Rick Pitino is back on the big stage.

The cover photo on Rick Pitino’s Twitter account has an Iona Gaels logo that will soon be replaced by the St. John’s Red Storm mascot.

Pitino coached for just three seasons at Iona, but the Hal of Fame coach won’t forget his 36-month tenure as coach of the Gaels.

“I’m not sad it ended,” Pitino said in a social media post. “I’m so grateful it happened.”

Following a disastrous ending to his tenure at the University of Louisville, it took a while for the former Kentucky coach to return to the college scene. His two national titles, a runner-up showing and seven Final Four appearances were overshadowed by a dark cloud that remained following his ouster at Louisville.

Instead of taking the first major conference job that became available, Pitino took a step down to climb back up the ladder of success. He was humbled and was willing to do what it took to return to the limelight.

Given all of the success Pitino has enjoyed as a collegiate head coach, it would have been easy for Pitino to snub the mid-major programs, such as Iona, and rely on his past credentials to land his next college coaching assignment.

He knew it wasn't going to be that easy and accepted what turned out to be a short-term stay at Iona.

In an instant, he went from coaching in arenas that seated thousands to the Iona’s Hynes Athletic Center that has a seating capacity of 2,611. He went from competing to national titles to winning conference tournaments to even get into the Big Dance. Although he was at a different level, he still recruited well and more importantly, won more games — a lot more — than he lost.

Iona needed a coach with experience like Pitino to replace a legend in Tim Cluess. Pitino needed Iona to prove he still had what it took to lead a college basketball program.

They needed each other.

In three years, Pitino guided the Gaels to a pair of  Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference titles and a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances. He went 64-22 in three seasons and it was all Pitino needed to make a return to big-time college basketball.

When St. John’s came calling, Pitino answered the call from the Red Storm in the form of a six-year contract, where he most likely will end his coaching career. He will be introduced as the team’s next head coach on Tuesday in New York.

Iona revived Pitino’s coaching career and St. John’s brought him back where he belongs in the collegiate ranks.

Now it will be easier for Pitino to schedule home-and-home contracts with major conferences and he has Madison Square Garden in his deck of cards to lure teams to New York.

In that case, does anyone see a Kentucky-St. John’s series in the future? Count me in as one who would like to see that happen in the near future.

Anything is possible.