Tag:Larry Eustachy
Posted on: February 2, 2012 9:31 am
Edited on: February 2, 2012 11:33 am
 

I like Larry Eustachy (and you should, too)

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.
Posted on: September 28, 2011 4:54 pm
 

Larry Eustachy earns extension at Southern Miss

By Matt Norlander

Many times, with true contrition and resolve, you can make it again in America after a public downfall. Just look at Southern Miss, who has given Larry Eustachy a three-year contract extension, per ESPN.com's Andy Katz. Terms of the deal have not yet been announced.

The Golden Eagles went 22-10 last year, and overall, Eustachy has a record of 117-104, with three 20-win seasons. He's coached there since 2005. He has yet to take the team to the NCAA tournament. The only postseason berth came in the lowly regarded CIT, in 2010.

Eustachy left Iowa State in 2003 after pictures of him surfaced drinking with co-eds. It was truly one of the first instances of the Internet changing the way sports figures could act in public. Many lessons were learned, and bad (stupid) behavior still gets caught on camera in today's era, but less frequently than it did during the halcyon days of half-witted behavior (2004-2007ish). When Eustachy was caught, it was truly a much more innocent time.

He became one of the first sports figures to lose his job over something that became known via the Internet. It was bad for Iowa State, but so much worse for Eustachy, who came to grips with the fact he was an alcoholic. Nevertheless, his coaching was so valued, he only had to wait two years to land on his feet in D-I again. He stuck to rehab, and Southern Miss hasn't looked back since.

Eustachy had one year left on his deal, but with the way contracts work these days, that might as well be no time at all. The Golden Eagles will most likely run atop the Conference USA with Memphis, UAB and Marshall this season. That league's not likely to produce four NCAA tournament teams, but many see that quadrant of clubs to be the ones with the best chance at being on the bubble come early February.

There's another possible bit of big news coming for Southern Miss. From Katz's report:

In addition, a source said a decision was due soon on reinstating Kentucky transfer guard Darnell Dodson by mid-year. Dodson had been booted off the Wildcats team after the 2009-10 season by coach John Calipari, who did not give a reason. Dodson transferred to Southern Miss and was enrolled this past January, but in late April, Eustachy announced Dodson had been dismissed from the Golden Eagles as well, and also did not give a reason.

If Dodson's name rings a bell, it should sound an alarm instead. He was initially kicked off the team after being charged with stealing from a frat house at Southern Miss' campus in April. That was never officially the reason, but it was definitely the reason.

Seems Dodson -- who definitely has the talent to earn a lot of minutes in C-USA -- may get yet one more shot. What was that I said about America earlier?

Photo: US PRESSWIRE
 
 
 
 
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