clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Olson Finally Gets Some Gratitude

No doubt Lute Olson wanted his career to end differently than it did, but perhaps the warm and touching tribute at the McKale Center this weekend took some of the sting out of it. Even media nemesis Greg Hansen, America's worst columnist, found some vaguely nice things to say.

Some of the other comments from the media weren't overwhelmingly nice, either. There's no doubt he could be a bit of a jerk with the press, but you could say that about a lot of coaches. And in fairness, when you have people writing stuff about what you do for a living and they aren't fully informed - and it's almost impossible to be fully informed, even if you have enough knowledge of the game to be a fair critic - it's understandable that these guys get testy.

It's unfortunate, though. Some in the media - Hansen for one, in our opinion - kicked Olson while he was down. There's no way to overstate the magnitude of what he did. This is a guy who could have gone to Kentucky or UCLA or just about anywhere he wanted after the great job he did at Iowa. Yet for some reason, he saw potential in Tucson, and perhaps being so far from the previously mentioned fishbowls was part of that.

He had nothing when he got to Arizona - no tradition, no players, not even a reasonable media market or worse, a recruiting base. They won four games the year before he got there. It was possibly the stupidest coaching move in history - except that he made it work, and made it work brilliantly.

It's nice that he finally got a decent send-off. The city and university were thrilled beyond belief when he made the team into a power, but at heart, Tucson has a small-town ego, and Arizona's athletic success is hugely important. When things got weird, many turned on him. It was sad and unfortunate, but amends have largely been made. Here's hoping Lute is happy and healthy, and that everyone realizes what he did for them.