Why Steve Lutz’s Texas ties make him a fit at Oklahoma State

Why Steve Lutz’s Texas ties make him a fit at Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State's new men's basketball coach has deep Texas roots and that's always been important to the Cowboys in a variety of sports, but particularly basketball.

Berry Tramel

By Berry Tramel

| Apr 3, 2024, 10:30am CDT

Berry Tramel

By Berry Tramel

Apr 3, 2024, 10:30am CDT

 

Oklahoma State has hired a basketball coach, Steve Lutz, who comes to Stillwater via Western Kentucky. But though Lutz earned his coaching chops as an assistant at Creighton and Purdue, his deep Texas ties are what makes him attractive to OSU.

Jenni Carlson and I discuss that and more. (This conversation has been edited for clarity and length):

Jenni Carlson: What do we know about Lutz?

Berry Tramel: We don’t know why it took so long to hire Lutz from Western Kentucky. We don’t know how he’ll do, but we do know how his teams have played and the type of success they’ve had. 

There are things to like and there are things to question. I think the thing that makes Lutz the most attractive to OSU is his Southwest ties. He’s got deep Texas roots and that’s always been important to Oklahoma State in a variety of sports, but particularly basketball. Born in San Antonio, raised in San Antonio, Ranger junior college as a student. And then goes to Texas Lutheran and Incarnate Word there in San Antonio.

Sort of got his real chops at Creighton with Greg McDermott and then at Purdue with Matt Painter, and finally gets the head coaching job at a pretty advanced age, 48 or 49 years old at Texas A&M Corpus Christi. 

Jenni Carlson: I don’t know if I like you saying advanced age is 48, by the way. I’m a little hurt by that comment.

Berry Tramel: I apologize. As soon as I said it, I thought, what have I done?

Jenni Carlson: But for a head coach, yes, getting your first head coaching job in your late 40s doesn’t usually happen like that. Even though he is sort of a late arrival in the head coaching ranks, he’s been three places for three years, Texas A&MCorpus Christi for two years, and then Western Kentucky for a year. He won the conference each of his three years at those places, got to the NCAA tournament. He won in places that he had to go in and do some things to get going right away. As a head coach, he’s had success. To me, that’s important. I did a checklist when Oklahoma State fired Mike Boynton and said, one of those things was success as a head coach. And Steve Lutz, while the resume as a head coach is short, he has had success. 

Berry Tramel: You’re right. Three NCAA tournaments, three conference tournament championships, but, year one in the Southland Conference at A&M Corpus Christi they go .500, year one at Western Kentucky, they go .500 in the league. So it’s not that he’s necessarily had a high achieving team. We say that March is all that matters in college basketball. The postseason is what drives this sport. Steve Lutz has produced in the postseason.

Jenni Carlson: What about this guy is at the top of your intrigue scale?

Berry Tramel: Everybody is talking about his pace of play, right? Texas A&MCorpus Christi ranked 55th in the nation in pace of play last season. Now may not sound high to you, but there’s 360 or something college basketball teams. So we’re talking about a guy that’s in the upper  80 percentile of pace of play, goes to Western Kentucky this year ranks third in the nation. So one of the fastest-moving basketball teams in America.

Will that play well in Stillwater? Is that what the 21st-century crowd wants? That’s what a lot of people say they want. And when you think of where he came from — Purdue — it’s sort of putting his own brand on his teams.

Jenni Carlson: I’ll go back to what we were talking about before: A guy that coached as an assistant in college basketball for nearly three decades before he becomes a head coach. That’s a question that I’m looking forward to diving into with him. Why the delay? Why not become a head coach earlier? You know, Oklahoma hired a football coach a couple of years ago who was a longtime assistant. It happens, but I’m just interested sort of the why of that for Steve Lutz. Why wait until you’ve been an assistant for so long to finally take that step?

