In the middle of Ironton, running adjacent to the high school football field, there is a street named for Bob Lutz—one of the most prolific figures in the town’s history. He spent three years coaching football at Ironton St. Joseph and 39 years coaching the Ironton Fighting Tigers at Ironton High School. During his coaching career, Lutz piled up an astonishing 381 wins, making him the most winningest high school football coach of all time in Ohio. In 1979 and 1989, Lutz won state championships, and his team was state runners-up six times.
It has now been four years since Lutz announced his retirement. During this time, he moved north to Perrysburg, OH and then south to Naples, FL—his current home. What was once a five-minute drive to the football stadium is now a five-minute drive to the beach for Lutz. Many of his old players and colleagues tell stories that illustrate how he truly put the players first. Coaches were not included in team pictures because it was all about the players, so the coaching staff was photographed separately. This is the type of detail that would define Lutz’s mindset and professional approach to the game throughout his 42-year career as a football coach. We reached out to the Hall of Famer to see how his new off-field life is going.
“My sons are down here, along with my daughter and grandson. I go to the beach every now and then to walk near the ocean. I’ve only been here about three months, so I haven’t done too much yet. I’m looking forward to the winter. I’ll be in my shorts and my sandals.”
A Win for Love
“We just celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary. You know, there’s not too many of those anymore. It was September 3rd, but we celebrated a week late because my granddaughter was going on a campus visit to the University of Florida.”
“It’s very clean. There’s no industry down here. There’s a lot more produce farms, especially oranges. The rainy season is interesting because there’s a lot more rain than what I’m used to, even in Ohio. You don’t have the grime on your cars that you get in the Midwest.”
“I always told them to do everything right. If you do everything right, things will fall into place and good things will happen.”
Does he miss football?
“A little bit. The football down here is a lot different. The athletes and style of play is just something I’m not used to. But at the same time I’m not coaching, so I don’t really have to understand it all the way just yet.”
Keeping in touch with the game
“I go over and watch the local team play here. I watch Ohio State on the weekends, and I try to follow the Browns on Sundays.”