Perhaps no coach appreciates being in the NCAA Tournament than Southern Mississippi’s Larry Eustachy.
“There’s nobody that’s got more scars on their fanny than me,” Eustachy said.
You might recall that Eustachy is the former Iowa State coach who took the Cyclones to the Elite 8 in 2000. More likely, you remember his name from his scandalous departure in 2003. Eustachy resigned under pressure after pictures surfaced of him kissing several young women and holding a beer at a fraternity party near Missouri’s campus following a game that season.
Eustachy, 56, took a year off from coaching, quit drinking and then was hired at Southern Miss.
Eight seasons later, Eustachy has Southern Miss in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1991. The Golden Eagles play Kansas State in the first game at Consol Energy Center on Thursday at 12:40 p.m.
“After I was fired at Iowa State, I took a hard look at myself and realized I had to make some changes,” he said. “I’m really proud of those changes. I’ve become better at everything I do: a dad, a son, a coach.
“I’ve settled into a new way of life that is much more enjoyable than the old way.”
Eustachy has guided the Golden Eagles to three consecutive 20-win seasons, including a 23-6 mark this year.
“It’s about the players,” he said. “I’ve always said I’ve never seen a jockey carry a horse across the finish line. It’s about the horses, and we’ve got some good ones.”
Eustachy, though, is aware that the TV cameras will focus more on him and his recovery from alcoholism than his upstart team.
“I think my story’s a neat story,” he said. “I think it’s a great story. I think it inspires people. I welcome the opportunity to talk about it as any moment, any chance I get. I think it’s helped a lot of people, and I think it’s brought a lot of attention to a real problem.”
– By Joe Rutter