College Sports in the Carolinas
Don't miss Al Myatt's
profile of ECU Chancellor Steven Ballard in the current
from the East
February 21, 2005
By Al Myatt
ECU next stop on coach's
'2nd chance' tour
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
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
“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
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,
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
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02/23/2007 12:33:05 AM