Media continued to swarm the University of Arizona yesterday as if Senator John McCain was on campus. However, McCain was nowhere to seen. Instead, the sudden retiring of Lute Olson shocked the state of Arizona as fans were hoping this was just a mistake.
There was no mistake, at the age of 74, Lute Olson has called it a career.
Lute Olson might be gone from the sidelines but the University of Arizona still has a season to play. It was reported yesterday that Russ Pennell, the former basketball announcer of Arizona State University, was named interim head coach over Mike Dunlap.
Olson hasn’t coached a game since the 2006-2007 season. Arizona will never find another coach like Lute Olson, Olson was the guy that turned his college into Point Guard University. Now Arizona is known as “No Clue About Arizona.”
Jordan Hill woke up on Thursday morning, turned on ESPN and found out that his coach was taking a leave of absence. By the end of the day, Hill found out Olson was gone for good. How could someone say that they are returning to eventually leave less than a month before the start of the season?
Olson talked to Chase Budinger and Nic Wise about coming back for their junior seasons. Budinger was projected as a mid-first round draft pick and Wise was planning on transferring back to his home state of Texas. Olson said he would be their coach long after they left Arizona.
Wise and Budinger are back but Olson is not. Arizona has two players that are first round NBA material this year in Budinger and Jordan Hill. Players like Jamelle Horne and Nic Wise could end up transferring after the end of the season. That is four starters that might not be back next season, which is starting to sound like Indiana’s team of last year.
Then there are the recruits. Arizona has three players that are committed to play for Lute Olson’s Wildcats, not Russ Pennell’s Wildcats. On Friday, 2009 recruit Solomon Hill uncommited from the program, which fellow recruit Mike Moser did on Thursday following the announcement on Olson’s retirement.
The last player remaining on the 2009 recruiting list is Abdul Gaddy. Gaddy had already uncommited from Arizona back in May but then signed back later in the summer. According to Abdul Gaddy Sr., UCLA and Washington have been in contact with Gaddy about his intentions. Gaddy is ranked as the second best point guard in the 2009 class according to ESPN.
Fans are disgusted about what has happened in Tucson. Across the Internet there are message boards saying firing Athletic Director Jim Livengood and that they think Mike Dunlap didn’t take the position because he is leaving too.
Once again these are only rumors surrounding the Internet community, but these talks have been going around campus. On Friday, the talk of the school was about Lute Olson. Television cameras continued to come up to student’s faces asking about the future of Arizona.
How can you talk about the future when the present hasn’t happened yet? The best answer I heard on campus was someone said that they should hire Bob Knight as the next head coach. Knight did retire from Texas Tech last season but said that he hasn’t left coaching for good.
If Arizona does decide to continue to search for a new head coach for next season the biggest names that are being considered are: Steve Kerr, Jim Rosborough and John Calipari. The only thing is none of these guys are Lute Olson.
Olson’s retirement put a dark cloud around the Tucson community and this cloud might continue to darken the community for years to come.