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Don't miss Al Myatt's profile of ECU Chancellor Steven Ballard in the current Bonesville Magazine.

View from the East
Monday, February 21, 2005

By Al Myatt

ECU next stop on coach's '2nd chance' tour

©2005 Bonesville.net

Since East Carolina became an all-sports member of Conference USA, high profile opposing basketball coaches have helped drive attendance in Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum.

Rick Pitino of Louisville, Bob Huggins of Cincinnati and John Calipari of Memphis are among those who have brought their considerable presence to the visiting sideline.

Southern Miss mentor Larry Eustachy has had a high degree of success as well and will be coming in for a C-USA matchup with the Pirates on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

While ECU fans traditionally have their fun riding big name opposing coaches, no one could be blamed for pulling for Eustachy personally. He is, of course, a recovering alcoholic, whose condition and job status at Iowa State was played out in Sports Illustrated, ESPN and talk radio coast to coast.

He was dismissed by the Cyclones after the 2003 season.

Eustachy has taken teams to the NCAA Tournament three times and guided two clubs to the NIT. He has a record of 270-160 over 14 seasons. He has been conference coach of the year four times — twice in the Big West and twice in the Big 12.

Eustachy's reputation took a U-turn when the Des Moines Register published pictures on Monday, April 28, 2003, of the coach kissing young women at a campus party after a Cyclones loss at Missouri. His binge drinking started at an early age and got out of control.

"For the rest of my life, I will seek counseling for this illness," Eustachy said as he campaigned to keep his job at Iowa State in April of 2003. " ... I believe in second chances."

Pirate coach Bill Herrion said at the time, in a View from the East column published on Bonesville.net, that Eustachy's plight was indicative of the increased visibility college coaches deal with today. Little did Herrion realize two years ago that Eustachy would become a C-USA peer.

“When you’re in our position as a head coach, you’re represent your university and you have to represent it the right way,” Herrion said. “When you decide to go into this profession you put yourself under a microscope. You have to be aware who’s watching and the decisions you make. Being aware of how you represent your university is part of the job.

“It’s an unfortunate deal. The guy’s a heckuva coach. You don’t want to see it end for him because of that. You give him credit for admitting he has a problem. The most important thing for him is taking care of the problem and you look at that. The Alabama guy (former Crimson Tide football coach Mike Price) — at the bigger schools, you’re in the public eye so much — you have to stay on top of that.”

Although his players lobbied for Eustachy to be retained and his wife voiced her support, his contrition wasn't enough for him to keep his job. The Cyclones didn't believe in second chances for a man who was under contract at $1 million a year through 2010-11.

After a season away from coaching, Southern Miss offered Eustachy a second chance in the form of an opportunity to take over a program that had experienced three straight losing seasons under James Green.

Eustachy's return to coaching has hardly coincided with a drastic change in the hoops performance of the Golden Eagles. With an 85-73 home loss to Memphis on Saturday, Southern Miss fell to 1-12 in the league and 10-15 overall.

But ECU should be prepared for a battle if USM's performance against the Tigers is any indication.

"They came to win," Calipari said. "If you aren't bragging about these players and Larry, you're out of your mind."

Eustachy, like Herrion at times this season, isn't really into moral victories.

"We played hard but that's what you're supposed to do," Eustachy said. "You're supposed to play hard every play, every possession, every game."

The emphasis on effort sounds like Herrion, too.

ECU (8-17, 3-10 C-USA) is ahead of one team in the standings in its bid to make the league tournament and it's the Golden Eagles. The Pirates desperately need to hold serve on their home court this week to be part of the C-USA Tournament next month in Memphis. Houston comes to Greenville on Saturday at 7 p.m.

ECU fans can't be expected to pull for Eustachy, the coach, but we all should say a little prayer for Eustachy, the man.

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02/23/2007 12:33:05 AM
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