Arizona Basketball

Arizona Wildcats behind the mic: Olson influenced numerous future broadcasters between UA, Iowa


The Des Moines (Iowa) Register today published a story written by a former Hawkeye coached by Lute Olson lauding the Hall of Fame coach’s impact on his players to the extent many of them became broadcasters.

Olson will attend tonight’s Iowa State-Iowa game at the Carver-Hawkeye Arena, where he coached for nine years before making Arizona a national power from 1983-2007.

“Lute’s media legacy extends far beyond his coaching or interviews,” writes Jon Darsee in the Register report. “When you consider the number of his former players who became broadcasters, he is in a class of his own.”

Lute Olson was a recent guest of the Pac-12 Network during an Arizona game and he and former player Matt Muehlebach talked Wildcat hoops (Pac-12 Network screen shot)

Lute Olson looked like a natural like many of his former players when he was a recent guest of the Pac-12 Network during an Arizona game (Pac-12 Network screen shot)

Darsee, a member of Iowa’s Final Four team coached by Olson, mentions four of his teammates became broadcasters. Olson’s former Arizona players currently number six behind the mic (list of all former athletes, coaches and Arizona graduates who are broadcasting is below).

Olson’s Iowa contingent on the air: Kevin Boyle is a long-time Northern Iowa radio analyst, Bobby Hanson has a similar role for Hawkeyes radio, and Steve Carfino became broadcaster of professional basketball in Australia following his career as a player there. Another player, Mark Gannon, was a broadcaster in the 1990’s.

Olson’s Arizona contingent behind the mic:

Player Network Role
Sean Elliott Spurs/Fox Sports Analyst
**Kenny Lofton Fox Sports West Dodgers commentator
Matt Muehlebach Pac-12 Network College basketball analyst
Miles Simon ESPN College basketball analyst
Tom Tolbert KNBR San Francisco Talk show host
Corey Williams ESPN/Pac-12 Network/FS1 College basketball analyst

Luke Walton tried his hand at broadcasting, like his dad, with Fox Sports 1 very briefly, but he turned to coaching instead. That became a smart career move with him making waves as the Los Angeles Lakers head coach.

Steve Kerr was also a respected NBA commentator for TBS and Final Four broadcaster for CBS before taking the Golden State Warriors coaching position in 2014.

Darsee writes that he “randomly Googled other high-profile coaches overlapping Lute’s Hall of Fame career — guys like Bobby Knight, Dean Smith, Jim Boeheim and Mike Krzyzewski. As far as I can tell, only Coach K comes remotely close, producing four broadcasters.”

Darsee went on to write about Tom Tolbert’s comment that Olson attracted players who can think on their feet.

“Not everyone was a McDonald’s All-American out of high school like Sean Elliott,” he told Darsee. “Steve Kerr and I were not highly recruited but we could improvise when a play broke down and that’s a useful skill in broadcasting.”

Overall, 21 former Arizona athletes are broadcasters as well as three former coaches. A total of 12 Arizona alums who were not athletes at the school have advanced to become sports broadcasters. All of the 36 are listed below:

ARIZONA PRODUCTS BEHIND THE MIC

ATHLETES (21)

Baseball (3)

Player Network Role
Scott Erickson Pac-12 Network Analyst
Joe Magrane MLB Network Analyst
J.T. Snow Pac-12 Network Analyst

Football (7)
*Also played basketball

Player Network Role
Tedy Bruschi ESPN NFL studio analyst
*Kelvin Eafon KCUB (1290-AM) Pregame and postgame analyst
Glenn Howell Tucson News Now (Channel 13) Guest analyst
Lamont Lovett KCUB (1290-AM) UA football commentator
Josh Miller Pittsburgh CBS affiliate Radio show host
Glenn Parker Pac-12 Networks College football analyst
Antonio Pierce ESPN NFL studio analyst

Tedy Bruschi is in his xxth season as an ESPN NFL analyst (ESPN screen shot)

Tedy Bruschi is in his seventh season as an ESPN NFL analyst (ESPN screen shot)

Men’s basketball (6)
**Also played baseball

Player Network Role
Sean Elliott Spurs/Fox Sports Analyst
**Kenny Lofton Fox Sports West Dodgers commentator
Matt Muehlebach Pac-12 Network College basketball analyst
Miles Simon ESPN College basketball analyst
Tom Tolbert KNBR San Francisco Talk show host
Corey Williams ESPN/Pac-12 Network/FS1 College basketball analyst

Softball (4)

Player Network Role
Jenny Dalton-Hill ESPN Analyst
Jennie Finch ESPN Analyst
Kenzie Fowler Pac-12 Network Analyst
Leah O'Brien-Amico ESPN Analyst

Swimming (1)

Player Network Role
Amy Van Dyken-Rouen Pac-12 Network Analyst

COACHES (3)

Person Network Role
Jerry Kindall Big Ten Network Baseball analyst
Andy Lopez Pac-12 Network Baseball analyst
Kevin O'Neill Pac-12 Networks/Fox Studio analyst
Arizona graduates Ryan Hansen (left) and Ryan Radtke broadcast the Arizona-Butler game in Las Vegas recently for the Wildcats' IMG Radio Network (Robert Scot/VirlVideo)

Arizona graduates Ryan Hansen (left) and Ryan Radtke broadcast the Arizona-Butler game in Las Vegas recently for the Wildcats’ IMG Radio Network (Robert Scot/VirlVideo)

JOURNALISTS/UA STAFF (12)

Person Network Role
Zach Clark ESPN Tucson Sports radio host
Alex Flanagan NBC/NFL Network Sideline reporter/anchor
Anthony Gimino KCUB (1290-AM) Pregame and postgame analyst
Jeff Goodman ESPN College basketball reporter
Ryan Hansen IMG Network UA basketball commentator
Dan Hicks NBC Golf play-by-play
Mike Luke KCUB (1290-AM) Sports talk show host
Jody Oehler Phoenix Fox Sports radio Sports talk show host
Steve Quis ESPN College basketball play-by-play
Ryan Radtke IMG/Fox Sports radio Nevada Wolfpack and Reno Aces play-by-play
Arnie Spanier Fox Sports Radio Host
Todd Walsh Fox Sports Arizona Host/reporter

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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.

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