Pitino tattoo could kick off troubling trend

The payoff for winning a national title? For Louisville coach Rick Pitino, a tattoo on his back. Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

In the moments that followed Louisville’s national championship victory over Michigan earlier this month, Rick Pitino’s players reminded him about the bet.

Prior to their title run, Pitino had promised his team that he would get a tattoo if the Cardinals won the national championship.

His players were quick to offer suggestions in Atlanta when they spoke to reporters from the podium after the game:

Peyton Siva: “You know, get my name. At the beginning of the year, ‘If you guys win, I'll get a tattoo.’ It was crazy to even think about it. But we won. So he's a man of his word. I told some reporters he should get a lower back tattoo. He said, ‘Does it sting?’ I said, ‘I don't know. I don't have any tattoos.’ … I think that was our biggest motivation, was to get Coach P a tattoo.”

Luke Hancock: “I don't have any tattoos, but we have a couple ideas. I don't think he knew what he was getting into when he signed up for that one.”

Well, Pitino proved that he’s a man of his word when he followed through with his promise.

On Friday morning, Louisville sports information director Kenny Klein tweeted a photo of Pitino with the new tattoo on the left side of his back as he stood next to the Cardinals’ national championship trophy.

It features the Louisville ‘L’ with the words “NCAA Champions 35-5” beneath it.

Per ESPN.com, Louisville tattoo artist Adam Potts completed the design.

"I was a little nervous," Potts said Friday. "I felt like I did when I did my first tattoo 12 years ago."

Now, what does this all mean?

Well, for Louisville, it means its head coach isn’t afraid to have a little fun.

And that’s refreshing.

For six months, we rarely see these guys smile. As reporters, we endure a lot of monotone, rigid news conferences that fail to provide many light moments.

It’s a game. But you wouldn’t know it by the tone of the exchanges between players, coaches, writers and media relations folks in the crux of the season.

Pitino’s tattoo belies that seriousness.

It’s a cool gesture. We can all laugh about it.

But I’m worried that this will become a trend -- or worse.

There are a lot of egos in this game, so Pitino’s peers are probably plotting a way to top him in the coming years.

Will John Calipari get a platinum grill with “We da best” etched into his front teeth if the Wildcats win it all next year? Will Bill Self ask Jacob the Jeweler to craft a basketball-sized charm onto a gold chain if Kansas wins another national title?

What if Josh Pastner leads Memphis to the national title? A Rick Ross track and music video would make sense, right? Mike Brey would probably join 2 Chainz’s tour if the Fighting Irish earned a crown.

Listen, I’m glad Pitino kept his word.

But it’s OK if this is just a one-time thing.