Monday, March 15, 2010

Lutz deserved one last shot

I would have given Bobby Lutz one more year.

But I will readily admit that the Charlotte 49ers’ shocking and painful collapse in the past month would make a lot of people think about firing Lutz as Charlotte 49ers’ head coach, as happened today.

I wrote a lighthearted column about Lutz and the good-luck mustache he had re-grown at UNCC students' behest a month ago, back when all was right in Lutz’s world. At the time, the 49ers were 8-2 in the Atlantic 10 and 18-6 overall. They were entering a big three-game homestand. It didn’t seem to be a question of whether they would make the NCAA tournament so much as where they would be seeded. Many tourney projections had them as high as a No.7 or 8 seed.

Little did I know that those 49ers had already begun falling off the cliff.

Charlotte lost its way, lost seven of its final eight games and, now, has lost its coach. In the 49ers’ last game – a conference tournament loss to Massachusetts at Halton Arena – the 49ers drew an embarrassing home attendance of 1,941. At one point, Lutz and his staff put six players on the court, resulting in a crucial technical foul.

Lutz got fired Monday. That’ll be expensive for a university trying to add football and watching its pennies – he was under contract through 2014.

Lutz was much better when the 49ers were in Conference USA, which was easier to recruit into and gave the 49ers some marquee home games. If you know how many teams are actually in the Atlantic 10, you’re a fairly serious college basketball junkie.

Then again, results are what matter when you’re a college basketball coach, no matter where or whom you’re playing. Given that Lutz’s 49ers hadn’t made the NCAA tournament since 2005 and that the NIT is not even a sure thing any longer, either, I’m sure he knew he was in danger.

Although I would have let Lutz have the 2010-11 season to turn it around and try one last time, I’m sure the 49ers administration would argue that they did that already, after last season’s 11-20 debacle.

This is a tough one. Lutz, athletic director Judy Rose and UNCC Chancellor Philip Dubois are all good, smart people. I like all of them. But – barring there is some bombshell out there we don’t know about, and given that this is Bobby Lutz we’re talking about I very much doubt there is – I think Lutz deserved one last shot.

Lutz released a classy statement Monday afternoon that said in part: “Our fans, especially the students who are dear to my heart, have been tremendous and a source of inspiration for me. They deserve the best and that is my hope for them…. Lastly, I've enjoyed the love and support of my family and we have wonderful memories of our times at Charlotte. In closing, it has been a privilege and pleasure to coach at UNC Charlotte, my alma mater. I have been truly blessed and will forever bleed green.”

Although the impact will be felt only regionally instead of nationally in this case, the whole thing reminds me of Jake Delhomme’s recent departure. Delhomme was the face of the Panthers; Lutz the face of the 49ers. Both had some great times, but both had awful final seasons, and both ultimately got fired by the employers they were so loyal to for so long.

43 comments:

Anonymous said...

Classic Fowler - Hey you dumbA.. Bobby just had his one last shot.....

Anonymous said...

He could always become an Observer Columnist, there are obviously few requirements.

Anonymous said...

Can we fire Scott?

Anonymous said...

And who do you suppose we'll get as a coach? The guy from JC Smith? Who wants to coach in the Atlantic 10? Good grief!

Anonymous said...

Go Heels!

Anonymous said...

Nice article Scott. Lutz gave us some good years and he will be missed. However, it was time for him to move on. I hope he will land somewhere and be re-energized with a new challenge and fresh start. That's exactly what the Niners needed- a fresh start. I'm glad they cleaned house so someone with new ideas and motivations can take the good players we have to the top of the A-10.

Anonymous said...

Lutz had his last shot. He had an excellent team this year, but his brain dead offensive scheme neutralized all of his weapons. He's a good guy, though. Hope he has better luck somewhere else.

Anonymous said...

Hate to see someone with that much passion for this team and school struggle but it was time for a change. The offense has struggled for years with the same issues while at the same time, we continue to lose on average 2 players per year to other schools. Often these players shine elsewhere: Michael Gerrity and Vicncent Grier are 2 quick names that come to mind. The end of the year was clearly due to coaching mishaps: not fouling when up 3 with less than 10 to go which is followed by the point guard running out the clock with a chance to win AND the 6 men on the court debacle. He unfortuntely admitted that he was puzzled by these actions so unfortunately he is responsible for today's firing. Good luck elsewhere and I am sure he will land on his feet. In the meantime, GO NINERS.

Anonymous said...

Lutz had to go! It's a good move for the program and the school. Lutz was always subscribed to the "Live and die by the 3 point shot" philosphy and most times, he died.

