Just a week after

Lucent

(LU)

slashed its earnings outlook, the ax is falling. Harry Bosco, president of Lucent's optical-networking group, is leaving his job, and a replacement is expected to be named next week.

Harry Bosco

Though a Lucent spokesman calls Bosco's departure a voluntary retirement decision, the timing suggests otherwise. With the stock setting a 52-week low Thursday and rivals on every side setting plans to get bigger and stronger in networking, the hottest business on the planet, Lucent executives must be feeling very antsy indeed.

In the wake of the company's dismal forecast, its third-consecutive quarterly shortfall projection this year, some analysts

questioned the quality of Lucent's top management. Some analysts thought accountability should reach as high as the chairman, given the gravity of Lucent's miscues at a time when demand for networking gear is at an all-time high.

During a conference call with analysts last week, Lucent chief Richard McGinn suggested top executive changes were in the works. McGinn said he would return in 10 days with a major restructuring plan.

Bosco, 55, who has worked for Lucent for 35 years, may not be the only division chief to leave his post, though Lucent officials wouldn't comment other than to say restructuring details will be available next week. Bosco wasn't available for comment. Bosco was

interviewed recently in

TheStreet.com's

Streetside Chat, where he admitted Lucent took its eye off the ball in fiber-optic networking developments.

"Clearly this was something Rich McGinn was referencing when he spoke about organizational changes," a Lucent spokesman says. "But we'd like to stress this was Harry's decision."