Friday, November 12, 2004

Eustachy In Mississippi, But His Family Remains In Ames

We're all looking for a happy ending to the Larry Eustachy saga.

But already there's a snag.

Rebuilding his life and re-entering the basketball coaching profession didn’t come without a hefty price tag for Eustachy.

It cost him his marriage.

That fact was revealed by Andy Katz of, who interviewed Eustachy at Southern Mississippi University in Hattiesburg.

Eustachy took the Southern Mississippi job after a one-year layoff following his dismissal at Iowa State after five seasons.

Eustachy declared himself an alcoholic after being photographed in 2003 while drinking with college-age women at a party following an Iowa State-Missouri game in Columbia, Mo. The photos were published in the Des Moines Register.

It appeared that Eustachy’s wife, Stacy, who married him Aug. 8, 1987, was supportive during the time he was having problems at Iowa State and when he was hired at Southern Mississippi.

She appeared with him at Ames when he went public in an effort to save his job, and she was with him in Hattiesburg the day he accepted the Southern Mississippi job.

“His wife was in Hattiesburg for the news conference announcing his hiring on March 25, 2004,” Katz wrote. “But, according to Eustachy, the family never moved.”

Katz said Eustachy “hasn’t had a drink in 18 months. He said he’s as comfortable in his own skin as ever. But his marriage is over. His two sons [12-year-old Hayden and 10-year-old Evan] are still in Ames, Ia., near the school that fired Eustachy…..”

Explained Eustachy: “I thought in taking this job that everything would work out for me, but things went wrong. I didn’t want it to happen. The boys are the most important things in my life. I try not to go 10 days without seeing them. I’ve got all the flights mapped out. You deal with life on life’s terms. That’s what you do.

“I’d rather have my boys with me. I miss them dearly, but I find that I communicate with them more now than when I was there. I really wasn’t there when I look at it now. I go to the laundry mat. I have to handle my insurance and all that. It sounds crazy. But I wouldn’t change anything. This is what has been dealt me and I’m a better person for it. I treat people better.”

Eustachy talked openly to Katz about his prior drinking habits.

“When you drink, the whole world revolves around you and the next place,” Eustachy said. “I’m an alcoholic. What is abnormal appears normal to you. There was so much hypocrisy with me telling these [players] that they have to get some sleep and take care of their body. I wasn’t going to play, but I wasn’t well rested. I’m a lot more rested now. I get more sleep. I can fly. The thing that I thought helped me fly [drinking] hurt me from flying. The alcohol would bring on anxiety.”

Katz said, “Eustachy used to cavalierly say that he would need a few drinks to get on a plane. He usually drove because he said he was afraid to fly. When Iowa State played at Boston College two years ago, Eustachy drove to Massachusetts and back.”

Said Eustachy: “The first speaking engagement after we lost to Hampton [in the 2001 NCAA tournament in Boise, Idaho], I got up in front of hundreds of people at Iowa State and I told them that I stopped at every bar along the way from Boise to Ames. People laughed.”

Was it true?

“Just about,” he said.

Eustachy’s road to recovery and to Hattiesburg was filled with a 12-step program, counseling and good friends offering support.

Eustachy said he still goes to meetings three or four times a week to continue controlling what he calls a “disease.”

“Eustachy’s openness about his alcoholism actually helped him get the Southern Mississippi job,” Katz wrote. “Southern Miss athletic director Richard Giannini had to make a splash with the hire. He wanted and called around to do his homework. He talked to Chuck Bell, Eustachy’s former athletic director at Utah State, and got rave reviews about the five years he had in Logan.

“He talked to Tim Floyd [a close friend of Eustachy who preceded him in the Iowa State coaching job] and got a glowing opinion. So he met with Eustachy in New Orleans and the two hit it off immediately. He knew Eustachy, who had coached as an assistant at Mississippi State, loves to fish and is fond of schools that aren’t exactly in a metropolis [Idaho, Utah State, Iowa State]……

“When Eustachy had team meetings with his new players and while he was recruiting the newcomers, he was honest with them about his past. Senior Dante Stiggers said Eustachy didn’t hide anything and told the players that he ‘messed up.’

