned Kansas a 1989 postseason ban -- even though he'd already left by then -- for an impermissible benefit he gave to a potential player while coach of the Jayhawks.