TUCSON, Ariz. — Russ Pennell knows he will most likely be coaching college basketball next year, just not at Arizona.
The surreal one-season ride of the former assistant coach and ex-radio broadcaster who was thrust into the head coaching role at one of the country’s premiere basketball programs in October is winding down after last week’s 103-64 loss in the Sweet 16 to Louisville.
“I asked (athletic director Jim Livengood) who the next coach was going to be and he wouldn’t tell me,” Pennell said Tuesday after an exit interview with Livengood.
Pennell, who cleaned out his McKale Center office on Monday, said he wishes the next coach nothing but the best, but likely wouldn’t accept an assistant coaching position at the school.
“To me, I wouldn’t think someone would even do that,” said Pennell, who went 21-14. “I had a whole year of calling the shots, being the guy and I … just think that would kind of be an awkward situation for everyone.”
Pennell was named Arziona’s interim coach on Oct. 25, one day after Hall of Fame coach Lute Olson announced he was stepping down due to health concerns.
Pennell was a radio broadcaster a year ago for Arizona State.
Pennell plans to leave Thursday for the Final Four, where there will likely be many conversations with potential suitors.
As for the future of the Arizona program, Pennell sent a word of warning to Wildcats fans.
“One of the things that is going to hurt Arizona for awhile is, basically, there have been three years missed on recruiting when you get right down to it,” Pennell said.
“Not that they didn’t sign some good guys, they just didn’t show up. So you’ve got some repairs to make in the recruiting world before Arizona can really get back to being Arizona.”