“’He told us he made a major mistake, but he wasn’t going to run from it,’ said junior college transfer Solomon Brown. ‘He took full responsibility for what he did. I felt like he took a chance on me. I had somewhat of a checkered past myself. This isn’t a last chance for us, but more like a second or third chance for some of us.’

Rashaad Carruth probably needed Eustachy as much as he needed him. Carruth, a rare McDonald’s all-American at Southern Miss, played one season at Kentucky before being pushed out of Lexington. He went to Oklahoma and couldn’t last for Kelvin Sampson. He declined to say why he couldn’t cut it with Sampson, but said he regretted not being able to play for him after failing to make it through a redshirt season. He ended up at Indian Hills Community College in Iowa.

“’This is my last time and everyone knows it,’ Carruth said. ‘Coach Eustachy told me the truth, not just what I wanted to hear. He was very open about how he turned his life around. We’ve both been through some hard times.’”

Eustachy succeeded James Green, a former Iowa State assistant coach, in what had become a floundering program at Southern Mississippi.

“James Green was a good solid coach and a good disciplinarian, but we had our worst ticket gross here in 17 years,” Giannini told Katz.

Southern Mississippi has a top 25 football program and is nationally recognized in baseball. But the basketball team hasn’t been to the NCAA tournament since its only two appearances in 1990 and 1991. Giannini told Katz that “schools like Cincinnati and Louisville can make millions in basketball while the Golden Eagles make only about $700,000…..The upside here is huge and that’s why this was a critical hire for us…..”

Eustachy said he “doesn’t have any regrets or bitterness toward Iowa State. He said he stood up for everything he did and isn’t looking for an excuse to explain his past behavior. [Southern Mississippi] is a place where the people want to see their coach, and I’m out in the community a lot. I go home a lot earlier now. The thing that got me to that party [at Missouri] was I thought of myself as a normal guy.”

After his interview with Eustachy, Katz said the coach was “still quick-witted, but without the edge. The anger is gone. There’s almost a sense of tranquility when you’re in his presence.”

Tim Floyd continues to be a presence in Eustachy’s life.

Katz said there is a photo on the wall in Eustachy’s office. It’s a framed plaque of Lee Floyd—Tim’s father—who was Southern Mississippi’s coach in the 1960s.

“If it weren’t for Tim’s recommendation, Eustachy might not be here,” Katz said. “Floyd’s mother still lives in Hattiesburg. Tim lives about halfway between here and New Orleans. He comes often to practice. Eustachy and Floyd talk nearly every day. He is probably an unofficial member of Eustachy’s therapy team.”


A guy who used to work at the local paper is wondering why the bosses moved so quickly in naming a news editor.

"It took less than a year," he points out with his tongue firmly in his cheek.

Anyway, here's the announcement that has been sent to the newsroom staff by Gage Church:

"I am very pleased to announce that James (Bob) Hagerty will join The Des Moines Register as news editor, a position that has been open since Mia Bush's departure last December.

"Bob is an editor and reporter at the Wall Street Journal in New York, where he covers housing and economics. Before moving to New York, he was the London bureau chief and the Atlanta deputy bureau chief for the Journal in Hong Kong, he held several positions at different times for the Asian Wall Street Journal: managing editor, news editor, deputy news editor and copy editor. He also has been a reporter and editor with the International Herald Tribune in London and Paris.

"The move will bring Bob closer to family in his native North Dakota. He, his wife, Lorraine, and their two boys will arrive in Des Moines in late December or early January."

Well, let's all give a warm Des Moines welcome to James, Bob or whatever the hell his name is.

I'm sure he'll find that this is a much nicer place to work than New York, Hong Kong, London and Paris. And the night life? No doubt it'll be a lot better here, too. Wait'll he sees the new mall.

Vol. 4, No. 276
Nov. 12, 2004