Now our school needs to find a dynamic person who can get disinfranchised fans, like me, back in the building. The marketing department also needs to start working overtime to build the program to get it in the right place for football in 2014.

Anonymous said...

lots of negative people out there today...y'all look outside...its beautiful....

Anonymous said...

Not sure where the animosity is from but...Lutz seemed like a class act off the court and was a great representative of the university IMO.

However I have always been opposed to his live by the 3 die by the 3 coaching philosophy and the lack of discipline that prevailed in the team for years (not to mention basic basketball fundamentals). Ever since the back to back collapses in the 2003/2004 NCAA tourneys (Texas Tech and NC State I believe) I have not been a fan.

This coaching change has renewed my interest in the program and for the first time in many years....I'm excited about Charlotte 49er basketball.

Anonymous said...

I agree with others- Bobby had his last chance. He just never seemed to adapt to the conference change. His teams used to get stronger as the season progressed, but not in the last few years.

Fran McCaffery from Siena would be an excellent choice as coach. He's a fine coach and would be able to recruit A-10 territory very well, I believe.

Anonymous said...

Fran McCafffrey is not going to want to leave Siena only to take a job at a second rate program like UNCC. They would do much better to hire a young assistant, someone who doesn't mind trying to build a program where there is little tradition and little fan support. Being passed over by the NIT shows just what an afterthought "UNC" Charlotte is

Anonymous said...

Give Wojo at Duke a chance! Awesome player who has bided his time at Duke as Asst. Coach for 10 years. Learned from the best. Discipline. Defense. Hard nosed. let's turn UNC Charlotte into a Butler....nationally respected annual Big Dance participant.

Anonymous said...

BUZZ PETERSON!

They said on the SoCon Championship game that he still lives in Charlotte....

Anonymous said...

Good piece and well said.

The comparison to Jake is a good one and even goes further. Judy and Dubois gave Lutz and extra year after last year's 11 win season, I assume because of all the injuries and departure of starting PG as the season began.

That is a MAJOR show of support, which gave him 4 more years on his contract.

Then you fire the guy after winning 19 games!?!?!? Hello!>!>

Anonymous said...

Bobby's been a part of my team ever since I was a student there. He was a class guy for the community as well as the University. I'll miss him, although I did question some of his decision-making and coaching philosophies. Overall, I won't know how I feel about this move until I know who his replacement will be.

Anonymous said...

Just wait, it's almost football season. We'll show you.

Anonymous said...

Fran McCaffery makes more money at Siena than he would at Charlotte - Wojo makes more in 6 months than he would at Charlotte - better get a little closer to reality for your pick. Best wishes Bobby and Charlotte.

Anonymous said...

You are wrong again Fowler!!!!!!! Six players on the court at one time! Kinda stupid on coaches AND players not to even notice. Overall problem is also at least partly Judy Rose"s fault for getting UNCC into a lower quality conference of NCAA basketball. I have seen then in Sunbelt, Conference USA, and the Atlantic 10 was a major move backwards! Judy should have seen that. Step up to the plate woman YOU BLEW THAT!!

Anonymous said...

Now who is going to fire Judy Rose for giving him that fat contract after last year's 11 win season?

Anonymous said...

In related news, Scott Fowler also believes we should give "one last shot" to Derrick Coleman, George Seifert and Rae Carruth.

Anonymous said...

Those of you who think it is the fault of Judy Rose that we are in the A10 have not done your research or are misinformed. Charlotte is in the A10 because most conferences want teams with football. The previous chancellors did some great things for the university but failed miserably by not starting a football program. Thanks to the current administration, that has changed. I only hope it is not a change that is to late.

Anonymous said...

Bobby probably did need to go but I firmly believe Judy should be history as well. Judy was a major reason Melvin left for A&M and due her dragging on football for years we are stuck in the A-10. She is not proactive but reactive. Judy has done nothing for this program. Mullins built a solid foundation and we have been heading for the bottom since Judy gained total control.

Anonymous said...

I too hate the A10 and I believe simply being in that lousy conference had some bearing on Lutz having a bad run recently and subsequently getting the ax. I really hate the A10, absolutely no synergy for UNCC, might as well be in the a D3 conference with Idaho and South Dakota small colleges. Did I say no synergy? The A10 is terrible, way worse than Bobby Lutz every was. And he really wasn't that good. A good guy, sure, but kind of an average to maybe a slightly above average D1 coach. Did I forget to say how much I hate the A10 conference? And people, please no more former ACC basketball players for coaches. It shows how unprepared you are for this kind of discussion. The same folks who want MJ to suddenly change the name of the Bobcats.

Anonymous said...

