Opinion by Greg Hansen: Razing of Roz breaks up family

2007-04-21T00:00:00Z Opinion by Greg Hansen: Razing of Roz breaks up familyOpinion by Greg Hansen Arizona Daily Star
April 21, 2007 12:00 am  • 

The phone at Jim Rosborough's Oro Valley home rang incessantly Friday morning. Luke Walton. Justin Wessel, Jack Murphy.

A star. A role-player. A manager.

Such is the sketch of Rosborough's 18 seasons on Arizona's basketball staff. He hit to all fields. He was everybody's friend, the foremost go-to guy in elite basketball programs.

Roz had one title — associate head coach — but in truth he had a dozen roles that went beyond the job description. He ran the office. He ran the summer camps. He ran the academic program. He was a media relations superstar. He prepared game plans for the biggest games. He was Mr. Loose Ends, always on-call.

On Thursday, Lute Olson decided he no longer had a place on his on-court coaching staff for Roz. There are new rules. No longer will Arizona basketball be a family. It will be a business.

Talk about the end of the innocence.

Some say it's about time. Others will insist Olson is desperate to win big again, willing to do anything, even if it means separating himself from a loyal associate who helped him to Final Fours at Iowa and Arizona.

Kevin O'Neill, a former UA assistant, is a possible replacement. Should the loud and indelicate career job-hopper get in someone's face perhaps it will make the soft Wildcats tougher. Who knows? This mix of 21st century UA players didn't respond to any of Olson's tactics last season.

"I'm not going to be bitter," Roz said. "I'm not going to lash out at anybody. I love the UA and I love Tucson."

He paused to look out a living room window to the majestic view of Pusch Ridge. He shook his head and was quiet for a moment.

"A few weeks ago, Lute told me my coaching job was secure.

"At 1:30 Thursday afternoon, he asked me to move to an administrative role. That's not what I plan to do."

There won't be much, if any, public reaction from former UA players and staff members. The three men I reached Friday all said essentially the same thing: I really like Roz but beyond that I won't speak on the record.

Such is the sway of Olson. Such is the $16 million-a-year industry, a monster, Olson has built from the ground up. Many of us have worshipped and fed the monster.

But now, for the first time, the monster is insatiably hungry and it has begun to eat its own.

Even UA athletic director Jim Livengood, who cannot long stay in business if Olson's revenue stream is cut, was powerless to save Roz.

Roz was expendable because the other assistants were not. Josh Pastner, the inexhaustible 24/7 recruiter who knows prominent basketball names and faces all over the globe, cannot possibly be pushed out.

Miles Simon, the only minority assistant on the team, is untouchable.

Two years ago, Olson asked Roz to move to an administrative role so that Simon and Reggie Geary could join Pastner as on-court coaches. Roz was reluctant then as he is now.

When some prominent former Wildcats appealed to Olson — asking him to reconsider — it was Geary who essentially took the fall and, months later, left the Wildcat basketball family altogether.

But now Arizona has put two disappointing seasons on the books.

It has been swept by former walk-overs Washington State and USC.

It has been embarrassed on network TV by North Carolina and UCLA.

In the college hoops industry, something was sure to give. Or someone.

The price for success has gone up.

At 62, Roz isn't destitute. He has fully qualified for his state pension and has earned a six-figure salary for almost a decade.

His wife, Kim, owns an interior designing firm. Their two grown children, Greg and Jon, live out-of-state.

If he leaves the UA, Roz wouldn't have much difficulty getting an assistant's role at a school eager to tap into his three decades of coaching success. Who isn't hiring a people person with four Final Fours on his résumé?

For now, however, the bill for several notable recruiting mistakes and an unusually soft group of players has come due. Jim Rosborough picked up the tab.

33 years of Roz

Jim Rosborough's career track:

• 1996-2007 UA associate head coach (Lute Olson)

• 1989-1996 UA assistant coach (Olson)

• 1986-1989 head coach, Northern Illinois University

• 1985-1986 assistant coach at Tulsa (J.D. Barnett)

• 1983-85 assistant to Iowa athletic director Bump Elliott, color commentator for Hawkeyes basketball

• 1974-1983 assistant coach at Iowa (Olson)

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Pac-12 basketball standings

  Conference Overall
Arizona 0 0 0 0.000 12 1 0 0.923
Washington 0 0 0 0.000 11 0 0 1.000
California 0 0 0 0.000 10 2 0 0.833
Arizona State 0 0 0 0.000 9 5 0 0.643
Oregon 0 0 0 0.000 9 3 0 0.750
Utah 0 0 0 0.000 9 2 0 0.818
UCLA 0 0 0 0.000 8 4 0 0.667
Colorado 0 0 0 0.000 7 4 0 0.636
USC 0 0 0 0.000 7 4 0 0.636
Stanford 0 0 0 0.000 7 3 0 0.700
Oregon State 0 0 0 0.000 7 3 0 0.700
Washington State 0 0 0 0.000 5 6 0 0.455

AP Top 25

Pac-12 basketball schedule

Teams Date Time
Harvard at
Arizona State
12/28 46-56
Cal State-Bakersfield at
12/28 46-56
Cal-Davis at
Washington State
12/28 46-56
12/28 46-56
Stony Brook at
12/28 46-56
Cal-Irvine at
12/29 9:00 pm
Arkansas-Pine Bluff at
12/29 9:00 pm
Carroll (Mont.) at
12/30 7:30 pm
UC-Santa Barbara at
Oregon State
12/30 7:30 pm
Vermont at
12/30 9:30 pm
Washington State at
1/2 1:00 pm
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