Pat beats Geno to $1 million

Lady Vol basketball coach Pat Summitt and UConn counterpart Geno Auriemma have one of the hottest rivalries in all of college sports. They recruit the same elite prospects. They coach the two most dominant programs in the women's game. They make the Final Four almost every year. They win Coach of the Year Awards and national title trophies with ridiculous regularity.

Not surprisingly, the Summitt-Auriemma competition occasionally shifts from heated rivalry to bitter feud. Tempers flare. Barbs fly. Scowls appear.

It's inevitable. Both are proud individuals. Both are fierce competitors. Both are forceful personalities who view losing as an unacceptable option. Both want to be recognized as the best in the game, and both know the key to this achievement is beating the other one as often and as convincingly as possible.

In short, Pat Summitt vs. Geno Auriemma is to women's basketball what Yankees vs. Red Sox is to Major League Baseball, what Wilt Chamberlain vs. Bill Russell was to pro basketball, what Arnold Palmer vs. Jack Nicklaus was to pro golf. It is the defining match-up for the entire sport.

Given the intensity of the Lady Vol-UConn rivalry, it's interesting to note that Auriemma was due to become the first million-dollar coach in the history of women's basketball in 2007-08. Summitt's recent raise enables her to beat him to that achievement.

You wonder: Was that the "landmark statement" Lady Vol athletics director Joan Cronan was referencing in announcing Summitt's raise? Was that a factor in the decision to boost Pat's pay now, instead of waiting till she wins another national title?

Maybe. Maybe not. It's great fodder for debate, though.

Bottom line: Don't be surprised if Auriemma's contract is reworked in the weeks ahead, so that Summitt won't stand alone in the million-dollar coach category entering the 2006-07 season.

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