Eustachy joins second chance club
By By Tony Krausz/assistant sports editor
March 27, 2004
The University of Southern Mississippi added Larry Eustachy's name to a list of coaches who will be getting a second chance in the coming year.
Along with new head football coaches George O'Leary at Central Florida and Mike Price at the University of Texas-El Paso, Eustachy is getting the one thing that everybody truly wants in life a new beginning.
The three controversial hires will receive a lion's share of criticism upon the institutions that were willing to forgive past digressions by the coaches.
O'Leary spent just enough time in South Bend, Ind., to have a cup of coffee before it was discovered he made false claims on his resume.
Price barely touched down in Tuscaloosa before he was ousted after a wild night that allegedly happened in a strip club in Florida.
For Eustachy, it was incriminating photos of drinking with college students in Columbia, Mo., that led to his resignation from Iowa State.
All three men handled their departures from their previous posts in different ways.
O'Leary, who admitted it was a mistake to lie on his resume, claimed his resume exaggerations never landed him a job. But that just brought up the question of why did you lie?
Price went the legal route after his firing from Alabama. The former Washington football coach has sued Sports Illustrated and writer Don Yeager claiming he was libeled and slandered by a story detailing Price's actions the night he visited a strip club in Pensacola, Fla., in April 2003.
Price has also recently filed a lawsuit against Alabama president Robert Witt, accusing the university president of fraud and misrepresentation and asks for a jury to decide on a monetary award.
Eustachy looked into himself and the reason for his dismissal from a $1.1 million-a-year job with the Cyclones.
This is where the new Golden Eagles coach's path diverges from the other two coaches receiving second chances.
Eustachy, who started seeking counseling for alcoholism prior to the photos of him at that fateful party becoming public, found he had a problem he was an alcoholic.
The coach didn't run from the problem, instead he sought out help.
Eustachy went into a 28-day rehabilitation clinic, and on April 23, he will have gone a full year without taking a drink.
The former 2000 Associated Press Coach of the Year is upfront about his problem, "I'm a recovering alcoholic," he said Thursday, after being announced as USM's new basketball coach.
Alcoholism is a disease, it is also hard to understand and comprehend without having battled it yourself or having someone close to you go through the struggles that come with the substance dependency.
Eustachy's situation is delicate, and the university that hired him is well aware of the baggage he brings with him to campus.
Fortunately for Eustachy, there are people at USM that have more than just a working knowledge of alcoholism specifically USM athletic director Richard Giannini.
It has been just under a year since Eustachy left a high-profile basketball job, and three years since he won the Big 12 Coach of the Year award, which he won in 2000 and 2001.
Eustachy certainly has the resume to be a major hire for any college basketball program, with 260 career wins and three
championships in three different conferences, but the question that will be asked the most will be is it too soon for him to be back in coaching?
Some will say it isn't too soon, some will say it is too soon and others will say he never deserves a second chance.
In truth, there isn't a perfect time for Eustachy to come back. No matter what he does, good or bad, in coaching, what happened last Spring will always be over his head.
Eustachy will also always have to deal with his problem with alcohol, and he will be supported by many at USM.
Getting a second chance isn't a miracle, it is something that needs to be earned. Listening to Eustachy talk about what he has done to receive his chance at USM, you can believe he has earned it and will make the university proud for granting him another try.