Sept. 24, 2004
Happy birthday, baby! Lute Olson recently turned 70, and the guy looks like he's 40!
The Arizona basketball coach is good-looking, in great shape and sharp as ever on the sideline. He has it all, and he hasn't missed a beat in the recruiting wars either ... just ask some of his rivals! Look at some of the kids he has signed up and notice the enthusiasm and enjoyment he has in recruiting.
The recent addition of Marcus Williams of Washington state via a verbal commitment shows Olson is on his game. What a year for kids coming out of the Seattle area: Marcus Williams (Arizona), Micah Downs (Kansas), Mitch Johnson (Stanford) and Terrence Williams (Louisville). It must break the heart of Washington coach Lorenzo Romar to see these kids leaving the state!
The bottom line is that Lute Olson has built one of the great programs in America. Think about some of the numbers -- 20 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, 17 straight seasons with 20 or more wins, four trips to the Final Four (plus a fifth while at Iowa), a national championship in 1997, 10 Pac-10 titles and a career record of 519-157.
He has been a Frank Lloyd Wright coach, a true architect, a builder, taking a program when it was in the depths of despair and turning it around. Mike Stoops is trying to do the same thing with Arizona football. Something tells me Stoops will emulate what Olson has done, and the football coach should get the secrets from the master.
The beats goes on for Olson. He is my idol, because I'm 65 and I act like I'm 12, and I see what he's like at 70, baby! He has such enthusiasm for life ... congratulations on the big birthday, Lute! The fans in Arizona are lucky to have a man of his stature.
Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in December 1979. Send him a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.