A bit of sad news in the basketball world as Eddie Sutton passed away Saturday. He was 84 and a certifiable legend.
He worked his way up through a JUCO to Creighton to Arkansas and then to Kentucky and finally Oklahoma State.
At Arkansas he had an iconic team with Sidney Moncrief, Ron Brewer and Marvin Delph, all from Arkansas and all about 6-4.
He told someone - possibly Dick Vitale - that he’d crawl on his belly to get the Kentucky job.
He lasted just four years and his last year was surely miserable: one player was accused of cheating on his SAT, Sean Kemp was accused of trying to sell two gold chains that belonged to teammate and Sutton’s son Sean Sutton and Rex Chapman had left after two years for the NBA - and the Emory scandal broke (cash was found in an Emory envelope sent to a player’s father). That ultimately cost him his job.
Whatever you think of Sutton, what happened at Kentucky would have broken most people. He moved to his alma mater Oklahoma State though and had a terrific 16-year run there.
It was marred by a DWI arrest and Sutton’s admission that he had an alcohol problem. On balance though he proved again that he was a superb coach if imperfect human being. That’s hardly unusual.
However, he was also a tower of strength when 10 people involved with his program died in a plane wreck in 2001. That more than outweighed what happened at Kentucky.
Chapman alluded to his imperfections and great strengths when he said this on Twitter Sunday morning:
Eddie Sutton was a fascinating and complicated person. He also was an unbelievable teacher of the game of basketball. I was fortunate and lucky to have learned from him. Grateful.
Hall. Of. Famer.
Thanks, Coach Ed.
Just about sums it up.