Friday, December 07, 2007

Breaking News: Lute Olson will not coach this season!

This I just saw on ESPN Outside the Lines email alert. The Arizona Star Net has a nicely done timeline of Lute Olson's leave of absence (aka "sabbatical"). More on this story from Rivals, Arizona Sports Hub, Arizona Athletics, Can't Stop the Bleeding, Fan Natino and lots more.

Speaking of Outside the lines, their centerpiece feature will be Michael Vick's legal situation.

Judging from how Lute Olson behaves, and some of the rumors, it is not unreasonable to speculate that the issue might involve someone in his family that Lute wants to protect from the media attention. Most coaches would coach through their own health problems and issues, and only step away when the ADs or the university presidents (or the medics) carry them off the court.

Some have mentioned that it has to do with the health of one of his children. His behavior would certainly be consistent with that of a dad dealing with a difficult health issue affecting one of his children.

What does this mean on the court? Kevin O'Neill is no longer temporary-interim, he is a full-season-interim head coach. This is a good thing for the players and the fans for this season because it removes the day to day uncertainty. Now the players know that the enforcer is running the show and there won't be no Lute coming in to "save them". They have to fully buy into Kevin O'Neill, otherwise they will be "friends of the pine". And it will be an interesting dress rehearsal for Kevin O'Neill as a potential heir to the U of A throne (or at least as a potential head coach somewhere else in Division 1).

But what about the future? This is where things get murky. Lute's age had been an issue but he managed to remain in place while most of the other schools in the Pac-10 have gone through more than one coach. But this "sabbatical" combined with the uncertainty will raise a cloud over future recruiting. Coaches are always trying to find ways to "convince" players to switch up, so expect a wave of runners to go hard at Brandon Jennings and the other Arizona commits and prospects, using a softer side of Sears approach. "Lute is a great coach, we wish him the best, but is he going to be there next year? Can you take that risk and be coached by that lunatic Kevin O'Neill instead? Why not come to ZZZZ State, where we have great..."

Books on Lute Olson

  • Lute the Season of My Life, paperback (Oct 2007) and hardcover (Oct 2006).
  • Tales from the Arizona Wildcats Hardwood.
  • Arizona Wildcats Children's Book "Hello, Wilbur!".
  • The pictures are links to the Amazon book description pages.

    An AP story by Arthur Rotsein at AOL News reports that a divorce was filed the same day Lute Olson took a leave of absence. If that's the only reason Lute Olson took time off, it sounds a bit too dramatic. If anything, he would need coaching to take his mind off the divorce drama. But then again, it's his life, his choices, his decision, not mine!

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