Everytime some gets fired, Scott always says, should have given him one more chance. If they fire him, who will write that for him?

Anonymous said...

he was the perfect coach. Where are they going to find a coach in the middle of acc country?

Anonymous said...

UNCC will have to pay more that $200K-plus to get the kind of coach it needs to make it to the big time. Lutz apparently was a nice guy but nice doesn't feed the bulldog. UNCC is now established enough that it should be able to land a coach who has been a successful head coach previously.

Anonymous said...

Scott should get 1 more chance to write something good.

Anonymous said...

Bring Bobby Knight out of retirement.

UNCC 92 Go Niners!!

Anonymous said...

Whether or not Lutz should have been fired ... this year or last year or whenever, one thing is blatantly obvious -- namely, Lutz was doing a far better job than Judy Rose. Until she leaves -- hopefully by near future firing, UNCC can kiss goodbye any hopes of having a quality athletic program overall! Bottom line: IF it was good enough for Lutz, it should have been good enough for Rose a long time ago.

Anonymous said...

This move should have been made a few years ago. Amyone that knows anything about basketball can tell by watching his teams play that he is clueless offensivly. No offesive scheme at all. He picks one guy that can shoot the three ball and gives them the green light. For those who say the A10 is the reason for his decline are wrong. There are plenty talented teams in the A10: Temple, Dayton, Richmond, Xavier, Rhode Island. Don't make excuses for him. Look forward to hiring a new coach and getting UNCC back to where we should be.

Anonymous said...

Lutz made over $600k last year. I have heard the new coach will make a similar amount. The talk about $200k is a joke. His contract that was posted online showed a guaranteed amount of over $400k a year if he didn't do anything on his incentives.

Anonymous said...

The A-10 was the nation's 6th best conference, ahead of the Pac 10. It is consistently one of the top 8. i don't think C-USA ever topped the so called BCS leagues

Anonymous said...

Did you just take your "Jake Delhomme deserved another chance" article and do a search/replace on all existences of Jake Delhomme with Bobby Lutz?

You're 0-2, Fowler.

John said...

I always wondered why the Observer columnists seemed to give Lutz a pass, no matter how mediocre his performance. Seems the UNCC athletic director woke up before you did, Scott.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone else catch what Dubois said and the fact he was wrong? He stated that in not making the NCAA or NIT 3 out of 5 years that we were not in the top 1/3 in the country. Several conferences have automatic bids for the team that win their tournaments. That means even though they may not be in the top teams, they get in and better teams don't.

Anonymous said...

I agree that Bobby deserved one more year. He has some good young talent here and he deserved the chance to make a run with them. He has been a great representative of the University.

Anonymous said...

UNCC is a fine school - academically. Athletically, it's jammed in-between Chapel Hell, Dook, Davidson, Wake Up, Clempson - plus those two junior colleges in Raleigh, NC and Columbia, SC.

It's surprising anyone with half a jump shot would even give UNCC a second look ... When it comes to recruiting, UNCC is clearly in no-man's land.

Stretching the athletic budget with foosball won't solve the myriad of UNCC's problems either.

Beer Man said...

He had is second chance like 3/4 years ago when he was "All in" - they did OK that year, and he got a few more years, with really no result. We were supposed to be a marquee team the A10 was counting, and we've been a dud every year.

Anonymous said...

A-10 & ACC Comparison

(1) Conference (A-10) Rated #7 (ACC) Rated # 6

(2) Sweet Sixteen (A-10) one team left (ACC) one team left

(3) NIT (A-10) one team left (ACC) one team left

(4) Distant between teams (A-10) Charlotte – Richmond 311 miles
(ACC) Miami – FL ST 500 miles /BC – Mary 450

(5) Recruiting (A-10) Heart of Conference is in middle of 50% USA population NE players are guaranteed 20 games in 4 years, within 2 hrs of their family

(ACC) Two teams get the McD players guaranteeing them one game in four years in front of their family Carolina kids sit the bench so the two schools can protect their McD image

Anonymous said...

A Few More ACC Comparisons

Basketball

Over the last 5 years among the (6 BCS) conferences: Number of teams in the Sweet sixteen, the ACC is in a distant 6th place

During the same period in the Final Four between the ACC and Conference USA it is almost even

This year between A-10 and ACC they are about even, so the ACC is closer to the A-10 than the Big 10

Football

Everyone knows the ACC is a joke, falling behind the MWC & WAC. The ACC is closer to Conference USA than the SEC or Big 10

If the ACC are wise they are sitting behind closed doors planning for when the Big 10 takes BC & Maryland during the next round of conference expansion

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