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Of Interest: the Return of Eddie Sutton?

December 27, 2007

The return of Eddie Sutton:

San Francisco announced on Wednesday that Jessie Evans is stepping down as basketball coach and 71-year-old Sutton is taking over the Dons on an interim basis….

Sutton’s first game will be Friday night at Weber State.

“I love the game of basketball,” Sutton said. “There’s nobody that coached or it played it that loved it as much as I do. I missed coaching youngsters. I missed that. I want to gain, getting back on the court and having the opportunity to teach. That will be very pleasing to me.”

Gore-Mann told ESPN.com prior to a news conference Wednesday that Evans requested a leave of absence Wednesday morning. She said that the decision to take the season-long leave was solely Evans’ decision. But that contradicts what multiple sources told ESPN.com — that Evans was issued an ultimatum earlier in the day that he had to resign or would be fired. Gore-Mann said she wouldn’t discuss the particulars of why Evans took the leave and didn’t know if Evans would be the coach next season. Gore-Mann did confirm that Sutton was at the Long Beach State-San Francisco game last week in Long Beach, but that the school didn’t set up Sutton’s appearance. Gore-Mann said she had a short window to “bring in coach Sutton.”

Sutton retired as Oklahoma State’s coach after the 2005-06 season. He has 798 victories in 36 seasons as a Division I coach at Creighton, Arkansas, Kentucky and Oklahoma State.

When his victories at Tulsa Central High School and the College of Southern Idaho are included, Sutton won exactly 1,000 games before retiring from coaching in May 2006.

eddie sutton's sour pussHis retirement came about three months after a drunken driving accident caused him to miss the Cowboys’ final 10 games of the 2005-06 season. Sutton pleaded no contest to misdemeanor aggravated drunken driving and two other charges following the February 2006 car accident.

Sutton reached the Final Four with Arkansas in 1978 and with Oklahoma State in 1995 and 2004. He ranks fifth on the all-time list for victories among Division I coaches, trailing Texas Tech’s Bob Knight (896), Dean Smith (North Carolina, 879), Adolph Rupp (Kentucky, 876) and Jim Phelan (Mt. St. Mary’s, Md., 830).

Gore-Mann told ESPN.com earlier Wednesday that Sutton told her he didn’t want the full-time job.

“I’m physically in good health,” Sutton said, adding that his drinking problem is a thing of the past. “I feel very strong.”…

The coach said he’s never been on the San Francisco campus, so “This is the toughest challenge I’ve ever had.”

Gore-Mann added that she is working toward bringing in former South Florida coach Robert McCullum as an assistant for Sutton.

The AD tried to clear up why she said she didn’t know that Evans would be leaving until Wednesday morning yet Sutton said he talked to her a few days earlier about the possibility of the job becoming available. “When I was talking to coach Sutton before it was more long term, not short term,” Gore-Mann said.

As for whether or not Sutton could be a long-term solution, she said, “I would always consider him, but it would be what he would be ready to commit to.”

coach jessie evans
Remember, coaches– if you see an old hall of fame coach just taking in your game, hovering over your game, dripping pomade on your players like Riley on Van Gundy, it might be a sign that you’re about to get done. I wonder if Coach Cam Cameron is feeling that in Miami, with Parcells glowering from the press box…

On top of that, this seems a pretty unseemly way to get fired, mid season, and replaced by some old retired coach. How does Oklahoma State feel, having sent off their coach as a conquering hero (even if fading) and replacing him with his son and his whopping 6-5 record (losses against North Texas and Oral Roberts included), only to have the elder Sutton return to coaching in a small league with schools with delusions of their past grandeur (see: Bill Russell, KC Jones, and more)?

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