Lute Olson and Me

During the (rare) occasions that I see my readers in person, a common sentiment I hear is “you talk about Chipotle way too much!” Well, I guess I am sorry, but I write about the things I love.

Fortunately, I don’t have bad break-ups more than once a year, so I need some material to plug on this blog in order to keep it afloat (and yes, I realize that it is barely afloat, but fuck off if you’re going to give me a guilt trip). Unfortunately, my fat ass eats Chipotle like 14 times a week, so it is usually what I am doing when it comes time for blog posting.

That won’t be the case today. Aside from my obsession with the Mexican Subway, my other favorite things in life are as follows: Cable Guy and Arizona Basketball. While I don’t blog about either topic nearly enough, I was introduced at one point last year with the following intro on my friends’ blog:

Without further ado, this week’s entry comes from one of our long time cronies that we met back in St. Paul in the hall that is Brady. Three contests that you will lose against him: 1) A drinking contest, 2) An Arizona Basketball trivia contest and 3) anything Chipotle contest.

Given this accurate introduction, it comes as no surprise that I write this post while doing two of the above; drinking some red wine and lamenting the Lute Olson era at Arizona.

Lute Olson.  My mentor in life.

Lute Olson. My mentor in life.

You see, it finally just set in to me that my hero, my idol, my silver fox, my coach, my second dad, my source of inspiration, my surrogate grandfather, my rock, my COACH. The man who took the Arizona Wildcats from a basketball joke to the most successful basketball program in the past 25 years, is retiring.

The stats don’t lie, Lute Olson turned Arizona basketball into a nationally renown powerhouse. I basically grew up with Lute at the helm of the Wildcats, and was in Tucson, Arizona, visiting my awesome family several times while I was growing up.

It was during the 1988 final four season that I realized my love for the Wildcats. That was the team that had Steve Kerr and Sean Elliot, and I remember my little cousins Mike and Matt running through their Tucson house, yelling “Teeeeeve Terrr!!” while cheering on their favorite player. These kids were barely old enough to talk, yet they were already declaring their love for the Wildcats.

I have been to Tucson at least 10 times in my life, and each time I grew more and more enamored with the Wildcats and the legacy that was being cultivated by Lute Olson. In the 6th grade, my first pair of boxers were purchased. They had the wildcat logo all over them, and I loved those damn boxers!

It wasn’t until my junior year of college that I actually made it to an Arizona Wildcats basketball game. I was visiting my cousin Tyler in Tucson, and he was able to get us tickets to the McKale center (not an easy task since there isn’t much else to do in Tucson), and we watched my beloved Cats get throttled by the Oregon Ducks. Not a good Lute Olson cherry busting, but still a great experience nonetheless.

Personal experiences aside, there is no doubt that Lute Olson’s impact on Arizona basketball was profound and undeniable. The stats don’t lie:

  • Career Record: 589-187 in 24 seasons at Arizona
  • 1997 NCAA champions
  • 4 Final Fours (1988, 1994, 1997, 2001)
  • 24 Consecutive NCAA appearances
  • 13 First Round Draft Picks
  • Great NBA Players: Sean Elliott, Steve Kerr, Damon Stoudemire, Mike Bibby, Michael Dickerson, Jason Terry, Gilbert Arenas, Luke Walton, Richard Jefferson and Andre Igoudala.

Beyond all of that, he gave me something to look forward to. Whether I was a normal curly haired kid in elementary school, a dork in high school, an outspoken college kid (amazing how many UST bastards liked Duke), or a basketball passionate post-graduate, I always had Arizona basketball to look forward to every winter; even more every March.

That is why I am writing this post. As I was sitting at my computer, reading through various RSS feeds that I had caught while I was away on business travel, it finally set in for me; Lute is gone. Gandhalf the White is no longer. The most consistent thing I have ever known in my life is gone. I really don’t know what will happen to the Arizona basketball program. I think about all of this, and it started to get a little dusty in the room.

God bless you Lute. You are a class act.

About Jeff Sauer

I started blogging in the year 2000, and go in spurts of inspiration followed by long dormancy. I love writing, and your comments keep me going, so comment!

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  1. Geez jeff, all this tribute and he is STILL ALIVE??? Quit your crying!
    People have to retire at some point

  2. Point taken… But it did come as a pretty big shock!

  3. Jeff, sweetie, I realize that this wasn’t the point of your post, but what’s w/ the “I was a dork in High School?” You weren’t a dork! People LOVED you! You gotta stop misrepresentin’ 🙂

  4. I was totally a dork! Plus, how else am I supposed to live out my fantasy of being the dork in HS who started his own high technology business, made a ton of money and married a supermodel? That story won’t be nearly as good if the truth comes out that I was merely an average HS kid who people liked? Thanks for reading, Cindi!

  5. And yes, you completely missed the point of this story. And yes, I wrote that story about 4 glasses of wine into the night and was probably a little more “emo” than I should have been.

  6. Okay, okay, if it makes the plot better for the ‘based-on-a-true-story/after-school-special’, you may represent yourself as a dork… Who are you gonna have play you in the movie? 🙂 I enjoy reading your blogs… I just wish you’d write more of them!