Blog Entry

I like Larry Eustachy (and you should, too)

Posted on: February 2, 2012 9:31 am
Edited on: February 2, 2012 11:33 am
Larry Eustachy is on his way back, finally. (Getty Images)
By Gary Parrish

The first time I met Larry Eustachy he was sober but talking about being drunk. It was May 2004. He was the new coach at Southern Miss. I was the Memphis beat writer at The Commercial Appeal. We were at the Conference USA spring meetings in Florida. And just I remember Eustachy walking out of one of the meetings mid-morning to take a bathroom break. He went in the bathroom and exited the bathroom, but rather than immediately return to the meeting he sat down on a couch in the lobby beside me, rubbed his tired eyes and started a conversation.

I didn't know Eustachy at all at the time.

I mean, I knew who he was but he didn't know me.

But I guess he could tell I was a reporter, and I was the only reporter covering the meeting. So he plopped down beside me, and we started talking, and this was roughly a year after he was fired at Iowa State after being photographed drinking and partying with college students. In hindsight, the scandal doesn't seem like a big deal given what we've dealt with over the past year. But at the time it was a scandal worthy of national headlines, and I was trying to figure out a way to eventually (and respectfully) bring it up because I knew I'd want to write about Eustachy at some point from the spring meetings.

Before I could settle on a strategy, Eustachy broached the subject.

"I used to drink till the sun came up, then go to these meetings," he said. "It's harder going to them sober."

I laughed and agreed.

I then introduced myself.

And we sat there for the next 30 minutes talking about his very public fall from grace. Eustachy was remarkably open. His candor was unique and refreshing (as was the case again when I spoke to him in 2009 right after Billy Gillispie was charged with DUI). Eustachy just seemed so comfortable talking about the lowest point of his life, and ever since that conversation I've pulled for him. I have no problem admitting I like the guy. Eustachy's fall was quick and hard and embarrassing, but he handled it as well as anybody could. He went from being the Associated Press National Coach of the Year at a Big 12 school to a fired and admitted alcoholic who lost his marriage and found himself alone in Hattiesburg with a seemingly impossible job. That's exactly the kind of stuff that drives a man to drinking. How Eustachy stayed sober I'll never know. But he did. He stayed sober and continued building a program as best he could, and he woke this morning in first place in Conference USA after Wednesday's dramatic victory over Memphis.

His Golden Eagles are 20-3 overall, 7-1 in the league and possibly headed for the Top 25 on Monday.

It's a terrific story of redemption.

It's a story I like.

It's now been nearly eight years since I sat with Eustachy in the lobby of that hotel in Florida, and it's been a long climb back to relevancy for him. But he's back. Against all odds, he's got Southern Miss on track to play in the NCAA Tournament. So I'm happy for him. And you should be, too.

Since: Jan 15, 2008
Posted on: April 17, 2012 3:26 pm

I like Larry Eustachy (and you should, too)

Southern Miss was matched up against Kansas State for a reason, I'm sure of it...

Since: Dec 1, 2006
Posted on: February 2, 2012 5:08 pm

I like Larry Eustachy (and you should, too)

Southern Miss will do in the tournament this year.
Even if we just win one tourney game, it'll be an improvement...

I really find it frustrating that he had us a good team last year, and we got snubbed out of the NIT.  We weren't NCAA worthy obviously, but we still should have had an NIT bid last year.  But no, we got snubbed out as the "last team out"

'10 - CBI invite
'11 - Should have been an NIT invite
'12 - NCAA big dance invite (hopefully!)

That's what you call rebuilding a program the right way, and surprisingly quickly...

Now just please, please, please make sure all those big programs either don't interest coach E or they just overlook him... (of course, I've been an LE fan ever since we first got him...)

Since: Mar 13, 2009
Posted on: February 2, 2012 3:26 pm

I like Larry Eustachy (and you should, too)

Wonderful game last night as well!  Hats off to the Golden Eagles!

Since: Oct 29, 2006
Posted on: February 2, 2012 2:50 pm

I like Larry Eustachy (and you should, too)

I agree with everything written here, well done.  ...and Southern Miss is having a great season because of the outstanding coaching of Larry Eustachy.  I'll be watching to see what type of damage Southern Miss will do in the tournament this year.

Since: Dec 21, 2009
Posted on: February 2, 2012 2:00 pm

I like Larry Eustachy (and you should, too)


The school and all of us alumni are proud to have you as our head coach. NCAAB Coach of the Year in our mind. 

Since: Jul 29, 2009
Posted on: February 2, 2012 12:06 pm

I like Larry Eustachy (and you should, too)

Keep it up Larry and Good Luck. I'm not sure I could stay sober in Hattiesburg, but I hope you can continue your sobriety.

Since: Feb 18, 2010
Posted on: February 2, 2012 11:33 am

I like Larry Eustachy (and you should, too)

Great top read a redemption story! There are the kinds of stories that should be "front page" if only we (as a culture) weren't so blood-thirsty. Thanks Gary!

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