Berry Tramel: I’ve got to believe one possibility is that he was waiting on a pretty good job and got to be 48, 49 years old and realized, “Hey, I better take one.” He realized “I better go somewhere and win and then get the chance.” Eventually Steve Lutz said, you know what, I’ll give Corpus a try. And he turned that into Western and he turned Western into OSU.

Jenni Carlson: That’s a pretty good turnaround. You know, three years as a head coach and you suddenly you’re in a Power Five league, arguably the best basketball league. I know what the Big 12 did in the NCAA Tournament this year brings that into question, but still a chance to, you know, go into this high really the highest level of college basketball coaching as a head coach.

What’s the biggest unknown about this guy as he becomes the Cowboys head coach?

Berry Tramel: I think it’s 100 percent the portal. He’s not been a major power conference head coach. He’s been on the other end. When you look at what’s happening in college basketball, the new fertile recruiting ground are the mid-majors. Look at the Cowboys this past season. Javon Smalls is the best player on the team. He came from East Carolina. You look at Alabama in the Final Four. They got guys from Ohio and North Dakota State leading the way. That’s the place you go get ballplayers and can Steve Lutz do that? 

Sellout Crowd production team

Producer: Jacquelyn Musgrove

Creative Director: Michael Lane

Social media: Bobby Howard

Director of Content: Mike Sherman

Director of Audience/Sponsor Fulfillment: Jay Spear

Subscribe on YouTube | Spotify | Apple Podcasts | Amazon Music

Share with your crowd
Berry Tramel is a 45-year veteran of Oklahoma journalism, having spent 13 years at the Norman Transcript and 32 years at The Oklahoman. He has been named Oklahoma Sportswriter of the Year by the National Sports Media Association. Born and raised in Norman, Tramel grew up reading four newspapers a day and began his career at age 17. His first assignment was the Lexington-Elmore City high school football game, and he’s enjoyed the journey ever since, having covered NBA Finals and Rose Bowls and everything in between. Tramel and his wife, Tricia, were married in 1980 and live in Norman near their daughter, son-in-law and three granddaughters. Tramel can be reached at 405-760-8080 or at [email protected].

The latest from Sellout Crowd

  • SGA for MVP? The case for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, ‘the best player on the floor’

  • Mr. Cowboy: How John Smith said goodbye to Oklahoma State wrestling

  • There’s time for NBA Playoff concerns. Now is the time for Thunder appreciation

  • Oklahoma's Kelly Maxwell (28) pitches during a college softball game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and BYU at Love's Field in Norman, Okla., Saturday, April 13, 2024. Oklahoma won 7-3.

    Why OU’s pitching staff would be sunk without Kelly Maxwell

  • Oct 7, 2023; Dallas, Texas, USA; Oklahoma Sooners defensive lineman Da'Jon Terry (95) and defensive lineman Jordan Kelley (88) and linebacker Jaren Kanak (7) celebrate during the game between the Texas Longhorns and the Oklahoma Sooners at the Cotton Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

    Another sign the SEC era is upon us: Sooners’ practice-field trash talking

The latest from Sellout Crowd

  • SGA for MVP? The case for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, ‘the best player on the floor’

  • Mr. Cowboy: How John Smith said goodbye to Oklahoma State wrestling

  • There’s time for NBA Playoff concerns. Now is the time for Thunder appreciation

  • Oklahoma's Kelly Maxwell (28) pitches during a college softball game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and BYU at Love's Field in Norman, Okla., Saturday, April 13, 2024. Oklahoma won 7-3.

    Why OU’s pitching staff would be sunk without Kelly Maxwell

  • Oct 7, 2023; Dallas, Texas, USA; Oklahoma Sooners defensive lineman Da'Jon Terry (95) and defensive lineman Jordan Kelley (88) and linebacker Jaren Kanak (7) celebrate during the game between the Texas Longhorns and the Oklahoma Sooners at the Cotton Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

    Another sign the SEC era is upon us: Sooners’ practice-field trash talking