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Jeff Borzello, ESPN Staff Writer 33d

The world is moving very fast for Louisville acting coach David Padgett

Men's College Basketball, Louisville Cardinals

LOUISVILLE -- Walking into the basketball offices on Louisville's campus, it doesn't appear much has changed within the program.

Rick Pitino's face fills the wall as you walk up the stairs, with a short bio praising his various accomplishments. Pitino's office is still there, as are the offices of assistant coaches Kenny Johnson, who was placed on paid leave, and Jordan Fair, who was fired.

Interim head coach David Padgett is still in his old, sparsely-decorated office, with the label outside of his door reading "David Padgett Assistant Coach."

One could understand if Padgett hasn't had time to clean up and move into Pitino's office yet -- but that's not the case.

The other offices are locked.

When Pitino was first placed on leave three weeks ago -- and later, when Johnson and Fair were placed on leave -- the school came over and changed the locks to their offices, per university protocol.

"We don't have a key to it," Padgett said Tuesday morning.

Because of the ongoing investigation, the doors will remain locked.

Despite appearances, since the FBI announced a bombshell on college basketball on Sept. 26, everything has changed.

Louisville, with an interim school president, interim athletic director, interim head coach and only one assistant coach, is still trying to figure things out.


PADGETT REMEMBERS Thursday, Sept. 28 clearly. Not only was it the day he met with Louisville interim president Greg Postel and was told he was going to be named the acting coach, but it was his wife, Megan's, birthday.

It was a little overshadowed this year.

"She and I went out to dinner five or six days later," Padgett said. "I think she understood."

Once Pitino was placed on unpaid administrative leave on Sept. 27, the questions began: Who was going to step in for the season? There were names from outside the program thrown around, but the Louisville players wanted to stay in-house -- and they wanted Padgett. They sent texts to people within the athletic department showing their support for Padgett, and word reached the president and board.

Padgett was introduced as acting head coach a couple of days later -- made official on Monday, with the approval of the University of Louisville Athletic Association board -- and one of the biggest programs in the sport was now under the watch of a 32-year old first-time head coach who was the director of basketball operations just two years ago.

It really hit Padgett at the first practice, before Louisville's football game on that Saturday.

"It was so fast and chaotic," he said. "It wasn't disorganized, but it was such a blur. It was the first time I've run a full practice. It was a whirlwind five days; we just had to catch our breath."

Since then, Padgett has tried to bring a sense of normalcy to the program. He hired 61-year-old Trent Johnson  as an assistant coach, someone who brings plenty of head coaching experience after runs at Nevada, Stanford, LSU and TCU. He's in the process of hiring a second assistant coach, and hopes to have that done by the end of the week.

As for recruiting, sources told ESPN that Padgett has gone to see former Louisville commit Courtney Ramey, who reopened his recruitment shortly after Pitino was placed on leave.

Padgett hasn't talked too much to Pitino, whom he also played under from 2005-08, but has had a few conversations via text message. Pitino has been supportive of Padgett, pushing him to lead this team to a Final Four run. Padgett said he's taken a lot of X's and O's from Pitino, not only because the players are familiar with it, but because it's been successful for so long.

One trend he's not going to continue?

"I can guarantee you that I will not have a white suit on this year," he said. "I think I'm too tall and my skin's too pale. We'll let that go out with Coach."

Padgett is obviously aware of the two major scandals -- first the sex-for-pay scandal and now this -- over last three years. Both occurred while Padgett was on staff.

"People are going to assume, people are going to ask, people are going to think what they're going to think," Padgett said. "People are entitled to that. But look, at the end of the day, I know I've done nothing wrong. I know just because I work here, I'm going to be associated with certain things. That stuff is going to pop back up once in awhile, but I have nothing to hide with it, so I'm just telling people the truth."


MONDAY MARKED the end of a storied and successful yet tumultuous chapter in Louisville basketball, with the ULAA voting unanimously to terminate Pitino's contract "with just cause." The next step is unclear, but it does enable Louisville's team to move on to focus on the 2017-18 season. Prior to the FBI investigation, this was a team ranked in most preseason top 10s and expected to compete for a Final Four in March.

Even with the loss of Pitino -- and the suspension of incoming five-star freshman Brian Bowen, a situation that Padgett said is "out of my hands" -- the Cardinals are still a top-25 team and one that might have diminished expectations with the recent news.

"That's kind of the thing that went overlooked for a little while, just because of everything else that was going on, but we have a very good team," Padgett said. "We have some talent. We shoot the ball very well, we're athletic, we're long, we've got tall guards. It's just a matter of me not screwing it up, first of all. But I think we have a chance to have a very good year."

Double-figure scorers Quentin Snider and Deng Adel are both back, while senior Anas Mahmoud also returns. Padgett was particularly excited about the development of junior forward Ray Spalding and sophomore wing V.J. King.

"I think they're such a close-knit group," Padgett said. "They all want to play for each other. They all seem to be supportive of me. They want to just enjoy this year of college basketball. You only get four years to play."

Padgett knows he's only the head coach for the next seven months. After that, Louisville could decide to look for a permanent replacement, of which it will likely have plenty of options. Publicly at least, Padgett doesn't have a long-term play in this situation. He doesn't have the answers to most of the questions surrounding the program, whether it's Bowen's eligibility or the likely coach next spring or if the NCAA will have further sanctions.

To be honest, nobody does. That's why Padgett is consistently discussing this season and focusing on the present.

"Whatever happens, happens," he said. "If we have a great year and we do well enough to where we're in a position to be around moving forward, so be it. We're not expecting that, we're not auditioning for that.

"Why are we gonna worry about what's going to happen eight months from now, when we have a chance to do something remarkable for the next seven months?"

Padgett and his program are taking everything day-by-day, not getting bogged down by things outside his control.

Like locked doors.

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