Nick Saban having a statue at Alabama after only 43 wins in Tuscaloosa, Ala., begs the question: What’s taking Arizona so long to erect one of Hall of Famer Lute Olson?
Other than the meaningful statue of John “Button” Salmon outside McKale Center, the Wildcats offer a statue of two bobcats playing with each other. Why not a statue of Olson flanked on each side by a likeness of Sean Elliott and Steve Kerr — the father, son and holy toast of the town?
Other long overdue peripheral objectives that should be on the desk of athletic director Greg Byrne at this very moment:
- It’s time to give Jason Terry his just due by retiring No. 31. Terry, who received illegal benefits from agents as a senior, repaid Arizona the $45,363 it forfeited from the 1999 NCAA tournament. Terry was made ineligible for jersey retirement and induction to the UA Sports Hall of Fame. The school supposedly has petitioned the Pac-10 to retire his jersey, but how serious is Arizona after 12 years and counting? We know how serious Terry is to Arizona’s image as a marketing tool. He is one of 11 NBA players this season who are former Wildcats. We also know how serious Terry is to giving back to the community. Terry comes from an impoverished background in Seattle so he knows how important it is to not be passive in our society. Retiring Terry’s number is a no-brainer for Byrne, who thankfully is a progressive athletic director. With Terry’s effervescent personality, having him on stage at McKale Center being honored with his jersey number retirement, the nation — through the ESPN cameras — will take note.
- Get Coniel Norman at midcourt in front of a standing ovation of a packed McKale Center. How many leading scorers of a program become destitute on the streets, wondering if or when they’ll get another paycheck? Norman has what appears to be an untouchable Arizona record — a career average scoring mark of 23.9 points a game from 1972-74. His name is synonymous to Arizona’s development as a basketball school. His story is not only touching but educational, especially for players of this generation who believe a ticket to a sustained NBA career can easily be punched.
- It’s ridiculous that UA career rushing leader Trung Canidate is not on Arizona’s Ring of Fame in Arizona Stadium. Even more silly is the fact Tedy Bruschi was left off the jersey-number retirement ceremony last November. OK, OK, the official criteria is a player must have won a national player of the year award or earn induction into the College Football Hall of Fame. The school should modify it to include consensus All-Americans who established a career NCAA record while at Arizona. Bruschi was a consensus All-American who left Arizona with 52 sacks, which tied a career Division I-A record. Moreover, Bruschi has that star appeal, similar to Terry, that would help Arizona’s image with a much-publicized ceremony.
Be practical, Arizona, not stodgy. This is not Cooperstown.