Lute Olson and Arizona

Bumped. GO BRUINS. -N

You know what's sort of weird to consider?

When Lute Olson took over at Arizona, they were an also-ran program in the conference.

And Olson deserves major respect for creating something out of nothing in the desert. He had many great players come through Tucson and many very good teams. He has multiple Final Four appearances and a single national title.

Now, a national title is nothing to snicker at -- it's a great accomplishment, the ultimate accomplishment. Nothing I can say can denigrate that accomplishment.

But ...

Jim Harrick has a national title. Gary Williams has a national title. Rollie Massimino has a national title. Jim Boeheim has a national title.

Maybe you get the picture: Sometimes you coach long enough and get into the right situation and you're in the right place at the right time enough times and you get the title.

I happen to think Lute Olson has had a great career. I'm not saying he's not a better coach than some guys on that list.

But consider this:

His program is in a shambles. They finished 7th last season and his two best players are in the draft. He's got an entirely new coaching staff (or will, once Josh Pastner takes that job at Memphis). His top recruit is having academic issues (there is an Internet report today that says Brandon Jennings might not qualify -- I bet he does, but still ...)

Add to all that Olson is an older guy and might not coach too many more years.

And, when push comes to shove, he might leave the program right where it was when he took it over -- an also ran -- and the entire Olson era will come and go with one national title, exactly the same amount of national titles that UCLA won during the Olson era.

Think about it: During the Olson era, UCLA had Walt Hazzard, Jim Harrick, Steve Lavin and now Ben Howland. Some of that era was considered sub par by UCLA fans. Harrick had some very good seasons and one really great season. Ben Howland has had three great seasons. But if the Olson era ended today, our record for that time would be very close to Arizona's. Theirs would be better -- I bet they won more conference titles during that span and they didn't suffer the lows of Hazzard and Lavin. But we've been to four final fours during the Olson era with one national title (and an elite eight appearance). We've won at least six Pac 10 titles during that time (I know that Harrick/Lavin won three straight and Howland has won three straight).

The funniest thing is: If Olson's era ended right now, we might actually be better vis-a-vis AZ than we were when he took over. He took over when Hazzard was the coach (I think he was, if it was Farmer, the point is still true). Now, Howland is the coach.

However many years later, we're almost back where we started and though the Olson era at AZ was undeniably a great one, did it really accomplish all that much more than UCLA did during the same time period?

(Side note: Another interesting point is that Arizona will soon -- two years, three years? -- learn what we learned in '75. That it is very hard to replace a legend. Except for a season here and a season there, it took us almost 30 years to find another top coach who would last more than two years. Ask Indiana and Kentucky fans how tough it can be to replace a legend. Arizona is going to find our soon enough.)

<em>This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of BruinsNation's (BN) editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of BN's editors.</em>

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